More and more interviewers are including questions about diversity, equity, and inclusion; be prepared so that you appear thoughtful and informed.
You must be able to answer those questions now along with the traditional questions about “Why should I hire you?”
Consumers are also starting to hold companies accountable for insensitive statements and biased blunders. Companies want employees who will represent them well and demonstrate cultural competency. With those goals and concerns in mind, interviewers are starting to ask all candidates about their thoughts on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have much broader meanings than most people assume. Employers want to know that you not only grasp the true meaning of each term, but you also find merit in each of these concepts and share a commitment to fostering them in the workplace.
If you really want to score points with the interviewer, make sure you address how each term—diversity, equity, and inclusion—has its own distinct definition and importance to you. Acknowledge that diversity doesn’t just refer to race and gender, but also encompasses categories such as age, sexual orientation, religion, military service, people with disabilities, and other traits and experiences that are reflected in a company’s workforce.
Ultimately, you want to make it clear to your future employer that you not only have a clear understanding of what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean, but also that you’re a champion for those concepts. Beyond that, your relationship to DEI is just that: yours. So don’t be afraid to find your own language to talk about how and why it’s important to you.
Your answer might sound something like this:
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are three very important topics to me. I believe that diversity means representation across a wide range of traits, backgrounds, and experiences. When we can connect and engage with coworkers who have different perspectives than our own, we can more successfully achieve our overall goals.
Inclusion refers to a sense of belonging in any environment. For a company to really achieve the benefits of diversity, it has to work to be inclusive in recruiting, hiring, retention, and promotions. Employees in inclusive workplaces feel more comfortable sharing their unique ideas and perspectives because they can sense that their differences are genuinely respected and appreciated.
Finally, equity is important for making sure that every employee’s voice is included in the decision-making process, that everyone feels fairly compensated for their work, and that everyone has access to the same opportunities. It’s very important to me that everyone I work with feels safe, accepted, and valued and has an equal opportunity to grow and succeed. Together, the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion help create a workplace culture that drives the business forward.”
In Your Opinion, What Is the Most Challenging Aspect of Working in a Diverse Environment?
When a hiring manager asks this question, they’re looking for an answer that lets them know you’re aware of the challenges that can arise in diverse environments, but that you’re capable of appropriately addressing those challenges. While you can bring up a relevant experience if you have one, be aware that your interviewer is not opening the floor for you to VENT.
One Way to Answer
This question can trip candidates up. You certainly don’t want to stick your foot in your mouth or ramble about a time you struggled to connect with a colleague of a different gender or religion. When you’re coming up with an answer to this question, go beyond just answering it at face value. You’ll want to dig deeper to show that you not only recognize some of the challenges, but that you also have thought through ways to overcome the challenges. Most importantly, keep your answer positive.
That might sound like:
“Diverse teams drive innovative solutions precisely because they can be challenging. By bringing diverse perspectives to the table, you get more ideas, but also more people pointing out holes in ideas. The debate that can come with differing perspectives pushes everyone to think and work harder. That is one of the most challenging aspects of working in a diverse environment, but one I embrace. For example, if I notice that we’ve gotten to a solution fairly easily but that we haven’t heard from someone on the team, I’ll ask that person to weigh in on the solution. I’ve found that on many occasions, inviting someone into the conversation might mean we’re debating an issue longer, but it also means that we end up with a stronger solution.”
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion should be on the top of your list when selecting a new company to work with.
Please share with me in a comment below how you would advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with colleagues who don’t understand its importance.