Adapting the application and interview process to be more inclusive

We understand that the recruitment process can be costly and time consuming. We also understand that the local businesses and organisations try their best to be inclusive with the applicants.

From working with young people in Lincoln and other charities/organisations, as well as businesses, we have noticed a few trends within some businesses recruitment process that could do with updating and tweaking. For this reason, we wanted to share a few top tips and best practice that we have seen in our time from local businesses, charities and organisations who are putting their potential and current workers at the forefront of everything they do to ensure that they feel safe and secure in the workplace.


Application process

  1. Take a moment to consider, is a driving licence really essential to the job role or just something that might be handy? For many young people they can’t afford to learn to drive until they get a job and end up stuck in a catch 22 of not being able to get a job suited to their amazing skills and training because they don’t have a driving licence, but can’t get a driving licence until they get a better paying job. It’s maybe something especially relevant to review at the moment, because the pandemic has proven that we can do a lot more things remotely than we first thought, so are you missing out on some amazing employees just because you’ve put “Driving licence” in your job description?
  2. Does your job application work well with a screen reader? If someone is visually impaired or severely dyslexic, they may use certain screen reader technologies to help them read your job application/job description. Some formats aren’t very friendly with these technologies (as wonderful as they are). It may be worth checking whether your current format is as accessible as possible.
  3. Are you letting your candidates know about the Access To Work Fund? A fund to support people who may need Reasonable Adjustments at a cost to access the work place at no cost to the employer, or the employee! Not every employee knows about it (we know a lot of our young people don’t) and might be afraid to ask for a reasonable adjustment, in case you can’t afford it but this scheme levels that playing field and ensures that you can retain talent at no extra cost to yourself:
  4. Normalise Pronouns. Are you actively asking about pronouns before interview/during the job application? This could make all the difference for some people in terms of feeling accepted and comfortable applying to your job and coming to interview! By asking, you signal that you understand and accept people of all gender identities and remove the worries that someone non-gender conforming might feel throughout the application process. There can be a lot of anxiety around entering an interview and not knowing if that person in front of you is going to be respectful of who you are. You, the employer, may know that you’re lovely and would never discriminate but just remember that the person you’re interviewing doesn’t know that and may have experienced some horrifying discrimination in the past. By taking those 10 seconds to ask about pronouns, you could change everything for someone.

Interview process

  1. Is a standard, formal interview format the best way to recruit for your job role? I mean, no one likes interviews but for some people they are especially intimidating, for example people who experience social anxiety, or some people with ASD might find it especially inaccessible but it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be amazing at the job! Have you considered switching to work trials instead, to get a more accurate read on your candidates ability to actually do a job?

An interview just means they’re good at talking the talk, as I’m sure many of us have seen. It doesn’t guarantee that they can actually walk the walk, plus you could missing out on brilliant talent just because they don’t interview well, and at the end of the day no one wants that.

2. Are you sending out the details of the interview ahead of the interview? This helps to minimise anxiety and uncertainty. Simply sending the interviewee details of the date, time, location (with a map), dress code and things to prepare/ bring with them, will help the candidates to feel at ease and bring the correct documents with them.

In the workplace

  1. Ask the individual what kind of reasonable adjustments they might need. Have a list together to go through the sorts of things that count as reasonable adjustments in case they aren’t sure what these are. Did you know: Access to Work have a fund for reasonable adjustments. This could be funded travel to work, screen readers, etc. You can find out more here.
  2. Ask the individual how they would like to receive feedback. Some people like the blunt truth, whilst other people like praise sandwiches, some prefer to have frequent reviews. This helps you to quickly assess how to motivate them whilst encouraging them to learn.
  3. Ask them what they look like on a good day at work and what a bad day looks like. This will help you to notice when they are having a wobbly day and help them to feel supported in the workplace. It will also help you to know what to do to support them. Remember to ask how they like support. Some people might like a quiet word to check in, others might like to be left alone.
  4. Get your workforce to put their pronouns into the footer of their email. This helps people to feel safe and confident in identifying themselves. This also helps people to avoid conversations around pronouns with colleagues, which can sometimes be intense!

We also know that we do not have all the answers and sometimes get it wrong, so please do get in touch if you have some best practice that you can share with us for us to share with our readers. Please email