How to Recruit a Diverse Workforce

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A study shows that the more diverse your workforce is, the more likely your company is to gain a competitive edge over companies in the same space. (1) So the question then becomes, “how do you recruit for a diverse workforce?”

But before you get started, you also need to consider that recruiting on diversity alone isn’t a good idea either. Under laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it’s illegal to discriminate against race, color, religion, sex, age, and many other protected characteristics. Recruiting solely on the basis of a diversity quota also puts you at risk of overlooking the most qualified candidates.

Diversity Hiring by Identifying Intrinsic Biases

A better way of approaching diversity hiring is by identifying intrinsic biases in your hiring and recruiting processes and taking steps to address them. But how? You may ask. One way is to use structured interviews.

A structured interview (also known as a standardized interview or a researcher-administered survey) is a quantitative research method commonly employed in survey research. The aim of this approach is to ensure that each interview is presented with exactly the same questions in the same order.

As much as we try to reinforce structured interviewing, sometimes biases inadvertently make it into the interview process.

Here are a few examples and recommendations:

You might compare candidates to the role’s predecessor. This person was an exemplary employee, and during the hiring process, you use this individual as the anchor. You judge the candidate on the previous individual’s attributes, rather than their own. By using structured interviews, you follow the same predetermined, standardized questions for every candidate. Many HR tools have built-in interview tools that help you create a more standardized method for interviewing candidates.

As many as 60% of interviewers will make up their minds about a candidate within 15 minutes of meeting them. Once that decision is made, typically everything that follows confirms that initial decision. Instead of doing a proper assessment, time is spent focusing on good qualities for “yes” candidates or focusing on bad qualities for “no” candidates. Stick to asking factual questions. This will help you avoid forming opinions on information not related to the role itself.

Interviewees also have the tendency to come to the conclusion that candidates with the most information with the best option. If one job seeker proactively provides work samples and their social media profiles with their application, that’s a great sign they have desirable qualities, but it doesn’t automatically make them the best candidate out of the group. Learn more about the others before making a decision.

Before any interview, determine what exactly you want to know from the candidate that supports their suitability and fit for the role. Of course, you’ll want to hire for culture fit too, but that can always be determined in a later interview. Don’t overload yourself with information about the candidate in one sitting.