Is it ‘reasonable’ to provide some candidates with adjustments during a recruitment process?

Kate Headley - Diversity

Kate Headley – The Clear Company

Blog author – Kate Headley, Director at the Clear Company

The fact is, it’s reasonable, it’s good practice and, of course, it is the law. In my experience all employers want to give candidates applying for jobs the best opportunity to display their true potential. The biggest challenge employers face is getting candidates to share information and request the adjustments. We often hear the statement ‘if we don’t know, how we can be expected to help?’. 74.1% of candidates surveyed by the Clear Company in 2011 would not declare their disability for fear of not getting the job, with 36% stating they had suffered discrimination in the past, so we need to accept that fear is a major factor.

Candidates fear disclosing a ‘difference’ and employers have a fear of having the conversation and saying or doing the wrong thing. Too often the solution seems to be an overall avoidance of the issue – not a safe or fair option.

Taking the steps to ensure that candidates perform at their best in assessment has a significant impact on the bottom line. There’s a direct link between accommodating candidate adjustment needs at pre-employment stage and improved HR metrics around quality of hire, organisational diversity, post-employment sickness absence rates, tribunal claims and health related early retirements.

Add to these metrics the incalculable benefits to CSR objectives, employer brand and consumer confidence, and the paybacks easily outweigh any costs.

Fundamentally, of course, it’s the law. Employers have to anticipate the provision of reasonable adjustments in recruitment. My advice is to open up those lines of communication, ask every candidate, at every stage in the recruitment process, not about their ‘difference’ but what you can do differently to improve their application experience. At the same time, make sure the recruiters are confident and competent to manage the adjustments.

Reasonable adjustments in recruitment need not, and should not, be complicated; if an adjustment starts to feel complicated, or beyond the realms of being reasonable, then the chances are something has gone wrong. Keep it simple, put the candidate at the heart of it, avoid assumptions and, if in doubt, get some advice. This is not about lowering the bar, it’s about removing barriers which is entirely different.

Simple is always best – a reader, an alternative format, a work sample, a different pen, a short break during the interview, adjustment to the lighting, meeting someone on arrival, good signage, etc., are small and low cost but impactful adjustments to make.

With the right adjustments in place, candidates are able to perform at their best, you get to see their true potential and they will respect your organisation all the more for the opportunity. The results will pay dividends.

Kate Headley Bio

The Clear Company Kate is a qualified HR professional who has followed an early career in the private sector and the public sector with 15 years in recruitment and diversity. Best known for her passion and expertise in the development of inclusive recruitment processes and best practice in recruitment, Kate now leads her own consultancy, The Clear Company, specialising in work in this field.

Kate is recognised as one of the leading auditors of recruitment best practice in the UK. Using her expertise, Clear delivers external reviews of recruitment best practice to both public and private sector organisations as well as developing and implementing bespoke recruitment tool kits, best practice guides and recruitment masterclasses. Visit for further information

Oasis HR

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