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Train operator reviews recruitment process to better support candidates with ADHD

Northern has completed a review of its recruitment process to ensure applicants with neurodivergent conditions are better supported.

Candidates with autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia and Tourette's syndrome are now being given extra support, including:

  • A step-by-step breakdown, including timings, of each part of the recruitment process and who and what it will involve

  • Providing images of the interview room layout so candidates can visualise the environment ahead of the meeting

  • Permission to bring written notes into the interview

  • The offer to supply some of the interview questions in advance to help candidates prepare.

Recruiting managers are also being given clearer guidance on how to get the best from neurodivergent candidates.

The review of recruitment practices is one of a number of initiatives instigated by Northern’s neurodivergent employee advisory panel, which it created in 2023.

Once these measures and others are up and running, Northern hopes to gain Neurodiversity Smart accreditation – a scheme designed to help organisations become neuro-inclusive across their employee lifecycle and customer experience - by the end of 2025.

Lisa Leighton, people director at Northern, said: “Around 15% of the UK population is neurodivergent, meaning their brain functions, learns and processes information differently to the other 85% of the country.

“Our neurodivergent employee advisory panel has done a great job these past 12 months - identifying ways we can support that 15% as they look to develop their career within the rail industry.

“There are some quick wins as well as some bold ambitions which I look forward to working with them on as we continue to attract the best and brightest into the sector.”

The work of Northern’s neurodivergent employee advisory panel supports its equality, diversity and inclusion policy which outlines the train operator’s commitment to developing an inclusive working environment and being truly representative of the communities it serves. 

In 2023, Northern was highly commended in the ‘Best In Inclusion’ category of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Awards for its commitment to equality, fair pay and giving employees a say in how their workplace is run.

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.


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