Hiring for Diversity and Inclusiveness


Hiring for diversity and inclusiveness: Hiring based on merit with special care taken to ensure procedures have reduced biases related to a candidate's age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance. 

Misperception: Confusion over diversity hiring sometimes lies in the mistaken perception that the goal of diversity recruitment is to increase workplace diversity for the sake of diversity.

Goal: The goal of diversity hiring is to identify and reduce potential biases in sourcing, screening, and shortlisting candidates that may be ignoring, turning off, or accidentally discriminating against qualified, diverse candidates.

Benefits: A diverse workforce is better at solving problems and is better for business.


Overarching goal: Think broadly about ways to standardize recruitment and screening.

1.  Commitment: The leadership (potentially YOU if you are the one hiring) needs to commit to DEI during the hiring process.

2.  Evaluate your own biases. Take a survey or have your interviewing committee take a survey to reveal their implicit biases.


3.  Writing the job description: Think broadly as subtle word choices can have a strong impact on the application pool. Another resource on writing the job description: https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/job-descriptions/2018/5-must-dos-for-writing-inclusive-job-descriptions 

  • Women tend only to apply when they meet all requirements so keeping the job description broad will allow for a more diverse set of applications.
  • Use gender neutral language in your job description. Screen your job description with a gender language tool. For example, using words like “competitive” or “determined” will attract more male applicants while words like “collaborative” or “cooperative” will attract more female applicants.

4.  Recruitment:

  • Recruit from non-traditional resources.
    • SACNAS: Society for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
    • Black Postdoctoral Association
  • Diversity attracts diversity.
  • Workplace flexibility also attracts diversity.
  • Limit job description to "must-haves."
  • FAQ:
    • Is it OK to specifically hiring one gender? NO
    • Is it OK to specify immigration status? YES

5.  Reviewing the candidates:

  • Initial blind review: remove names from CVs or resumes
  • Software is available to screen for specific skillsets and reduced bias. See examples:
  • Pre-hire personality assessment: personality scores do not significantly differ for under-represented minorities. See these examples:
  • Or just google “pre-hire personality assessment”--there are a lot of options!

6.  Interviewing

  • Use 10-12 Standardized interview questions: Interview questions should be the same from candidate to candidate (SEE TEAM MEMBER INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR SAMPLE QUESTIONS). Other sample questions in Box 1.
  • Use a score card for each candidate and how well they answer your questions (SEE TEAM MEMBER INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR SAMPLE SCORE CARD).
  • Use a likability score: this is an attempt to quantify/control for your “gut” feeling about a candidate
  • See the Team Member Interview Guide for best practice guidelines.
  • Work sample test: give a task that mimics the kinds of tasks the candidate will be asked to do on the job. This allows a quantifiable comparison between candidates.
  • Use a diverse interview panel to attempt to control for unconscious bias.

7.  Other resources for diverse hiring:

Box 1

General Questions (experience-based):

  • What do you expect out of this job?
  • Describe the best manager you ever had. What made him or her stand out? How did you interact with this manager? How did you react to feedback, instructions, and criticism he/she gave you
  • What are your three most important responsibilities in your current job? What special skills or knowledge did you need to perform these duties?

General Questions (communication):

  • In your previous jobs, how important were communication and interaction with others?
  • What experiences have you had with a miscommunication with a customer/employee/supervisor? What happened and how do you solve the problem?

General Questions (interpersonal skills):

  • Give me a description of a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer (internal or external). How did you handle it, and what was the outcome?

General Questions (problem-solving):

  • Tell me about an assignment that really challenged you. How was your approach different from that of others?
  • Tell me about a project that really got you excited. (Can probe what happened to the project, how it turned out, what problems arose, how they were handled, and perhaps most important, whether the candidates’ obvious enthusiasm led to any oversights or miscalculations.)
  • Have you ever had to make a difficult decision where no policy existed? Tell me what you did.
  • Think of a day when you had many things to do and describe how you scheduled your time.

Faculty/Research Specific:

  • Describe a positive experience that you had with a mentor, and how do you intend to apply that to your mentoring roles?
  • What do you know about the goals of this department, and how do you fit into those goals?
  • Describe a learning opportunity you had that increased your understanding and appreciation for workplace or educational diversity.

General Questions (leadership and personal development):

  • Tell me about an important goal you set in the past and how you went about accomplishing it.
  • What efforts have you made in the last year to become a better staff/faculty/administrator?
  • Tell me about an occasion when your performance didn’t live up to your expectation. (Tough one to answer. Give the candidate points for poise and honesty; and be sure to see whether anything was learned from the situation).
  • Tell me something specific you have done that has been creative