3 Benefits to Making Diversity a Priority in Interview Panels

February 18, 2020

Ashley Meyer

Ashley Meyer

When most people think about diversity in the workplace, they tend focus on who they’re hiring. Unfortunately, they don’t always think about providing opportunities to their team post-hire. While hiring is critical when it comes to diversity, if your efforts end there, you are doing a disservice to all involved.

Businesswoman interviewing for job in conference room

I propose considering diversity when developing your next interview panel as a way to provide your team with new opportunities, while creating a scenario that’s a win for all involved. (We have a whole certification course on this if you’re interested in learning more.)

As someone who has received feedback from panels, debriefed with a panel of interviewers, and created interview panels, I have come to understand the value that purposefully creating diversity here brings. Let’s dive into the benefits of making diversity a priority in interview panels and steps you can take to implement this in your workplace today.

Provide candidates with a better experience.

Most people don’t think the candidate benefits from diversity in interview panels, but they absolutely do.

I want you to think back to the last couple of panel interviews you experienced. This can be as an interviewer or as an interviewee. Do you remember those panels and what they were like? Well, I can remember the last few I did. One of the things that stick out was the lack of diversity.

I can remember looking across the label at four men who might as well have been brothers. What does this say about an organization? I think it sends a couple of messages. It sends the message that you need to be a person like this to advance within this company. It also says that it’s the opinion of these men that will determine whether or not you move forward.

Being interviewed by people who come to the table with a different set of experiences and worldviews gives candidates a better experience. They can gain a better snapshot of your organization and the opportunity because each interviewer will likely come from different perspectives, offering unique insight with each answer given and question asked.

It also sends the message that your organization is inclusive, which is an important value and cultural must-have for many when identifying their next career move. The bottom line is a diverse panel shows the candidate that your organization cares about providing equal opportunity to their employees, while giving them a well-rounded perspective prior to deciding if this truly is a superior opportunity for them.

Provide yourself with a more well rounded view of the candidate.

If your end conclusion of a panel interview is an echo-chamber brought on by a lack of diversity of opinion, you might as well skip the panel and have the hiring manager speak to candidates on their own. Instead, we should aim to get a variety of perspectives on each candidate – the best way to do that is to assemble some diversity of thought on your panel.

People tend to want to hire people who they like and who are similar to them. By lacking diversity in your interview panels, you make yourself more susceptible to the panel being impacted by their biases and hiring people just like them.

Even if the people on this panel happen to be rock stars employees, having a bunch of clones of the same “rock star” people isn’t as great as it may sound. If you have a team who has similar collective strengths, you are going to end up with a team that also shares the same weaknesses.

Thinking about that from a practical perspective, if I had a team of people just like me, we would be a hard-charging, competitive, take the hill type of group. However, we would all forget about the little details and eventually things would fall apart because nobody would be able to manage any responsible level of detail orientation.

Everyone has blind spots and if you hire people who are all just like you, you will magnify those blind spots. Having differences of opinions in an interview panel will afford you the perspectives to hire the best people because they truly are the best, not just because they are similar to you.

Provide growth to employees.

Championing diversity in your interview panels also provides a growth opportunity to your employees. Anytime I am involved in making an internal hire, I try to bring different people into the process as opposed to letting the same people interview potential new team members over and over again.

For me, the rational behind it is simple – I want to provide a growth opportunity to a variety of people on my team. Having diversity in your interview panels likely means that the same people are not always on the panel and different people get to experience interviewing, as well as have a say in the growth of your team and organization.

If you are currently in a position where you interview people, you might have forgotten what it feels like to be excluded from the group who decides how your company is going to grow. You may have also forgotten what it feels like to get to be included in one of these panels.

For people getting a chance to participate in interview panels for the first time, it’s a big deal. Not only does it provide variety from the day to day, but it also provides a foundation for future growth. As a developing professional who may one day hope to manage a team of his or her own, that early exposure to the hiring process is a great building block.

With that in mind, it is important to make sure that you are creating these building blocks in an inclusive manner. For me, anyone who is doing good work and is a contributing member of the team deserves an opportunity to grow in their career and experience different situations that will prepare them for advancement.

In conclusion

Bringing diversity to your interview panels isn’t only the right thing to do, it is immensely beneficial. Interview panel diversity helps you avoid hiring based on shared biases and helps you assess candidates in a more thorough manner. As an added benefit, the candidates interviewing for your company will end up with a more well-rounded view of the organization and have a better experience over-all, a true win for everyone.

Many organizations hope for a diverse workforce, but few have a clear understanding of the why, what, and how behind diversity initiatives. A diverse workforce doesn’t happen by accident! Sign up for our Recruiting for Diversity Certification today to learn all the secrets behind recruiting a diverse workforce. 


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