In the quest to understand how recruiters can better assess a candidate’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, we’ve gathered insights from industry professionals, including HR managers and recruiters. Their advice ranges from assessing impact of team diversity to exploring innovative approaches to DEI initiatives. Dive into their expert perspectives to enhance your recruitment process.

Assessing Impact of Team Diversity

“Tell me about the most diverse team you have worked with. How did the team’s diversity improve the outcome for that team? Were there any challenges for the team?” These questions could lead to additional questions regarding the benefits from the team’s diversity and the challenges.

Beth Menton
Human Resource Manager

Evaluating Cultural Sensitivity and Inclusivity

“Tell me about a time when you worked with someone from a different cultural background, and how you handled it.” This question allows me to see how the candidate identifies differences in culture. It also shows me how they work to create an inclusive environment. Some answers make it clear that the candidate has never had any experience working with someone of a different background at all.

Ashley Dawes
Director of Human Resources, Chums

Probing Cultural Conflict Resolution Skills

In my years of experience as a recruiter, I’ve found an insightful question for getting a sense of a candidate’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI):

“Could you elaborate on your approach to resolving conflicts or misunderstandings that may arise due to cultural differences in a professional setting?”

This inquiry provides profound insights into a candidate’s ability to navigate and mitigate diversity-related issues. It allows me to gauge their proficiency in conflict resolution, as well as their aptitude for empathetic communication and cultural sensitivity. These qualities are of paramount importance in nurturing an inclusive work environment.

Natasha Brown
Technical Recruiter, On Platform

Prioritizing Actions Over Beliefs in DEI

When gauging a candidate on DEI competencies, it’s important to distinguish between beliefs held and actions taken. Do they simply complete the required trainings from HR, or is DEI a core value embraced by this candidate’s interactions with co-workers and clients?

Personally, I keep the questions broad and let the candidate fill in the blanks for me. If we’re not careful, we can lead candidates to answers they think we want to hear by asking double-barreled questions or by continually rephrasing. Make it simple and thoughtful. I recommend trying this one:

“Please explain how diversity, equity and inclusion have impacted your work.”

Emily Smith
Recruiter, The Jonus Group

Scrutinizing Candidate’s Effective Marketing Contribution

The DEI initiative of recent years is long overdue. As a veteran recruiter in the advertising/marketing niche, not only do recruiters shoulder some of the responsibility for its acceptance, we have an obligation to carry it out. That’s much easier said than done.

The primary objective of any messaging, regardless of the platform, is to educate, inform, and entertain the target market about the product or service. There is no more effective method than having the primary audience be instrumental in the development of messaging. This requires scrutiny from the initial screening of applicants through the execution of the advertising production. In order to do so, we must vet candidates properly.

Not just in terms of gender and skin color, but their psychological makeup. This requires proper screening. Creating effective marketing starts with hiring the right candidate… that requires asking the tough questions.

“What tools or skills will you personally provide to the most effective marketing?”

Jamie McCann
Executive Recruiter, Cohen Partners

Seeking Evidence of Proactive Inclusion

“Can you share a specific instance where you actively contributed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment? What impact did your actions have?”

This question does more than merely assess awareness; it probes into actionable experiences and solicits evidence of genuine commitment. It prevents canned answers by asking for a specific example and gauging the candidate’s real-world impact. By doing so, we learn about the candidate’s values and ability to implement them meaningfully, elevating the interview from a standard Q&A to a discussion of proactive inclusion.

Trang Nguyen
Corporate Recruiter, NASCAR

Exploring Efforts to Bridge Cultural Gaps

To evaluate a candidate’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, recruiters or hiring managers can ask, “What have you done to relate to individuals from different backgrounds?” This question delves into a candidate’s efforts to connect with people from diverse backgrounds, showcasing their willingness to bridge gaps and promote inclusivity. It assesses whether the candidate actively seeks to understand and engage with individuals whose experiences, perspectives and identities differ from their own.

Candidates genuinely committed to diversity will demonstrate a track record of taking proactive steps to relate to and learn from others, underscoring their dedication to fostering an inclusive workplace where diverse voices are welcomed and valued.

GEM Recruiting AI

Stephanie White
Director, EC1 Partners

Modeling Inclusivity from the Candidate’s Approach

To get a sense of a candidate’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), you can ask, “What are a few examples of inclusive behaviors that you like to model for others?” This question works well for all types of roles.

When employees model inclusivity for one another, it sets the tone that DEI is a core component of company culture. Committed candidates should be able to name at least a few examples from previous workplaces. If a candidate provides a vague answer or can’t point to anything specific, DEI may not be a top priority for them.

Alex Lahmeyer
Founder and DEI Consultant, Boundless Arc

Requesting Tangible DEI Contributions

One question recruiters can ask to assess a candidate’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is, “Can you provide specific examples of how you have actively contributed to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace culture in your previous roles?” This question invites candidates to demonstrate their tangible efforts and experiences in promoting diversity and inclusion, going beyond mere lip service.

By asking for concrete examples, recruiters can gain insights into a candidate’s understanding of diversity issues, their ability to take meaningful actions and their willingness to create an inclusive environment. It also allows candidates to showcase their past successes and initiatives, highlighting their genuine commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Melissa Pennington
HR Director

Personal Relationships Reflecting DEI Commitment

“Tell me about the people you count as close friends.” It’s that simple. Listen to the description. Ask probing questions about how they met. If people aren’t engaging with individuals different from themselves, they aren’t serious about diversity and inclusion.

Sandy Fiaschetti, Ph.D.
Founder and Managing Partner, Lodestone People Consulting

Continuously Looking into DEIB in Recruitment

There are many ways to learn and assess a candidate’s commitment to DEIB. One effective method is to simply ask. Here are a few ways to ask in the initial recruiter screen:

“How have you supported people from underrepresented communities in the workplace?”

“How have you actively helped advance DEIB in your workplace or for your customers in your previous role(s)?”

“What do diversity, inclusion and belonging mean to you?”

“Tell me about a time when you championed diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace.”

The assessment should not stop at the recruiter screen. If an organization truly wants to assess for this, at each stage of the interview process, questions should be asked about this. If an organization is hiring a people leader, the hiring manager should ask a question about how that leader has supported DEIB efforts again.

For example:

“How do you stay educated on issues related to diversity and inclusion, and how do you incorporate this knowledge into your work?”

Rachel Kitty Cupples
Senior Recruiter, Textio

Taking Innovative Approaches to DEI Initiatives

Ask them, “If you were to design a company-wide diversity and inclusion initiative from scratch, what innovative approaches or programs would you implement, and why?”

This question prompts the candidate to demonstrate a deep understanding of what diversity and inclusion mean, as well as their commitment and passion for creating a more inclusive workspace.

Look for a candidate who can go beyond conventional best practices, for example, recruitment, training, mentoring, policies and leadership commitment.

Katharine Gallagher
Professional Growth Specialist- Education, Career, Recruitment, Productivity, Business


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