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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Johnson, Ph.D.

Equitable and Inclusive Recruitment and Hiring Practices (Part II)

This month, we share our approaches for developing diverse, culturally competent recruitment teams and establishing fair and equitable hiring guidelines.

1. Recruitment Team Development

Research suggests odd-sized groups perform better than even-sized groups and avoid decision-making ties. The team should include an HR representative (or someone familiar with HR policies) and senior and junior-level employees from the department needing to fill the vacancy. Members should be committed to fair and equitable hiring and have different perspectives and backgrounds.

Unfortunately, many in-house recruitment teams tend not to reflect the desired diversity of the applicant pool. Strategize ways to diversify a recruitment team. For example, utilize external hiring consultants well-versed in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), or ask employees with diverse backgrounds/lived experiences from complementary departments to join the team.

2. Recruitment Team Decision-Making

Our previous blog mentioned that when groups have too much cohesion, lack transparency, or have overly authoritarian leadership, it can lead to irrational or poor decision-making. To mitigate some of these pitfalls, ensure everyone understands the group's objective, their role, and everyone else's role (check biases when assigning roles!). The team should develop rules (e.g., decide which decisions require a consensus and which a majority) and a safe mechanism for members to voice concerns or dissent. Below are some guidelines to help team members feel invested in the group's charge.

· Learn the mission, vision, and diversity goals of the company, which should include hiring policies.

· Partake in DEI training and provide a statement that signals a commitment to equitable hiring.

· Identify "lessons learned" from previous searches, especially if the applicant pool lacked diversity.

· Assist with developing and/or reviewing hiring materials with an equity lens.

· Conduct an after-action review; in other words, provide "lessons learned" for the next team.

3. Develop a Fair Screening and Hiring Process

For each of the following, develop standardized questions and scoring sheets (rubrics) to ensure the same questions are asked, and the same scoring criteria are used for all applicants.

Initial Screening

Each team member should independently review the applicants' materials using an established rubric. Avoid consulting with one another. After submitting completed rubrics, everyone on the team should be able to view everyone else's scores and meet to discuss discrepancies, inconsistencies, or biased scoring trends. Compile the information and calculate a final average score for each applicant.

The team meets to confirm whom to invite for a telephone or virtual interview. Decisions incongruent with scores (e.g., inviting a lower-scoring applicant versus a higher-scoring applicant) should include a written justification.

Send a letter or email thanking those applicants who are not advancing. They invested time in your organization, and creating goodwill toward your company for future hiring needs makes sense.

Step 2. Preliminary Interview

Invite applicants for a phone or virtual interview. Use an email template so all applicants receive a similarly worded email. The preliminary interviews should have the same time limit and format (e.g., do not conduct a phone interview for one candidate but a virtual interview for another). During virtual interviews, all team members should have cameras on, focusing solely on the interview. Turning off cameras, signing on late, or texting conveys disinterest (consciously or unconsciously). This behavior could lead to a negative reciprocal exchange: the applicant senses indifference and becomes disinterested (or discouraged), leading to being evaluated as lacking enthusiasm. Respect, consistency, and standardization are key for impartial and fair preliminary interviews.




Everyone on the team should attend all interviews. Try to avoid having different team members interview different applicants. If the number of applicants dictates the latter method, the applicants should be randomly assigned to each interview group. From there, select the top-scoring applicants from each group for face-to-face interviews.


Step 3. Final Interview


Follow the same guidelines above regarding respect, consistency, and standardization for face-to-face interviews. Additionally, identify a point person who will help applicants with logistics (e.g., where to park) and provide them with the interview itinerary so they know what to expect and whom they will meet. Before the interview, it is a good idea for each member to review a "check your biases" list to ensure a fair process. Below are a few examples.


· Avoid making assumptions based on appearance

· Focus more on skills and abilities rather than education and qualifications

· Be aware that handshaking, eye contact, and humor are culturally based

· The first few minutes of an interview can be very overwhelming for an applicant – do not let a first impression affect the remainder of the interview

· Practice active listening


Incorporate these guidelines to help your company diversify and grow. Next month, we will discuss reviewing applications with an equity lens.


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