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Your Commitment to DEI Starts in the Interview Process

Layoffs are affecting so much of the workforce now – and especially Black folks.  

Laid off or not, the job search process can be stressful, anxiety-inducing, and downright demoralizing at times. Black people, and women in particular, are fighting two battles: a generally competitive job market and biases that show up in hiring processes that deny them roles they’re perfectly (and many times overly) qualified for. 

DEI can play a meaningful role here and can shift the hiring and interviewing process into one that is candidate-centered. This is arguably the most important point in the employee life cycle because it sets the tone for what Black employees can expect during their tenure. Starting on a high note and demonstrating your commitment to DEI can begin with these actions:

Share the Salary Range: Regardless of whether your state requires you to share the range or not, be upfront and transparent with candidates about the role’s compensation. Confirm salary expectations from candidates starting at the first interview instead of waiting until negotiating at the end. 

You can also ensure that Black candidates, and women especially, are not leaving money on the table by advising them on what qualifications you’re looking for at each end of the pay range. Say your range for a given role is $100,000 - $125,000. Share with candidates what it would take for them to enter at as high of a starting salary as possible so that they can highlight that experience all throughout the interview process. Gone should be the days where candidates have to guess what the salary is, and be shamed if their requirements are above what you can offer. The goal here should be to ensure that the candidate is getting what they need and that they feel valued by a potential salary. Ignoring this or playing hardball will only cost you in the long run – employees will leave when they know they’re not getting what they’re worth. 

Be Clear on What Candidates Can Expect Throughout the Interview Process and Share Timely Updates: Just as you would expect your employees to deliver reasonable timelines for completing a project, you should also be upfront and diligent about sharing the flow and clear timeline for your interview process. There’s no worse feeling as a candidate than getting through two or three interviews only to find out that there’s another….

…and another.

…and a writing assignment.

…and a few more phone calls for a ‘vibe check.’

If you don’t clearly lay out the terms of the interview process ahead of time and hold yourself to it for each candidate, you allow the potential for biases to seep into your interview process. Make it clear from the start how many interviews are expected, when they will take place, and when the position is expected to start. We’re human, so delays may happen; communicate those clearly and in a timely fashion with candidates. 

Provide Interview Questions Ahead of Time: The interview process provides an added layer of stress for Black candidates, where they know they must present in a specific way to a likely majority White hiring team in order to land the role. By providing candidates with interview questions ahead of time, you give them the opportunity to show up as their authentic selves and be in the moment. 

This is especially helpful for neurodivergent candidates, who may need additional time to process questions in real-time. Be mindful, though, that some candidates with anxiety disorders may prefer not to review the questions ahead of time to prevent themselves from ruminating on their upcoming interview in the days leading up to it. Still, providing questions in advance allows candidates the autonomy to do what is best for their preparation, and to shine when their time comes. 

Pay People for Their Time Spent on Assessments: If you’re still including some sort of project or assignment as part of your interview process, it’s a must to compensate candidates for their time. While a job search is about quality over quantity, research shows that it can still take upwards of 80 applications (or more) to land just one job. Show potential candidates that you value their time and expertise by paying them for it. 

For Black candidates, compensating them for their time and labor is essential in demonstrating that their expertise is valued. So many of the Black women I have coached or who are my own colleagues have had an experience where they’ve been required to submit a draft strategy as part of the interview process, only to not even get the offer. As a friend of mine often says, as a Black person, the concept of stolen labor is something that I do not take lightly; build equity during the interview process by budgeting for any tasks you’ll be requiring candidates to complete. 

Give Candidates Time to Speak with People Outside of the Hiring Committee: I always advise the Black women I coach to request to speak with other Black women at an organization or on their direct team before accepting a job offer. You can facilitate this for candidates by building time for it into the interview process. You’ve vetted the candidate thoroughly, and they’ve been gracious along the way. Return the courtesy by allowing them access to those outside of the hiring committee to make an informed decision, should they get the offer. 

DEI plays a crucial role for both companies and candidates during the interview process. Through this lens, you can shift the process from one that asks what have you done for me lately, to one that gets curious about who candidates are, and how your company is the mutually beneficial place for them to work. 

Schedule a consultation with ShiftED Consulting today to get started on your journey!

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