As a hiring manager, are you curious about how you can help with your company’s diversity hiring efforts? If so, keep reading.  

As Diverse Recruiting Expert’s Founder and Managing Director, I’ll be sharing key diversity hiring insights I’ve gained from over two decades of sourcing diverse talent.  

1. As a hiring manager you must understand and address bias 

Understand, be aware of the bias that might exist on your recruiting team.   

Because if you get a bunch of diverse candidates in and your interview team has never interviewed diverse candidates, or they do it infrequently, there are biases in the process.

We all have our bias, right?   

So, get your interview team into implicit bias training, making sure that they can recognize their bias and they’re aware of it. Then they can be aware of it when they’re interviewing the candidate; e.g. paying attention to things such as cadence of conversation, communication, word choice, accents, all those things.   

This will help as they screen the candidates because they won’t unintentionally lead prospective candidates to self-opt out of the position.  

Make sure that your hiring interviewers understand the idea that “look, we’re hiring for our values, not necessarily just culture.” And you might call it culture, but make sure you’re looking at the competencies and the values that your company thinks are important.   

Because if you’re just hiring for “culture”, you’ll keep the culture exactly like it is.   

In other words, if your culture is built on a homogeneous group of people, no one’s going to be what they call a culture “fit.”   

In fact, I try to take that word out of my language. You want new hires to be additive to the culture and not have to fit a square peg in a round hole. So, make sure you include this concept when addressing bias.  

2.  Interviewer capability and diversity 

Another thing that I suggest is centered around interviewer capability.   

You want to make sure that your interviewers have had the opportunity to be trained and understand what a good interview looks like.   

Because everybody thinks they know what a good interview looks like. But that’s not necessarily the case.   

A lot of times, people will have that “favorite question” that they always ask that may or may not be relevant to the job. It’s just that they want to ask the question because it’s a kind of a “stump the chump” mindset.   

But you want to make sure you’ve got good interviewer capability.   

So that means ensuring that your interviewers have solid interview experience. They’ve gone through training and they’ve had an opportunity to do mock interviews or practice.   

They’ve received feedback on their interview techniques and what they’re doing in the interview and coaching.   

One way to do that is to record them, role play, and give them a chance to see themselves in the interview and practice. You want them to go into that interview knowing “here’s what my role is in this process and what information I’m trying to get from this candidate.”   

So, you want to provide tips for interviewers like the do’s and don’ts for both legal and stylistic things.   

Things like:  

  • Make sure you’re probing the candidates
  • Make sure you prep for the interview and read the candidate’s resume
  • Read the job description thoroughly and know what you’re looking for  

Make sure that your interviewer has a good sense of the role. And if you’ve answered questions on what’s important to get the job and the work done in that role, your interviewer will understand what’s needed, at least to a level that they can interview effectively.  

Define the behaviors and the attributes that you’re looking for and that will make a candidate successful in the company.   

This will help your interviewers key in on the fact that while the person they’re interviewing might not have the exact experience that the company is looking for, they may have transferable skills and they may have the more important attributes.  

Make sure if you can, have diversity be part of the interview. For example, if you’ve got all males interviewing women candidates, and you have the availability of a woman who could be on that interview, try to get that person into the interview.  

Not only does it showcase your effort to be diverse, but your candidate may establish a connection with that person, because they’re similar.  

Have more transparency in some of the questions that your interviewer is going to be asking. Be patient with the candidates, because sometimes you ask a candidate a question, and they answer the question, but they don’t give you the answer that you’re looking for.  

A good interviewer should be able to probe and stick with that candidate versus writing them off right away because they missed the answer. Find different ways to ask those questions.   

As an interviewer, ask yourself, is the behavior history of the candidate what they need to be successful? If so, take a closer look.    

3.  Relationships and community 

Focus on building relationships and engage with diverse communities. In other words, be intentional about your diversity and inclusion efforts.  

You want to make sure that people can go out and they’re comfortable talking to your existing diverse employees. They should understand what brought this person to the company and what motivates them to stay.  

Their manager may have people on their team that they’ve not spent any time asking, “Hey, what got you to the company? What’s keeping you in the company? What kind of things do you think the company needs to do?”   

Just be able to build some relationships with those internal employees.  

And then ask those employees for referrals, right? People know people that are like them, so you know, where’d they go to school?   

Who do they know that they worked with in the past who was on one of their sports teams or in one of their clubs or in a sorority or fraternity that they believe might be a good match for the company?   

Some companies have employee resource groups (ERGs) (a/k/a business network groups or affinity groups). If your company has one or more of these groups, engage with them…attend their meetings, get to know that population.   

This goes back to getting to know those diverse people who are already in your company.  

As a hiring manager, you may be in a unique position to be able to control the budget; if you are in that position, make sure that you’re allocating the resources and the budget to support the company’s diversity efforts.  

If the recruiting team comes to you and says, “hey, we’ve got this thing…can you provide people or money to help?” – be open to this kind of request and include resources for these kinds of requests in your budget.  

Look for organizations and events that you want to participate in that the recruiting team may not know about. Or ask recruiters to help you find organizations you can be involved in.   

Hold an open house for your division and invite people in to come and learn more about the company.   

Smart diversity recruiting is about a relationship; you want to get to know the organization you’re reaching out to. Invite their members into your company event…without the pressure of hiring for either side – you’re just building a relationship with the company.  

Then, get good at meeting people who aren’t like you.  

It’s natural to kind of migrate to the people who are like you. It’s much more uncomfortable to get around a group of people who aren’t like you, and so get better at introducing yourself, getting to know people and building a little bit of that relationship.  

Then, if you do find an organization that you like; such as a meetup group, right in your city; you may have found a meetup group that has diverse talent in it, and you just want to become the champion for that organization and its members.  

Or, you’re at a school, you go to a school event, become a champion and contribute in any small way that you can. This will require some partnership and collaboration with the recruiting team, but at the end of the day, you get the direction and you go do it.  

Here’s the thing…everybody talks about building relationships as part of the recruiting process. But unless you come at it with the idea that “I want to know people before I ever know about an opportunity,” you’ll always be working harder than you have to.  

4.  Championing candidates   

Finally, make sure that you’re championing candidates…all of them.  

Ideally, if you’re bringing in a diverse slate of candidates, you want to have somebody advocate for each of them. You want to make sure that:  

  • you’re assessing the right things  
  • a candidate isn’t getting caught up in some subjectivity that sometimes exists in the hiring process due to bias  

For instance, speed of communication that might be a big deal, or a southern drawl or some other kind of crazy thing that people just don’t connect with the candidate on, so they don’t hire the candidate.  

You want someone to be able to advocate for hiring on potential; “hey, this person did these things, they could do this next thing.”   

In short, find a way to learn more about the candidate that will allow you to say, “hey, we’re going to take a chance with this candidate because of “X”.  

Bottom line, as a hiring manager, you’ve got more influence than you might realize. Your input can significantly improve outcomes for your company’s diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as improve the life of the candidate(s) you’re engaging with.