Beyond the Resume: Building a Diverse & Inclusive Hiring Process

diverse and inclusive hiring practices
Author: Kirsten Carroll

I like to think about hiring as a bit like dating on both sides. You’re both trying to get to know each other. You may stumble around on questions or talk about history you didn’t intend to. You also try to present yourselves in the best light. What better time for companies to let candidates know they are thinking about things like diversity and inclusion than in the interview and hiring process? 


Here are 10 tips and insights on hiring, interviewing, and beyond: 

1. Think about first impressions. 

This is not just true for the candidate but also for hiring managers or interviewers. When it comes to job descriptions, make sure you’re using neutral language and including only requirements that are necessary for the job. If you have a hiring website that tells about your company, include accurate depictions of what that’s like. Giving a good first impression but having it be a false one is worse than being real about where you are in your diversity journey.

2. Know what you shouldn't say.

It’s easy to get caught up in a conversation and forget yourself, so it’s essential to be aware of things to NOT bring up. For instance, asking about the person’s family, age, and even transportation situation should be off-limits. When talking with a candidate, ask yourself: “Does this topic apply to the job and their ability to do it?” and only ask those questions.

3. Be mindful of the words you use.

If you are unsure about something, think carefully about the words you use when you ask a question. By broaching a subject, you may think you’re putting someone at ease, but you could be giving them a red flag. An example of this is in asking for “preferred” pronouns. Someone’s pronouns are just that – their pronouns – and you want to address them with the pronouns they use. So drop the “preferred” and just ask what pronouns they use if they haven’t already indicated on their resume, online profile, or email signature.  

4. Treat all interviewees the same.

Having a prepared list of questions (hopefully approved from both an HR and DEI lens) will help to keep things on the safe side. You are giving folks a level playing field when you ask each candidate the same questions. Certainly, conversations can take any number of directions, but your set list of questions should remain the same.

5. Think about your questions and what you really want to hear about.

Standard questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” are all well and good, but what would the interview be like if it was simply about the potential employee’s work and achievements? Select questions that will tell you about how the candidate will do the job at hand because that’s really what matters.

6. Diversify the interview team.

If you have multiple interviews or panel interviews as part of your process, ensure you have a diverse group participating. This can help in evaluating how candidates view the experience, and provide a broader range of feedback you can use to make an educated hiring decision.

7. Have a plan for onboarding and team involvement.

When you’ve finally made the hiring decision, make sure you’re starting off the candidate on the right foot. You’re an expert in your company, its processes, and its culture. Have a plan for how you will get this person acclimated and get the team acclimated to them. Have regularly scheduled check-ins with the new person to ensure things are going smoothly.

8. Make accessibility a focus.

Recognizing that not everyone works or learns in the same way is important for a successful onboarding and team experience. When you’re training, check in with the new person to make sure any accessibility needs are being met and that your training style is a fit. Be open to adjusting accordingly.

9. Take the team's temperature

How is diversity working in the workplace? You might not know until you ask. This can be an important step at any time during an employee’s life cycle with you. 

10. Be open to learning new things.

We’re all learning all the time. There is no shame in that! Approaching each encounter, – whether it be interviewing, onboarding, or something else entirely – with an open mind and willingness to learn can change the dynamic on both sides. Someone’s lived experience or perspective may differ from yours, and that’s okay. Learning from our differences (just like taking time to focus on diversity) helps make individuals and your organization stronger.


If you walk away from this with one thing, I hope it’s to bring a willingness to focus on what matters. This can change depending on where you are in the employee’s life cycle with you. The overarching goal is to be open and encourage more diversity in your organization in a myriad of ways. Investigating how these steps can be used in your process can be a great start!