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How to Gauge Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Key Questions to Ask in an Interview

In a job interview, smart candidates use the opportunity to gauge a company’s fit for them — to determine if the organization will fully accept them, their strengths, and their areas for growth. Here are five important questions to ask in an interview — and other factors to consider when measuring a company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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What matters most in a job? For neurodivergent individuals, especially, a workplace that includes and celebrates employees who think differently is often (and rightfully) a foremost priority.

But how do you truly and fairly gauge a company’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Your interview with a prospective employer can reveal important information about the company’s climate, culture, and attitudes toward neurodivergent talent and inclusion in the workplace. If you’re interviewing for a new job, be sure to ask the following key questions to understand if the company welcomes and harnesses the strengths of all kinds of people.

1. What types of training does this organization complete, and how often?

Does the company participate in workplace neurodiversity training and other diversity, equity, and inclusion programs? Does it have diversity and inclusion teams? The company’s mission and/or vision statements on its web site may also offer insight into its attitudes and efforts around hiring and nurturing neurodivergent talent.

You can also ask how the company gauges its culture and climate (including stigma) around invisible disabilities. Ultimately, organizations need hard data to truly uncover strengths and weaknesses in their policies, and to be kept accountable on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. There is a dearth of tools available to help organizations gather empirical data on this front, though researchers are working to fill the gap.

2. How does this company support personal differences?

It’s a good sign if a company understands that no two employees are the same — in personality, workflow, point of view, and other ways including and outside of neurodivergence. This attitude is often reflected in the workplace’s policies and priorities around employee wellbeing, work-life balance, flexibility, and other aspects of company culture. (Be sure to ask about all of these during the interview.)

[Read: Fostering Neurodiversity in the Workplace — Strategies for Employers and Employees]

3. How receptive is the company to new ideas, different perspectives, and change?

Seek out neurodivergent employees who perceive the world differently and ask them if the company is stuck in its ways or truly interested in evolving.

4. What kind of flexible working environments does the company support?

If the position you’re applying for requires you to be in an office, get a sense of the physical work environment. Will you have your own office or space? Or will you work in an open-plan office? Are there spaces you can use if you need more or less stimulation? How does the company respond to requests for adjustments and modifications to the working environment, like an employee’s use of headphones to block noise? You know yourself best, so be sure that the work environment is one that enhances productivity or can be adapted to suit your needs.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, this question will also help you understand how open and proactive the company is in ensuring that employees feel comfortable and productive at work.

5. Are employees required to attend workplace gatherings?

Workplace events can be uncomfortable for many neurodivergent employees, especially for autistic individuals. This is often because of masking — the exhausting act of hiding identifiers of one’s condition to appear neurotypical. Even if workplace events aren’t mandatory, ask how the company feels about employees who do not attend these social events.

[Read: Is ADHD a Disability? Your Legal Rights at Work]

Additional Interviewing Tips

  • Read the interviewer’s facial expressions, if possible, as you ask these questions to see signs of bias. Do they seem confused, bothered, uncomfortable, or annoyed by your line of questioning?
  • Is the interviewer unable to provide answers to most of your questions? Do they seem to deflect, or are they too quick to suggest that you talk to your local office of equal employment opportunity (EEO)?
  • While the ADA protects qualified individuals with disabilities from employment discrimination, it is widely known that workplace discrimination persists (albeit in subtler ways) against disabled and/or neurodivergent individuals. If you are not open to disclosing any condition you may have and are concerned that these questions will “give you away” and possibly interfere with the interviewing process, consider prioritizing only critical questions and/or asking them once you’ve been hired.
  • Remember that, in a job interview, you get to interview the company, too. Ultimately, you should think to yourself: “Would I really want to work for an organization that isn’t going to fully accept me as I am?”

Questions to Ask in an Interview: Next Steps

The content for this article was derived, in part, from the ADDitude ADHD Experts webinar titled, “‘Invisible’ Disabilities at Work: How to Foster Neurodivergent Advocacy and Acceptance” [Video Replay & Podcast #443] with Jessica Hicksted, which was broadcast on February 23, 2023.

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