Designing an Inclusive Interview Process

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Prior to the Interview Day

  • Ensure that the search committee and the group of people participating in the interview process reflect the diversity of the library’s staff.
  • Provide training for the search committee and anyone else participating in the interview process about recognizing and counteracting implicit bias. This is vital to ensure that all candidates are given a fair interview and equitable consideration. *This should go beyond, but also include training on what questions cannot be asked, such as questions about marital status, religion, disability, and other similar topics. Many people may assume that they are knowledgeable about these issues and are not biased, particularly if they have gone through some other type of training on recruitment procedures, but it is important to move past any initial defensive reaction to ensure that everyone has truly examined their biases and done the work to move beyond them.
  • Don’t ask “trick” questions, which do a poor job of evaluating future work performance and can be biased against candidates with less experience and training on interviewing.
  • Develop a set of interview questions that will be asked of all candidates and share them with the candidates in advance of the interview. This offers a more inclusive experience for those with certain types of disabilities and those who work better in situations where they have time to consider their response to questions and hypotheticals. Developing a standard list of questions also helps to avoid bias in the interview questions themselves.
  • Determine the appropriate structure for the interview. Is a presentation really needed? What size groups should the candidates meet with? Who will be included in the interview process? Will people from all levels of the institution be included?
  • If a presentation is required, ensure that all candidates receive the assignment the same number of days in advance of the interview.
  • Share an agenda and a list of people who will be participating in the interview with the candidates in advance of the interview date so that the candidates can prepare. This levels the playing field for internal and external candidates and can be helpful for individuals with certain types of disabilities.
  • When sharing a list of who will be participating in the interview, include the individuals’ pronouns, particularly if this is a standard practice for other purposes at your institution. This will signal to candidates that you are open to and will respect their pronouns.
  • Ask the candidates for any specific needs, such as disability accommodations or allergies and other food requirements if a meal is included in the interview.
  • If you include a question about pronouns in any of your pre-interview application or forms, ensure that this is optional.
  • Ensure that any demographic forms either do not have a question regarding gender or include options beyond male and female.
  • Offer a clear way for candidates to ask questions or submit other requests for accommodation.

On the Interview Day

  • Ensure that the space for the interview is accessible, distraction free, and, if possible, set up flexibly, for example offering a variety of seating options.
  • If a presentation is part of the interview, have tech support on hand and have microphones available for both the speaker and those asking questions after the presentation.
  • Offer periodic breaks during the day, not just for restroom use but also to simply recharge alone in a quiet space.
  • Have a plan to intervene if anyone asks an inappropriate question or makes an inappropriate comment. Groups are often unwilling to consider this possibility, but it can happen and it is important that the candidate is not expected to handle the situation alone simply because no one feels comfortable intervening.

After the Interview Day

  • Don’t call references until you are relatively sure that the candidate may be hired and offer an option to speak to references who are not from their current employer. An offer can be made contingent on receiving a positive reference from the candidate’s current supervisor or another current coworker, which ensures the ability to speak to someone from a person’s current employer without jeopardizing their current employment.
  • Provide a clear way for the candidate to ask follow up questions.
  • If not already done, offer a timeline for finding out whether the candidate has been selected for the position.
  • Contact all other applicants after a candidate is selected to let them know their application was not successful.
  • Provide information about the benefits and expectations in writing when making an offer.
  • Offer a reasonable amount of time to make a decision about accepting any offer that is made.
  • Consider offering the option to get in touch with other recent hires or others members of the library team when making an offer; the candidate may have questions that they would like to ask but don’t feel comfortable asking the person making the offer.