Diversity in Hiring Processes

I’d like to get a discussion going about how people can design hiring processes to be diverse and inclusive. I’ve seen a lot of negativity recently about companies whose hiring processes by their very design exclude.

What have you seen that companies have done well to ensure that their hiring process is diverse?

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Here are some positive experiences as a minority tester:

  • There are companies who explicitly request minorities to apply.
  • For me the best interviews are with minority tech employees who are allowed to change the course of the interview.
  • I like when interviewers show interest based on my CV instead of how I look.
  • Interviewers show interest in my answers.
  • I have a chance to tell a really compelling story which saved my employers a lot of time and money,
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Hello yes, I started putting some notes together for a follow-up blog post on the non-binary stuffs, but I won’t be posting it any time soon because I have more research to do, but here’s what I have so far if it’s useful to anyone. Idk how much an information dump like this is actually useful in a forum discussion but ima do it anyway -makes priest sounds from AoEII-

Couple of practical notes about hiring for gender diversity, mostly re non-binary and trans humans but also general notes at the bottom

Preferred names and pronouns

If you want people to feel safe telling you that they have a preferred name (different to the legal one you will need for tax or whatever) and a pronoun preference then make it a normal part of your application/hiring/onboarding process. Don’t just assume that they will feel safe enough to reach out and tell you in a thread of emails or private message or phone call. By asking for this in your normal forms you send everyone, you make the person feel included and thus better able to bring their real selves - and if they feel safe in the application stage they are tots gunna be able to bring their best selves to the interview!

Application:

If you have an application form, make sure it’s clear that people can use their preferred name on the application if they have one. As a more experienced non-binary human, I would do this anyway but when I got my first tech job I used my legal name on my cv and application, and jeez did that come back to bite me. It just wasn’t clear that I could as a new human in tech/real-job-world, just put my preferred name in there. xD “What should we call you?” or something.

Interview:

When you send out the interview info (building address, time etc), it’s somewhat normalised now to tell the applicant that they should contact you if they need any special provisions to be made. You could add a similar bit to just say that they can contact you if they have particular name/pronouns etc they want you to use. tbh if I saw that I’d probably be like “heck yeah I love these people, I’m gunna work for this company forevers” before even starting the interview xD

IF SOMEONE GIVES YOU PREFERRED NAME/PRONOUNS, USE THEM. This might seem obvious, but when you have someone turn up called David (he/him preference) and they have traditionally feminine features/voice/etc, you’ve been told. You may find yourself wanting to default to she/her without noticing. That’s on you as an interviewer to make sure you can keep that human safe.


Note on neurodiversity and interviews:

Some people will super appreciate knowing what the interview will entail before beginning because they find it really difficult to prepare for interviews cos everyone asks different things and expect you to have stories for everything you can just pop out of the air under pressure like magic or smth. If you have a particular format you follow, eg “we will ask you about your experience with this thing, and then we will ask for examples of x and y and z.” you might as well tell them about it plenty ahead of time. Also in a multi-stage format where lots of interviews will be held, hopefully you’re already making it clear what applicants should expect from each (I have heard plenty of friends say “urggh I thought we were gunna be talking about the tech task but apparently that’s the next interview and so I wasn’t prepped at all for answering questions on this other thing”, so I know not everyone is doing this!)
However if you do give the information, be prepared to follow up on what you said you’d do, unless the interviewee takes you in a different direction. Can’t imagine what it’d be like for these peeps if they were to prepare for what you told them you’d ask and then you ask something different completely. I don’t know super lots about this topic, it’s something that has come out of conversations with two people who do find that useful tho.


Onboarding forms

I mean like HR forms, once you know the person will be hired. Idk what you call them.

Something my current workplace did, which I super appreciated, was have separate boxes for Legal Name and Preferred Name on their new start forms. Just like… in the normal forms, without having to ask or anything, so I’m not treated any differently to everyone else but the process is still inclusive you know? It was something along these lines:

Legal Name
(this is the name on your id, birth certificate etc, and will be used for the following purposes: tax/HMRC; whatever else. It will be visible in the following places: internal HR system, and no one will see it apart from those who need it to do their jobs)

First name
Middle name/s
Last name
Preferred Name
(this is the name you would like people to call you and know you as, and will be used for the following purposes: email address; account names on internal/external services. It will be visible in the following places: email info; slack; everywhere; just everywhere it possibly can be used)

First name
Middle name/s
Last name
^ note that it was super clear how both names would be used!

