Interview Question: How would you create a welcoming environment for diverse populations?
I am coaching a former attorney, with extensive relevant experiences, who wants to secure an opportunity within a large university in the U.S.
Prior to providing my guidance on how to best answer this question, I want to say that this client drove eleven hours for a day filled with interviews by 45 unique stakeholders. Yes, 45 opinions! She will be interviewed by 15 interviewers at a time in a conference room.
As you can imagine, my client not only will have to know how to respond to the toughest interview questions but also she will have to know how to make an entrance, work the room, and remain upbeat throughout an eight-hour day.
As part of my signature interview preparation program, I researched all 45 professionals via LinkedIn. Not everyone had profiles. However, I ended up with 34 useful profiles. Now, our strategy here was to use names strategically. For example, I knew she would be interviewing with various experts including an officer, athletics veteran, online learning expert, and a student government representative.
In preparation, I wrote questions for my client to ask these members during the interview. I gave her targeted questions, advised that she direct answers to the expert, and then that she include the group in the conversation in an elegant manner (similarly to how a dinner hostess ensures that everyone feels welcomed).
That was the strategy. I also drafted 15 questions for my client to prepare for on her end. This question above is just one of them given the nature of her intended job.
Here is how you can think about this question in the future:
- What subtle differences go unnoticed yet can offend members of diverse populations?
- Is there a process in place for how your employer welcomes diverse members of the population? If not, then what risks would this put the organization in?
- Are there regulations that you must comply with?
- Which best practices have you picked up when it comes to helping folks feel welcomed and utilized?
Here is a sample response:
Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that the organizations with the lowest turnover rates amongst diverse populations are the ones that incorporate a consistent onboarding and off boarding process.
After learning in great detail from my network about your onboarding process, I can tell that you’ve gotten buy-in from different members of diverse populations. They told you what it would take for them to feel welcome within their first 30 days of employment. I know about that breakfast with an affinity group leader. I see the value of assigning senior executives as mentors. I know that introducing folks to your ombudsman is one of the most effective ways to prevent escalations down-the-line.
I’m not as familiar with your off boarding process however I imagine that you are in compliance with state and federal requirements as well as privacy standards.
On my end, I’d do an audit end-to-end from onboarding to off boarding and ensure that we have the systems in place to encourage conversations so that legal actions are avoided whenever possible. Does what I said align with your current system?
The key insight is that you ground your response in facts. Although, the opportunity that my client is pursuing is particular to the role of diversity and inclusion, this concept is found across an organization – from the executive team to entry-level employees.