A diverse group of interviewers interviewing a candidate

Diversity & Inclusion Interview Questions

Tom Stroud By Tom Stroud on 19.02.2021
Diversity & Inclusion | 3 Min Read

The previous year has caused remarkable changes in the way many of us work. As a result, increased remote working has expanded the power to recruit exceptional talent from virtually anywhere. All this means it's now more important than ever to be deliberate in how interview processes are designed and carried out.

It's well recognised that when looking to implement a diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) strategy, the easiest place to start for many companies is recruitment. But creating a diverse candidate pool to interview isn't the end of that journey. By using some key DEI questions in interviews, subsequent issues can potentially be prevented.

But DEI isn't just a consideration for the hirer. According to Glassdoor, a massive 67% of candidates now regard workplace diversification as a significant factor when considering job offers. More than 50% of current staff would prefer their employers to do more to increase diversity. Add into that mix a global workforce that is simultaneously maturing and welcoming generation Z into their first jobs. The need for businesses to ensure that diversity, equality and inclusion are built into their interview process has never been greater.

But what exactly should the interviewer be asking, what do the potential responses reveal, and what type of questions might a candidate ask about the company's DEI position?

From the interviewer of a non-managerial candidate

"Please explain to us what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you and why you feel they are important."

DEI have considerably broader implications than most people realise, so by asking this question, you will discover if the candidate truly grasps the meaning of each and if they foster the importance of it within the workplace. The range of answers to this question will undoubtedly be wide and varied, but it's a reliable place to start, and some responses may positively distinguish the individual. Strong responses will demonstrate a clear understanding of what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean and may also uncover a DEI champion.

"What do you find to be the most challenging part of working in a diverse setting?"

This question may seem like an invitation for the unprepared to panic and start rambling. Still, the main aim is to establish which candidates are aware of the potential challenges that can arise in diverse workplaces but can address those challenges appropriately.

"How might you manage a scenario in which a colleague is being prejudiced or culturally insensitive?"

Suppose you want to know who will be active in creating or maintaining an inclusive environment and who will stand up against biased remarks and actions. In which case, questions along these lines will highlight those likely to be passive and those willing to take action for others.

"How would you emphasise the importance of DEI to coworkers who don't thoroughly comprehend?"

As many organisations continue to train certain employees who may not fully appreciate the importance or benefits of the company DEI policy, asking how a candidate would handle those individuals is a great way to discover how the two may interact if working together.

From the interviewer, managerial candidate

"How might you foster a sense of inclusion, belonging, and equity with your direct reports every day?"

Possible answers to this question will highlight how a line manager has uplifted team members from diverse backgrounds and will demonstrate how they caused them to feel included.

"What do you implement to try and eliminate bias from your hiring process?"

It's a fact that despite our worthiest efforts, we all display unconscious biases which can adversely affect how we interact with colleagues. When hiring people responsible for hiring others into the business, it's crucial to ask if the candidate is aware of their own biases and can demonstrate how to prevent these when looking for new team members proactively.

"How do you try understanding the perspectives of colleagues from different backgrounds?"

The response to this question will provide you with an insight into the interviewee's emotional intelligence. Answers that talk about listening to understand, learning about other people's points of view, and seeing the strength in diversity of opinion will obtain the ideal responses.

"How would you source candidates from underrepresented communities?"

Although the primary purpose of this question is to gauge resourcefulness and the ability to think laterally, good responses will also provide a candidate's opinion on how to recruit from minority groups and demonstrate they have the means to advance the cause of diversity, inclusion and equality.

From the interviewee, all candidates.

"How important is diversity to this organisation? How diverse is the executive team?"

Any candidate asking this question is looking to determine if the company is aware of the concrete benefits diversity provides. They know they are much more likely to promote it if so. Executive team questions note a candidates interest in advancement, and the diversity of a leadership team says a lot about the opportunities for diverse candidates. It will also indicate a more welcoming culture for candidates from minority groups.

"Who holds my line manager accountable for diversity and inclusion measures?"

A question like this indicates the candidate is aware that diversity shouldn't be a one-off training session for managers and should be an ongoing effort that they are held accountable for.

There is a wide variety of revealing questions you can incorporate into your hiring strategy to help drive it forward from the first day an employee meets the company. One final, often overlooked piece of the puzzle is the diversification of the hiring panel itself. Including underrepresented employees in the interview process demonstrates that the business is open to diverse views and opinions. This is not only a potent message to candidates that you value diversity, but it's also a great way to reduce any unconscious bias interviewers may have throughout the process.

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