Also add a lil box for preferred pronouns.
If someone has no preferred name or pronoun, they don’t have to fill out those boxes! Ez pz no one loses

Other areas of consideration I only have bare notes on:

  • easy win is to add a statement to your standard job headers/footers (the bit about company culture or whatever that goes on all your job ads. You might not have one. If so, make it a new norm to add a lil thing on the end of every job ad for this I guess?) that states you’re super cool humans who love people from all walks of life. This takes very little effort, but so long as you follow up and actually love people from all walks of life, then it can make a small difference to people scrolling through job ads. If you put it in and then treat your people like poop then it will be quickly seen through with glassdoor reviews etc.

  • training. There are plenty of companies out there providing D&I training for HR or for whole companies. They’re not going to be perfect, and you shouldn’t just listen to them and then never try to improve again because the ‘experts’ told you this much was fine. But in terms of quickly making sure that everyone who interviews knows how to behave inclusively, and to increase awareness of biases, then popping them all on a three day training course is easier than expecting everyone to go and research how to be better individually and accidentally perpetuating their own unconscious biases during that research… I think there are great arguments against some of these courses too though.

  • consider ‘positive bias’. Idk what term to use but I’ve put that in quotes cos I don’t like that one. Go out of your way to look for the diversity you want in the company, instead of talking about how hard it is because no one from X minority applies. (also go watch Ash Coleman’s talk from TestBash Brighton 2019 if you wanna know why ‘positive bias’ is actually ‘bias correction’, and also learn so much in general)

  • consider redaction. If you are taking baby steps and getting a lot of resistance to ‘positive bias’, a half step helping to remove unconscious bias from the cv-checking-who-to-come-in-for-interviews step could be to redact certain types of info from applications. Eg name, gender, age, any dates of education (if they did their degree in 1980 then the Person Chooser will know the applicant is prolly in their 60s

  • hire juniors! Like omg just do it. Hire juniors, give them the experience you want them to have and stop saying silly things like “we want to have more X-minority people in the company but we’re hiring for Y specific skills and there aren’t many X-minority people in that area” GREAT NOW YOU ARE IN AN AMAZING POSITION TO HELP MORE X-MINORITY PEOPLE GET INTO THAT AREA WOOOO congrats applause applause. (but also there are usually plenty of people of that minority in that specialism/area, but you just don’t know where to find them)((I don’t know how to find people either, other than you know, having good wide network and links, going out and finding communities n stuff because you are part of the world))

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can you imagine if one day I wrote something in under 100 words

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No, and we wouldn’t want you to anyway. Your writing style is both brilliant and (as someone who never met you) so-very-you.

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You know more than you think you do, I think. Your advice here is spot-on.

I usually give advice on the other side… As someone who thinks a bit differently than most people are used to, how should you prepare for an interview? (short version: over-prepare. A lot)

If more people would know EXACTLY what to expect from an interview, it would save everyone a lot of stress.

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Greetings!

I want to acknowledge that as a white cis male, there may be experiences I have which are due to tacit privileges. The expression of my experiences in an interview process may contain a biased view.

I have changed jobs a few times within my company. There is an interview process executed for every job. While a CV is part of the information provided, there are usually clarifying questions about it rather than a focus on it. The primary set of questions explore dimensions of behavior in human interaction, introspection, working as a team, and others. I hadn’t considered how diverse the interview was until recently. I have considered the process fair because the company walks the talk (I have been there a while). In my experience, I have seen both outcomes: a successful job change and losing a new position to a better candidate.

If I may digress with an example. Recently, an internal Employee Resource Group sponsored their annual Diversity and Inclusion Week. I’m embarrassed to say that this was the first year I attended. I learned and appreciated more about the experiences of people with diverse backgrounds and identities. It certainly raised my awareness and helped me appreciate the recent blog post by @undevelopedbruce. That post would have made an excellent addition to our D & I week and I recommend reading it, and reflecting on it.

