Diversity in interviewing
Interviewing prospective staff can be as stressful for you as for your applicants, as you are always conscious of staying on the right side of anti-discrimination legislation. Following a recent case in last week’s press, you need to be on guard.
You would be breaking the law if you discriminated against an applicant in relation to their gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, religion, disability, status as a married person or a civil partner, pregnancy, maternity leave, union membership or age.
If more than one person is conducting the interview, it is a good idea for them to meet in advance to agree the questions to put to applicants, ensuring they always relate to the role.
When interviewing a number of applicants, try to put the same questions to each person in the same order. You should also avoid ‘chitchat’ with the candidates to avoid asking inappropriate questions about the applicant’s private life or personal situation – for example, questions about sexual orientation or family planning should be avoided.
In another recent case the employer was ordered to pay £4,000 for injury to feelings to a prospective female employee on the basis of questions asked at the interview, which implied that she would not be able to hold down the job because she had children.
If you want to ask questions about a sensitive topic, such as disability, then seek guidance first. As a general rule, remember to only ask questions relevant to the applicant’s ability to do the job.
Above all if in doubt do not ask the question – alarm bells will be ringing for a reason! It is also important to document the interview and update notes immediately after the interview has finished.
Any candidate can request a copy of their interview notes under the data protection act. It is therefore important to stick to facts and avoid commenting on personal traits or anything which you would not wish the candidate to see. The decision of whether to hire should also be down to skills only.
The burden of proof lies on the employer. This means that rather than the employee/candidate proving there has been discrimination, the employer has to demonstrate that they have not violated the law in the country they operate.
Asking yourself the following questions will let you see how diverse and inclusive your company is:
1. WHAT IS THE COMPANIES MOST IMPORTANT VALUES?
“This question typically highlights many things, including diversity, and provides a glimpse into their culture.
2. HOW IMPORTANT IS DIVERSITY TO YOU, AND WHAT VALUE DOES IT BRING?
“Every organization should have an idea of their business case for diversity and inclusion and should also be able to articulate that
3. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE FEELS INCLUDED?
“While diversity does positively impact the bottom line, inclusion is just as important. “Organizations that are actively creating inclusion strategies have assessed their organization to know both their inclusion strengths and challenges. They’ve also created plans to address those challenges with best-practice programming.”
4. CAN YOU SHARE DATA ON THE ORGANIZATION’S DIVERSITY?
Most organizations have this data readily available and are clear about certain roles, departments or levels that are lacking. The best companies will also have “talent development programs that ensure an internal pipeline of great talent”
5. HOW DIVERSE IS THE EXECUTIVE TEAM?
Speaking of advancement, noting the diversity of the leadership team says a lot about the upward mobility for diverse candidates and will likely indicate a more inclusive culture for candidates of underrepresented backgrounds.
6. IS THE LEADERSHIP TEAM COMMITTED TO DIVERSITY?
If the leadership team isn’t particularly diverse, you can still ask this question to gauge how highly they value diversity. “While candidates can check the organization’s website prior to the interview to see what they publicly say about diversity.
7. IS THE COMPANY’S RECRUITING EFFORTS SUPPORTING A DIVERSE CULTURE?
Pay close attention to this - it shows if you cast a wide enough net to attract a variety of backgrounds and talents.
8. WHAT DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, AND CULTURAL COMPETENCE TRAINING HAS SUPERVISOR HAD?
Given how closely you work together, it’s important to make sure that diversity is both a priority for them and something they have experience in.
9. WHO HOLDS SUPERVISOR ACCOUNTABLE TO DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION MEASURES?
Diversity shouldn’t just be a one on one training session for your manager. It should be an ongoing effort that they are held accountable for. Obviously, if no one is holding them accountable and no measures are in place.
10. DOES THE COMPANY HAVE ANY OTHER DIVERSITY PROGRAMS IN PLACE?
Of course, it’s ideal if a company already has programs dedicated to supporting and celebrating diverse team members, or bringing them in. So if a company isn’t quite where you’d like them to be at the moment, plans to ramp up diversity programs and initiatives are a good sign that they’ll get there in due time.