How to get the best candidates with an accessible recruitment process

Employers may miss out on attracting fantastic talent if their recruitment practises are not accessible for all.

Two young men shake hands across a table. There's an office chair, a laptop and a glass of water so it looks as if they have just finished a meeting.

There’s a very good business case for employers to recruit more people with access needs. Many organisations don’t know where to start – and that’s where we can help. Here are some ways you can improve your recruitment process, and why you should be recruiting diverse talent.

Employment statistics for access citizens  

Research from Accenture in 2018 put the benefits of being an accessible employer into hard statistics: 28% higher revenues, 30% greater economic profit margins, and twice the net income of your industry peers.

Yet Government statistics show that just 45% of people in New Zealand who identify with a disability or access need are employed, compared with 72% of non-disabled adults.

In our recent Access 2020 survey, we asked people to give accessibility ratings to different areas of public life. Employment opportunities came last – with only 13% of access citizens giving it a positive accessibility rating.

With some simple adjustments to recruitment processes, employers can turn this around.

Research also shows that access citizens have to be creative to adapt to the world around them, developing skills such as problem-solving, agility, persistence, forethought and a willingness to experiment—all of which are essential for innovation and the 21st century workplace. Leading employers are increasingly recognizing that this untapped talent pool of access citizens have the skills that workplaces in the 21st century need.

The recruitment process

Inclusive recruitment starts at the beginning of the recruitment process: the job description and the job advertisement that it feeds into.

Think about what you are asking for. Are you specifying criteria that someone with an access need might find more difficult to meet? Are they actually “essential” – or even “desirable”?  

Think about how you are asking it. Is your job ad welcoming? You could include a statement that actively encourages access citizens to apply. You might even decide to shortlist all candidates with an access need who meet the core requirements – in which case, say so clearly.

Then think about whether the application process is accessible. Are your recruitment materials available in accessible formats? How easy is it to apply? Has your online system been checked for accessibility?

Ensure you actively offer assistance with the application process and invite people to contact if they need this.  

Once you’ve made your shortlist, it’s time to consider the needs of the individuals on that list and the support they might need to take part in the selection process (remember, “reasonable accommodation” is a legal requirement).


You’ve made your shortlist and you can see it includes candidates with access needs – or maybe not, if they’ve chosen not to disclose. So it’s a good idea to ask all candidates if they need any adjustments to participate in the interview.  

Accommodations for interviews could be something you’ve already thought of, like providing a hearing loop or a wheelchair-accessible interview room, or something less obvious like allowing a longer time limit to answer questions. If you’re including tests, check that these are in an accessible format too.

If you’re interviewing online rather than in person, check that the platform you are using is accessible. Zoom, for example, lists features such as keyboard shortcuts and screen reader support on its accessibility page.

When it comes to interview questions, ask all the candidates the same questions and focus on the job requirements. Only mention access needs if you’re asking about adjustments or support required, for the interview or for doing the actual job.

You could even think more radically about whether you actually need to carry out traditional job interviews at all. Some recruiters are starting to question whether this is the best way to find the most suitable, and most diverse, candidates.

And if you or your organisation are keen to discover the benefits of employing diverse talent, we have 10 years of experiencing matching employers with talented candidates through our internship and permanent employment programmes.  

One of the organisations we have worked with is Vaka Tautua. Kristina Sofele, their North Western Regional Manager, says: “Be. Lab have credibility and the right expertise, plus, they have an amazing pool of talent! Jacinta and Loa have added so much value to our team.”

And she adds: “Organisations that don’t consider employing access citizens are missing out on a huge opportunity”.

Be. Lab’s Talent Shop is a recruitment and professional development service like no other, that matches talented access citizens with leading employers. Find out more about the Talent Shop here. Or get in touch with our team of experts today.


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