June 11, 2021

How to Select a Diverse Interview Panel and Improve Your Recruitment Strategy

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Diversity has become an increasingly important driving force for innovation at the workplace. 

A BCG study drawing a positive correlation between diverse teams and innovation-driven growth confirms this claim.

But building a diverse team cannot be limited to diversity training. You should also focus your efforts on hiring diverse candidates.

As opposed to traditional recruiting methods, a diverse interview panel can significantly enhance your recruitment efforts to avoid homogeneity.

Simply put, a diverse interview panel involves individuals of varying orientations and opinions. These interviewers differ in several aspects—like race, gender, sexual orientation, skills, and experience. 

Such a heterogeneous panel can help make the candidates feel comfortable while ensuring greater diversity in the hired candidates.

So, if you’re looking to assemble a diverse interview panel for your recruitment strategy, this article will talk about some best practices to follow.  

1. Measure current diversity in the company to identify parameters

To begin assembling a diverse interview panel for your inclusive hiring process, you first need to analyze the present diversity in the company—you can use a standardized test for this.

Measuring diversity levels involves factors like composition in terms of age, gender, and race. This will give you a clearer picture of your workforce representation, after which you can devise parameters that are missing in representation or are not equally represented right now. 

Retention is another critical metric that will help you understand the company’s diversity and how their experience has been working here.

Based on a review of the existing diversity in the team, you can define the parameters that need improvement. These parameters will facilitate your selection of the right interviewers.

2. Provide diversity training in the company 

Diversity training is undoubtedly a crucial part of creating awareness and building a more diverse team. A good diversity training program should essentially include:

  • Clearly defined goals 
  • Interactive and hands-on approach for practical learning
  • Regularly updated material like worksheets and resources like blogs for better context
  • A credible mentor or trainer

Together with reducing discrimination and encouraging sensitivity—diversity training can also help assess what’s lacking in your team. After the training session ends, you can take a standard test from all employees to understand their perspectives.

The test results will help you gauge the limitations in your existing efforts towards building a diverse team. And eventually, these results should govern your selection of panelists.  

3. Be mindful of the panelists’ unconscious bias

When building a diverse interview panel, you should always pay attention to the interviewers’ unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias essentially forces your brain to make discriminatory assumptions even if you are consciously against all discrimination.

In his podcast, HR thought leader Matt Adler talks about some of the commonly visible instances of unconscious biases among recruiters. Whether it’s about candidates with a gap in their CV or those looking to change their career altogether, several implicit biases exist among HR professionals.

For these reasons, it is crucial to assess your interviewers’ biases and build awareness among them. Here are a few hiring biases you should try eliminating among your panelists:

  • Educational: A candidate’s academic background 
  • Geographical, religion or race: A candidate’s community, race, religion, or nationality. 
  • Gender: The assumption that one gender performs better than the others. 
  • Affinity: Personal liking for the candidate. 
  • Orientation: A candidate’s sexual orientation or preferences.     

4. Account for inclusivity 

Your efforts towards creating diverse teams start with writing better job descriptions. Focus on personalizing it using the ‘you’ word instead of writing ‘the ideal candidate.’

However, inclusivity also plays a crucial role in assembling a diverse interview panel. Inclusivity often becomes restricted to race and gender. But there’s a lot more to it.

Here are some factors you should consider when building a diverse interview panel:

  • Gender: Take representatives from gender, non-binary, and transgender groups.
  • Race/Ethnicity: Consider individuals from white and colored backgrounds while also looking at minority nationalities.
  • Sexual Orientation: Include interviewers of varying sexual orientations from the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Religion: Include people of different religious affiliations with varying beliefs and customs.
  • Education: Include individuals of various educational backgrounds, both formal and informal.
  • Disability: Promote equal access for the disabled. 

5. Identify the panelists’ skills and diversity contribution

An interview panel has to decide whether a candidate is the right fit for the job or not. So, another factor for selecting your interviewers is naturally their skills and expertise.

Evaluate the panelists’ work experience and performance at the organization. Identify the skills that make them a suitable fit for the interview panel.

But more importantly, look at their contributions to the company’s diversity efforts. In addition to their knowledge for assessing a candidate’s technical proficiency, the interviewers should also be ready to uphold the company’s diversity.  

6. Define the roles of each panelist

It’s always easier to find the right fit when you know what you’re looking for—use this logic to build your interview panel as well. 

While shortlisting the candidates for the panel, clearly define the role for each interviewer. So, panelist A can evaluate the candidates’ skillset, panelist B can study their work ethic, and panelist C can assess their personality.

This defined framework will offer a much-needed clarity on the number of interviewers required and who will assess what quality in the interviewees. In addition, this practice can give you a more focused direction for finding the right panelists.

Conclusion

Recruiting a diverse team does not work well with the traditional approaches to recruitment. Instead, it requires a more meaningful and carefully defined strategy for selecting suitable candidates.

To that end, a diverse interview panel offers a fresh approach for recruiters.

With a diverse interview panel, you can attract more candidates to broaden your hiring pool and improve your decision-making for building a diverse team. It will allow you to create a positive impact for your company through better hiring and greater retention.

Use these factors in the article to your advantage and put together the ideal interview panel to supplement your recruitment efforts and represent diversity in its truest essence.

Adela Belin is an independent content strategist and marketer with a love for the written word. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.