I realize have a lot to learn and appreciate a thread like this. I believe that in addition to the questions in the interview, we may also consider the people who participate in the process. I wonder how dimensions of identity and background may impact their interpretation and assessment of the information gathered during the interview. While the education and practice in my company, in my opinion, reduces bias, there may be, generally, opportunities for diversification.

Joe

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Here is another nice example.

I got an email for a job interview. It was an Outlook invitation. So I had the names of the interviewers and the recruiter. Also the date and time block were present.

The nicest part was about online interviewing:

  • images were shown how to use the communication tool step by step.
  • it was advised to install the proper software and do practice runs with family members or friends.
  • a headphone was advised for better concentration.
  • the camera should be placed atthe right angle. The laptop on the lap was not the proper place.
  • the background should be neutral and calm as possible.
  • my face should be visible, but the light should not blind me.
  • I should not be disturbed during the call.
  • my outfit should be fit for office. This would feel me different.
  • I should focus on the interviewer and not on the technology.
  • if the connection would be bad, I should mention it.
  • it was stressed, that an online interview is different from an in person interview.
  • I was encouraged to contact the recruiter in case of questions.
  • The company ensured that it would do everything to feel me at ease.
  • at the end the interviewers stated that they were looking forward to meet me online.
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Bruce,

A lot of what you’ve written - in particular about interviews but a lot of the other stuff about HR processes generally - segues seamlessly into what is just plain best practice for everyone. I know I read a lot of the interview section and thought “Yup, had that one. And that one. Oh, and there was that “assessment day” for a testing role that turned out to be for telesales and where I got weeded out of a group of about twenty people for ‘poor attitude’ when I was the only tester in the room…”

I’ve been looking a lot at accessibility, and the same applies; changes to improve accessibility for those with requirements make things better for everyone.

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Haha yeah I guess if everywhere used best practices, we’d all benefit. A lot of companies, esp startups that don’t have a dedicated HR or hiring person, don’t/can’t give people the time to learn those best practices until they mature. By which point they’ve already got bad habits/practices as the norm xD

One of the things I was really passionate about last year was diversity in startups. Cause people tend to hire their mates/brothers/cousins etc into the company when it’s young and then you end up with a very homogenous and tight-nit startup by the time you have 20-50 employees. Which is a really bad starting point to try and hire for diversity from, because inevitably the first lot of people you hire are going to feel really super out of place. Whereas if people start hiring for diversity when there are only 4-5 peeps in the company, by the time you get to 50 you’re probably already a safe and inclusive space because the early hires had influence over time. idk. No idea how to make that happen though. xD

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A thing that came up for a bunch of us recently is the boilerplate stuff on accommodations for interviews.

Like, most places (in the UK anyway, I assume other places have similar things), have something about being an equal opportunities employer and mention accommodations for disabilities.

But! Disabilities and Disability classification is a whole thing: my anxiety means that I would prefer some idea of what I can prep for and expect, as would a lot of other conditions! But they might not be classified as a disability, so do these people fall under those accommodations. Do they ask, reveal their condition, not get an accommodation and come out of the process feeling worse off? Do they struggle and not perform their best? There are a bunch of issues like that that might be putting people off. If you’re happy to make accommodations, say so and share some examples.

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It worth mentioning the one of “don’t over-ask in the job ad”. This will deter some people who feel they have to meet every requirement in order to apply: studies have shown that this tends to lead to more men that women applying, given same qualifications, but could equally deter anyone conditioned to have less self-confidence, regardless of gender.

I’ve been through a learning process on my current hiring and have had a huge number of applications: so have done a take-home tech test first due of the volume I have to deal with, but this may have deterred some otherwise good candidates unfortunately. I think the workload of the hiring manager can make a big difference to the time they have to spend being inclusive, and it does take effort. Its something I’m struggling with.

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On my timeline I found this quote:
“What can we do that will show you at your best?”
Wes Winham Winler

Just saw this new article.I think folks are right: some folks will get stressed by A, some by B, some by C, so the best plan is to have a variety of options. Whiteboard tests discriminatory

The world would end shortly afterwards.