Diverse Interview Panel Best Practices

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Diverse Interview Panel Best Practices

Before we get into best practices, let's answer the question, "What is a diverse interview panel?" Or, maybe even one level deeper, "What is an interview panel?" An interview panel is a team of interviewers from your company that will gather to assess a candidate as a group- offering different points of feedback on how their skills and experience will fit into the team.

A diverse interview panel takes this feedback to the next level by offering a far broader spectrum of feedback on the candidate. This feedback, from diverse perspectives and backgrounds, can provide a more accurate assessment of a candidate's potential fit within the company culture and team.

There are many benefits of diverse interview panels. Diverse interview panels reflect to candidates a commitment to diversity and inclusivity through representation. This signals to potential employees the company's values, enhancing the employer's brand, and attracting a wider pool of talent. It also makes a company better equipped to evaluate diverse candidates holistically. Acknowledging strengths and weaknesses that a homogenous panel may overlook.

Second, a diverse interview panel will gain valuable perspectives. Each interviewer on the panel brings their unique experiences, backgrounds, and viewpoints to the table. This can lead to a more lively and insightful discussion about the candidate's qualifications and potential fit within the team. You can also use structured interviews and interview intelligence to keep these interviews on track so the panel doesn't get off on rabbit trails or into the weeds on any given topic.

Lastly, diverse interview panels bring different skills to the table. Diversity of thought leads to diversity in approach when it comes to assessing a candidate's abilities and potential, and these perspectives lead to a far more comprehensive conclusion.

We're going to talk about implementing specific diverse interview panel best practices in a later section that will significantly enhance the effectiveness of your hiring process- leading to more balanced hiring decisions and ultimately a more inclusive workplace environment, but for now, let's turn our attention to the selection of a diverse interview panel and the tools you need to give them for success.

How To Select A Diverse Interview Panel

We're going to talk about the best practices for conducting diverse panel interviews in the next section, so let's use this one to focus on panel selection. Selecting a diverse panel of interviewers is much easier than many people think. Consider making a quick representation chart or Venn diagram and include these things:

  1. Skills and experience needed for the role. For instance, if this person is joining the sales team, figure out who your best sellers are, and consider adding them to the panel.
  2. Diversity and Representation. Try to ensure diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and background. This goes beyond just physical characteristics- it also includes different perspectives, cultures, and life experiences.
  3. Look for employees from various departments or teams that serve in collaborative or cross-functional roles and consider adding them to the panel. A great representation of this would be adding sales, marketing, and product teams to an account executive interview.
  4. Reach out to internal champions, employee resource groups, or diversity and inclusion committees within your company for recommendations on potential interview panel members.
  5. Consider inviting stakeholders from outside of the company, such as industry experts, consultants, or even customers to join your diverse panel. This can bring valuable external perspectives to the table.
  6. Ensure that all members of the panel are properly trained in conducting interviews and evaluating candidates without bias.
  7. Continuously review and update your panel to ensure a diverse representation for each hiring process.

Remember, how to select a diverse interview panel involves more than representation alone. And, it's not just about checking boxes. True team diversity has to come from an internal commitment to inclusion. It's important to have members who are genuinely committed to creating an inclusive workplace environment and can provide valuable insights during the hiring process. These factors will help you set a baseline for your panel selection.

Best Interview Practices

Implementing a diverse interview panel is only half the battle. You have to ensure they're well trained and interview in accordance with local laws, company ethics, and team diversity strategy.

Best Interview Practices:

  1. Ensure True Representation

Important interview practice includes panel members from different departments, levels of seniority, genders, and ethnicities. One way to ensure that interviews stay on track is by including 1-2 members from the team a person is being interviewed to join, and 1-2 from cross-functional teams that understand the performance expectations of the role.

