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creating an inclusive interview process: tips and best practices

Annie Snyman
Partner and Product Marketing Assistant

Elevate your company's diversity by adopting inclusive interview processes. Learn strategies and tips to create a welcoming experience, exciting diverse candidates about a potential future with your organisation and helping to attract more diverse applicants. Boost your employer brand to be known as an inclusive employer.


When it comes to attracting a diverse talent pool for your company, using an interview process that's all-embracing is a must-have. Inclusivity in interviews help level the playing field and make diverse applicants excited to have a potential future with you. In this blog, we're sharing strategies and savvy tips that will mould your interview journey into an inclusive and welcoming experience for all candidates.

Understanding unconscious bias

By now, you are probably tired of hearing about unconscious bias. Sadly, the sneaky thing is bound to appear when our brain is on autopilot, making snap judgments about people based on things like their race, gender, and age. These biases can seep into the interview process, leading to unfair treatment of candidates. To avoid this, you should recognise and minimise unconscious biases intentionally.  

Structuring interviews to promote inclusivity

The structure of an interview plays a big role in making sure candidates are treated fairly. Structured interviews use the same set of questions for all candidates, reduces the potential for bias in question selection. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shares that structured interviews result in higher predictability of job performance. You can make your interviews more structured by:

  • Asking structured interview questions that focus on skills and competencies, rather than experience and qualifications.
  • Using a rating scale to objectively scan candidates' responses.
  • Ask additional follow up questions where needed. Remember, you are not assessing the candidates ability to interview. You are assessing their ability to do the job, so follow up questions that draw out more information from them will help you to gather the evidence you need to make the right post-interview decisions.  

Training interviewers to recognise their own biais and how to seek to minimise

It’s not just about the candidates - when it comes to creating an inclusive interview experience, arming interviewers with the right tools and knowledge is the foundation. Training makes them ready to tackle biases, discrimination and uphold the legal bar. Here's how:

  • Encourage interviewers to slow down and really look for the evidence in what the candidate is saying. Using a technique like "active listening" can really help.  

  • Stay sharp. Interviewers should avoid back-to-back interviews or doing interviews at the end of a very long day. A tired brain is a brain prone to UB.  

  • Build a culture where interviewers can question each other’s decisions and scoring. This also helps to get people to reflect on their decisions and ensure that they are evidence backed.

Creating a welcoming environment

A welcoming environment sets the tone for a positive interview experience. Just as first impressions matter to candidates, their impressions of your organisation count as well. Here are some ways you can create a welcoming space for an on-site interview:

  • Extend a heartfelt welcome greeting as soon as they enter the building.
  • Treat them to a touch of hospitality, offering refreshments to make candidates feel comfortable.
  • Provide a brief tour of the office or facility – this is like a backstage pass to see your organisation's culture.
  • Remember, when you're being friendly, try to avoid asking questions that might make you think about the person in a certain way without realizing it. For example, if you're waiting for the kettle to boil, instead of asking a candidate about their weekend plans, which could make you form opinions about them without even knowing it, stick to safe topics like asking how their journey to the office was when they came to meet you. This way, you keep the conversation unbiased and fair.

    Providing reasonable adjustments

    Inclusivity also means considering candidates with disabilities or special needs – it’s not only important that your interview process is accessible to everyone, but also a legal requirement.  

    To provide adjustments:

    • Ask about any accommodation needs during the scheduling process.  
    • If the interview is not online, choose interview locations that are accessible and consider candidates' preferences.
    • Be open to adjusting the interview format to accommodate different needs, such as remote interviews or sign language interpreters.

    See how you can track requests for reasonable adjustments quickly in hireful ATS to flag those applications that are requesting adjustments. You will find these available on all plans as we don’t believe in charging more for inclusivity.  

    Avoiding illegal interview questions

    Some interview questions, like questions about personal qualities that don’t have much to do with the job, are a big no-no. Do your research to avoid ethical landmines that may lead to discrimination claims. Don’t worry – here are some helpful tips:

    • Learn what illegal interview questions look like in your jurisdiction.
    • Focus on job-related questions that cover qualifications, skills, and experience.
    • If inappropriate questions do arise, gracefully steer the conversation back to relevant topics.

    Focusing on Qualifications and Skills

    Let's dive into the meat and potatoes of interviews – assessing a candidates’ qualifications and skills. Focusing on competencies leads to being more objective when making hiring decisions. To prioritise qualifications and skills:

    • Prepare questions that directly relate to the job requirements.
    • Use behavioural-based interviewing techniques to uncover past experiences and actions.
    • Ask candidates to spill the beans by giving specific examples of how they've practiced the skills needed for the role.

    Using behavioural-based interviewing

    Behavioural-based interviewing means asking candidates to share examples from their past experiences. This tells you more about how they will work in your company. To use behavioural-based interviewing:

    • Create questions that encourage candidates to describe real-life situations.
    • Ask for details – you want to know what actions they took and the outcomes achieved.
    • Use these examples to assess their alignment with the role's responsibilities.

    Promoting diversity and inclusion

    Diversity and inclusion should be weaved into every part of your organisation, including the interview process. Research by McKinsey & Company confirms that diverse teams are more innovative and financially successful. To promote diversity and inclusion in interviews:

    • Form diverse interview panels that include a mix of backgrounds and perspectives.
    • Look for candidates from underrepresented groups by exploring new recruitment channels.
    • Create an environment where candidates feel their unique contributions are valued.


    An interview process that sings inclusivity is the bedrock of a vibrant, balanced workforce. By uncovering unconscious bias, structuring interviews thoughtfully, creating welcoming environments, avoiding illegal questions, focusing on qualifications and skills, using behavioural-based techniques, promoting diversity and inclusion, and training interviewers, organisations can take large steps toward building a more inclusive hiring process. It's time to take action and implement these strategies to ensure that your organisation embraces the power of diversity and selects the best candidates based on their talents and potential.  

    Published 9th December 2023

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