A neurodiverse hiring platform


This past year, I founded a startup called Mentra that is  a recruiting platform for companies to hire and accommodate people with autism and enhance their interview and onboarding experience at inclusive companies. I worked with a team of 5 developers and 3 designers to design and launch our platform - created with the help of autistic candidates at every step of the way. 

 
 
 
 
 


A short video advertisement of Mentra with autistic candidates using our web app.

My Role as a designer

Envisioning and designing an accessible future of neurodiverse hiring. 


As the lead designer on the team, and a researcher in the field of autism at the School of Interactive Computing, I conducted extensive research with autistic individuals, recruiters, parents, and vocational therapy centers in order to create a solution that serves the needs of the population. I hired and worked with designers and engineers to implement this solution. We also worked alongside autistic individuals to get their feedback at every step of the way. 

Design Process

Empathize

Since this project started from scratch, we designed an entire product and design system, using the Stanford D. School design methodology, by centering each step around the needs of the autistic candidates and recruiters we worked with.

 

82%

Taylor and Seltzer

In the U.S, over 500,000 young adults on the Autism spectrum will age out from federally-supported educational systems by 2025. If current trends continue, between 66-86% of these autistic adults will unemployed/underemployed, leaving them with no meaningful activities to engage in, and no chance to support their expenses.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATES IN THE UNITED STATES

OVERALL US POPULATION UNEMPLOYED

3.7%

AUTISTIC INDIVIDUALS UNEMPLOYED

Large scale impact on the autistic community 

Personal impact on individuals on the autism spectrum

Eren Niederhoffer

 

I am a the president of ASAA and am currently working as a Data Analyst at the Piedmont Group. In my interviews,I have trouble explaining the difficulties of my autism to employers and have to go through several interviews to do so.

Kayla Rodriguez

I am trying to find a job and the whole process is extremely time consuming and I often lose motivation because most autistics struggle to get jobs anyways. I cannot earn money and have to depend on my mother's income.

Research

Our research phase lasted for around 9 months with a team of 3 user researchers who interviewed and observed over 50 individuals with autism and stakeholders in the ecosystem. We partnered with Autism Self Advocacy of Atlanta to attend events and learn from autistic candidates. By synthesizing the notes into a condensed service blueprint, we spotted the breakdowns repetitively accumulated around the accommodation requesting flow.

Addressing pain points at each stage of the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey Mapping to understand pain points in process

If there are skills, hard to find jobs that match skills

If I find a job that matches, the application process is difficult and intimidating

If I get the job, the environment and people are unaccomodating

If I get called for an interview, companies don't know how to deal with autism

Scenario: The autistic user needs to secure employment in an inclusive company that accommodates for the needs of the individuals.

Understanding the Ecosystem

1

Central platform users

The main users of our platform who have several pain points listen in their journey through the job finding process.

Mentorship Matching

Mentorship is a valuable way to tackle these issues - providing assistance to navigate job finding process.

Employers Hiring Platform

A hiring platform would provide recruiters with a direct access to candidates.

 

 

 

 

Sketching User Flows

In order to create an app that connects mentors with mentees through a matching algorithm, we had to create separate screens for the mentee flow and mentor flow. We also had to determine what factors from the onboarding process would contribute to the matching algorithm and design accordingly. To do this, we designed alongside the head of peer mentorship from Excel

Determining the structure and elements that go into each screen.

Exploration 1Mobile Mentorship App

By focusing on the skeleton of the app, we were able to identify how to separate the features into different screens and determine the app's overarching infrastructure.

 

Simultaneously, we conducted research with the Autism Self Advocacy group of Atlanta to understand their typical behavior and how the design and features of this app could serve those exact pain points.

Low Fidelity Wireframes

Breaking down the mentorship user flows

1 - Onboarding Flow

Once we mapped out a skeleton of the wireframes, we realized we needed to split up the research and conduct separate research based on the requirements.

2 - Mentor Matching Flow

When designing each screen, we had to work with developers and researchers. Following the agile methodology, we worked collaboratively on Miro to set requirements for each screen, decide what questions to ask users, and determine with the developers what could be implemented.

Breaking down the mentorship user flows

Onboarding the user flow

In the onboarding process, it was important to distinguish how to guide mentors to enter their skills vs. the neurodiverse individuals. Based on user research, our team realized that questions had to be situational rather than open ended and the screen should not be overwhelming.

Neurotypical onboarding

Autistic candidate onboarding

As we were planning to run a test pilot with mentors and mentees, we realized that not all mentors might already be on the app. We then strategized a solution that would allow the app to be scalable, to add mentors manually and expand the community.

Mentorship matching process

Mentor list page

Manually add mentor

Mentorship request

Prototyping the mobile app

Based on the design iterations, we presented this demo to the founder of the Autism Hiring at Microsoft and the executive director of GCDD. These meetings provided us with valuable research insights that eventually caused our product idea to pivot.

Research insights from corporates and governments

Based on the design iterations, we presented this demo to the founder of the Autism Hiring at Microsoft and the executive director of GCDD. These meetings provided us with valuable research insights that eventually caused our product idea to pivot.

Based on the design iterations, we presented this demo to the founder of the Autism Hiring at Microsoft and the executive director of GCDD. These meetings provided us with valuable research insights that eventually caused our product idea to pivot.

Exploration 2Online Hiring App

From the interview insights, we realized that the key aspect of our app was the employer flow, that gave direct access to the autistic talent pool. Then we decided, should we pivot from a mobile interface to working on the web version of the recruiter flow?

Business Plan Pivot

 

Sketching User Flows

In order to create an app that recruiters could use to find and source autistic talent, we had to conduct several interviews and understand the user's needs from both ends. We then redesigned elements of almost every stage from two perspectives: the recruiter and candidate.

Prototype

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