  1. Provide Implicit Bias/Unconscious Bias Training

Unconscious biases can easily creep into interviews without people realizing it. To avoid this, provide implicit bias training to all members of the interview panel to ensure unbiased evaluations. This usually begins with a test like Harvard's collaboration with Project Implicit and includes other forms of comprehensive, ongoing training.

  1. Standardize Interview Questions

To minimize bias and ensure fairness, it's crucial to standardize the interview questions across all candidates. This doesn’t mean every interview must be identical, but there should be a core set of questions aimed at evaluating the essential skills and competencies needed for the role. This is known as a structured interview and you can learn more about them by clicking here.

  1. Rotating Panel Members

Regularly rotating interview panel members can prevent the stagnation of perspectives and introduce fresh insights into the evaluation process. This practice ensures that the interview process benefits from a wide range of views over time, contributing to a more dynamic and inclusive approach to candidate assessment.

Best practices for conducting an interview extend beyond just having a diverse panel. Setting up a welcoming environment, treating people like they're more than just a number, and assessing them without bias or discrimination should be the standard.

Creating a roles and responsibilities document to send to panel interviewers before interviews can also be helpful. Things to consider including would be:

  1. Define the Interview Phase. Tell the panel which interview this will be for the candidate and what their next step would be.
  2. Outline the role. Remind the panel of what they're being asked to evaluate, as well as the preferred skills and competencies of each candidate.
  3. Have a structured set of interview questions. You can create yours for free here if you'd like.
  4. Discuss what behavior is expected during the interview. This includes basic things like arriving on time and maintaining respectful body language throughout the interview.
  5. Clarify any company policies or standards, such as dress code, use of certain language, or avoiding questions that may be considered discriminatory.
  6. Allow for time to provide feedback and discuss evaluations after the interview is over.

After the interview, each team member should take a few minutes to gather their thoughts, make any notes from the interview, and send them to the hiring manager or recruiter. This helps ensure all feedback is captured and can be used to make an informed hiring decision.

Virtual Interview Best Practices For Employers

Finally, let's talk about remote interviews. Video interview best practices will follow a very similar structure to traditional interviews. Generally, the interviewer will open with an ice breaker, then follow up with an introduction, company info, and role details, open up for candidate questions, talk about the next steps, and close. Sounds easy right? For the most part, it is. And, these steps will be the same for in-person or virtual interviews. However, there are a few things to consider when conducting virtual interviews as an employer- especially if you're accounting for diversity.

Here are some virtual interview best practices for employers to ensure diversity and inclusivity:

  1. Check your tech. Headphones, WiFi, Zoom, Google Workspace, and any other tools you use in interviews should be tested before jumping on the call. This means making sure your headphone batteries are charged, your laptop is plugged in, you're connected to the web, etc. These will all create distractions and waste time if not handled before the interview.
  2. Choose an appropriate virtual background. Make sure your background is professional and not distracting to the candidate.
  3. Be mindful of time zones. If the candidate is in a different time zone make sure to specify the time zone for the interview and confirm it works for them.
  4. Ensure accessibility and equitable access for all candidates. Provide accommodations if needed, such as closed captioning or sign language interpretation for candidates with hearing impairments.
  5. Minimize external distractions. Let your household know you have an important meeting during a specific time and ask that they minimize noise disruptions.
  6. Be prepared for technical difficulties. Have a backup plan in case there are technical difficulties during the interview, such as switching to a phone call instead of a video.
  7. Conduct mock interviews with team members beforehand to ensure you're prepared. This will help to ensure everyone is comfortable and familiar with the virtual interviewing process.

Employers should also consider providing resources or guidance on how candidates can best prepare for virtual interviews - this could include any or all of the steps above and also offer guidance on the topical content of the interview.

Hosting great interviews isn't hard once you have a system, but sometimes building the system feels overwhelming. If you're struggling to find a groove that nets top talent and works for you, book a demo of Pillar today. We'd love to show you how interview intelligence software can save time, shorten interview prep times, and deliver interview insights that lead to better hiring decisions. Happy Hiring!