How to Conduct an Inclusive Interview Process

March 2021
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Having a thoughtful and inclusive interview process is just one of many essential steps to take when it comes to overhauling your company’s recruitment and hiring initiatives.

As a talent acquisition leader, I always strive to bring diversity, equity and inclusion into my work, and not just because it is the right thing to do. Companies with more diverse workforces have demonstrated that they can outperform competitors, and their employees tend to be happier and more productive, too.

There are specific steps you can take to create an interview process that is significantly more inclusive. Implementing these strategies will begin to shift your company in the direction of an overall more inclusive, diverse and equitable environment. There is no better time than the present to strive for positive change!    

Educate staff and interview panels. 

Be transparent with the team about what unconscious biases might look like and work toward prevention and elimination through education. We all have unconscious biases. You do not want to overlook a candidate’s skills and experiences that would make them a great match for a job opportunity because you settle for what is familiar to you. 

Consider making some parts of a candidate’s application “blind” by removing their name, the name of their college or university and even the city where they are from. During the interview, have clear questions prepared for the interviewers and ensure that all responses are “graded” by the same standards. Steer clear from snap judgments. 

Broaden search and build a diverse talent pool. 

Prospect for candidates outside of the traditional channels to reach underrepresented groups. Look to new universities and new job boards, and connect with organizations in your industry that champion diversity. Relying too heavily on the “same old, same old” will only bring you more of the same. Just because you have always done it one way, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better way. 

Another important thing is that you should be flexible with candidates because you do not know if they are on a tight schedule due to work responsibilities, child care, transit requirements or other circumstances. Not everyone has the same personal situation, and to truly encourage diversity, you need to be mindful of that. 

Rework job descriptions. 

The language used in job descriptions can run the risk of being very antiquated, and this directly impacts who might be comfortable applying for a job. Be sure that you are using inclusive and affirming language; for example, avoid using specific pronouns and any stereotypical language. 

Also, while the points on a job description are important guidelines to help you identify the right candidate for the role, if you’re too strict with them, then you could be missing out on incredible talent.

Remember, diversity brings with it unique experiences, and you want to look at the whole picture. Textio is an online tool that helps companies analyze the language of their job descriptions to see how bias embedded in job descriptions can favor or discourage candidates.

Involve diverse people in the process. 

Biases in the interview process can be tackled head-on by bringing fresh perspectives into the room. Involve women, people of color and others in the interview and selection process. This will ensure that candidates are evaluated fairly and with a competency-based approach, and encourage more diversity. 

When candidates engage with many kinds of people, it gives them more reason to want to work for your company. Consider including your firm’s DEI Council or ERGs into the interviewing process, and the onboarding process!

Set goals, establish benchmarks, and track and measure your progress to ensure that you’re heading in the right direction. Continue to keep these strategies top of mind when you have a role to fill, and your interview process will become more inclusive, experience focused and value-driven, and your company’s diversity and overall culture will improve, too. 

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