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GuidesEmployee experienceYour guide to running an inclusive interview in 2024

Your guide to running an inclusive interview in 2024

Last updated

29 November 2023


Claire Bonneau

Reviewed by

Shawnna Johnson

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion are key foundational stepping stones to building a dependable team. But is your company doing enough to ensure your interview process attracts a wide variety of potential candidates?

Most employees form a first impression of your company during the initial hiring and interviewing process. During this time, they are learning more about what working with your team will be like. You should ensure that every candidate feels respected by creating an inclusive interview strategy.

Help your company stand out (and land better quality candidates) by being intentional with your inclusive interview practices. This article provides top tips for running an inclusive interview that will enable you to build a more diverse and effective team.

What is an inclusive interview?

An inclusive interview is a meeting between a hiring team and a potential candidate that ensures every party is respected by using neutral and inclusive language. This involves avoiding questions or terminology that shows a bias toward a person’s age, gender, race, religion, ethnic background, or physical abilities.

Inclusive interview practices should be a cornerstone of your brand’s hiring process. They help not only make the interview process more enjoyable for everyone involved but also help your team hire more diverse and high-quality candidates.

Creating an inclusive interview process

Here are a few top tips to integrate into your hiring process to improve upon your existing inclusive interview practices:

Remove bias from your job description

Your company’s job description posting is the first thing your potential new team members see. This is where they will begin to form an opinion and impression about your brand, so it needs to make them feel comfortable, welcome, and interested.

You can ensure your job posting is inclusive and unbiased by following the best practices below.

Avoiding discriminatory terminology

Your job description should never mention preference or non-preference for a candidate based on their gender, age, race, ethnic background, religion, or physical abilities. Bonafide job requirements are exceptions, such as a preference for a candidate who can routinely lift 50 pounds or they won’t be able to do the job.

Avoiding discriminatory terminology is the bare minimum all companies should achieve when posting employment opportunities. Not adhering to this limits the pool of qualified applicants and may also be unlawful.

Using gender-neutral language

Avoid using gendered language such as “he” or “she” for any role. Instead, speak to the applicant directly using “you.” For example, you might say, “In this role, you will be expected to help the team meet the following goals.”

Additionally, use gender-neutral terms like “sales-person” or “team member” instead of gendered options when describing the role.

Being mindful of ageist wording

Be aware of language that may alienate people based on their age. Terms like “new college graduate” or “senior-level experience” can put up barriers and deter people who would potentially be a great fit just because they feel their age makes them undesirable.

Proofreading AI-written copy

If your company often uses AI tools to help write your job descriptions, proofreading the copy to remove any potential bias is imperative.

AI tools are trained on human content, so they can develop biases, such as only using the pronouns he/him for upper management positions. Be sure to check and adjust any AI-assisted copy before you post.

Don’t list too many job requirements

Listing too many “nice to have” requirements could exclude many qualified candidates from applying. Instead, list the minimum requirements as those skills that are hard to train or hard to find. Be willing to offer training for the rest.

Build an inclusive interview strategy

Once you have a list of candidates interested in interviewing for your position, you need to design an inclusive and accessible hiring process that will accommodate their different needs.

Here are some examples of inclusive interview practices:

Offering different communication channels

Job interviews used to take place in person, often at the hiring company’s office. Now, with the expansion of new technologies and remote working practices, your company can offer a more inclusive interview experience by allowing candidates to speak to you in person, on a video call, or by phone.

In-person interviews might not be practical for some applicants, but you don’t want to deter them by only offering this option. Similarly, some candidates may feel more confident presenting their abilities face to face. Offer multiple communication channels to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Scheduling flexible interview times

When it’s time to interview your candidates, offer a wide variety of interview slots. Not every candidate can make an 11 am weekday interview, so do your best to provide later afternoon or evening appointments for more flexibility.

Sending a pre-interview outline to prepare your candidates

Show that your company is organized and interested by sending a pre-interview outline of what the candidate can expect during their appointment. Not only does this gesture help alleviate the tension and stress associated with a job interview, but it also allows candidates to pre-plan and better prepare.

This simple practice goes a long way to improving the candidate’s experience, and it’s a great way to improve the hiring process within your company.

Include diverse participants on the interview and selection panel

Take stock of your interview team and make sure it’s an inclusive group that represents your workforce and candidate pool. This will demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion and make your candidates feel more valued and welcomed.

Write inclusive interview questions

During the interview, your hiring team needs to consider the types of questions asked and how they are worded. Use the following tips to write inclusive interview questions and make sure every candidate feels respected:

Keep questions specific to the role

While it can be tempting to learn more about the candidate’s past experiences and life, the bulk of your interview questions should remain on the topic of the new position and the company. Asking too many questions about the candidate’s personal life can be uncomfortable and jarring, not to mention unlawful.

Prepare your questions ahead of time to keep the interview on track.

Don’t make assumptions about the candidate

When you meet with a potential job candidate, first, ask for their name and preferred pronouns so you can start the interview on the right foot. Throughout the interview, avoid making assumptions about the candidate. These are often based on stereotypes of gender, age, or ethnic background.

Your potential candidate may perceive your assumptions as disrespectful, hurting your company’s ability to hire the best quality talent for the role.

Standardize your interview questions

Use the same interview layout and questions for every person you speak with to keep the process respectful and compliant. This enables your team to get a better understanding of each candidate’s approach to your questions and removes the risk of allowing personal bias (known or not) to change the interview outcome.

Ask candidates for feedback

Finally, after completing a round of interviews, send a candidate experience survey to collect feedback on the hiring process (even to those who were not selected for the role). This is a great opportunity to include questions about the level of inclusivity candidates experienced during the hiring process.

Here are some example survey questions about interview inclusivity:

  • When reading our job posting, did you find the description was inclusive and equitable for all applicants?

  • Did you feel respected during your interview with our team?

  • What areas can our team improve to make a more inclusive interview process for future candidates?

Use the feedback to adjust and improve your existing hiring process. Diversity and inclusion are not destinations but ever-changing goals, so be open-minded and willing to adapt your approach based on feedback.

Hire great candidates by using an inclusive interview process

Hiring the right people for your company starts with being able to attract a diverse group of candidates. It finishes with intentionally conducting inclusive and inviting interviews for all potential new hires.

Help your company grow and improve by investing in inclusive hiring practices that appeal to great talent across all backgrounds and experiences. It’s the best way to build an agile and collaborative team and a win-win for improving employee morale and creating quality products and services.

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