6 Steps to Hiring More Diverse Candidates

By: Hannah Hafferkamp


A diverse team is a strong one. Compared to their less-diverse counterparts, highly diverse companies have 19% more revenue, are 70% more likely to capture new markets, and are 1.7 times more likely to lead innovation in their own markets.

Building a diverse team isn’t for the faint of heart, however. Leaders must be open to perspectives that differ from their own—and beyond that, they need to know that diversity of thought will challenge the status quo within their organization and may require them to make changes to the way things work.

To maintain a workforce with diverse life experiences and beneficial differences, they also need to be willing to prioritize inclusion and the health and well-being of employees, giving people the space they need to care for themselves and their families.

Change is scary in almost every context. But most leaders will be the first to admit that the status quo isn’t perfect. Opening the door to diversity of thought invites the best kind of disruption — systemic changes that streamline processes, make employees happier and help products reach more customers.

Hiring Diverse Candidates: Physical Diversity and Diversity of Thought

“Diversity of thought” is an emerging buzzphrase among recruiters and human resources professionals. Some, unfortunately, are using “diversity of thought” as an excuse to relax goals of hiring a more physically diverse workforce, talking about “cognitive diversity” instead. In reality, though, diversity of thought and physical diversity go hand-in-hand.

Think about it: Of course the experiences people have lived shape the way they think and their work habits. A well-off Caucasian man does not have the same experience as middle-class women of color. A 24-year-old does not have the same lived experience as a 40-year-old one. And an Ivy League graduate does not have the same experience as someone who studied at a community college and transferred to a state school.

When leaders choose physical diversity—what we traditionally define as “diversity,”—they are inherently choosing thought diversity, and vice versa.

Six Steps to Hiring More Diverse Candidates

1. Open up the talent pool

Think deeply about what you’re looking for in candidates for a new role. Someone whose educational background differs from the rest of your team could bring critical questions about why they do things the way they do, leading to changes in your workflow that you might’ve been blind to.

Someone who has lived the experience that your brand is promoting or solving for its clients could help you market your product more effectively, with more targeted and relevant messaging than ever before.

To recruit these new candidates, focus on organizations and universities that have highly diverse populations who approach problems from different perspectives.

2. Expand your and your recruiters’ perspectives

Try to rid yourself of bias first. What are your life experiences and how have they shaped the way you think? What is your truth, and how does it compare to others’? Do you feel aversion to viewpoints and experiences that don’t align with yours? Explore that discomfort so that you can understand it and overcome it.

Once your leaders and recruiters have reckoned with their own biases, they’ll be able to think more broadly about “the right fit.” Often “culture fit” is a code word for “similar to the people who already work here.” Is this person really the right candidate, or are they just similar to you and your peers? Fight that instinct—both in one-on-one interviews and as you seek to build a more inclusive culture for all of your employees.

3. Attract diversity

Advertise jobs through diverse channels and use media beyond standard job postings, including videos and social media. Highlight your company’s commitment to diversity of thought and experience on your website and in job descriptions. And when you ask people to refer candidates to open positions, ask them to incorporate diversity as a value too.

4. Include more than just the interviewers’ opinion in the hiring process

Diversifying your hiring team and process will help diversify your hires. Try conducting interviews as a panel—and make sure the panel itself is a diverse group—then weigh everyone’s input fairly and equally.

Consistent assessment tools and tests try to measure ability with as little bias as possible. Many companies ask candidates to complete case studies explaining how they would tackle a given problem. Tech companies famously ask programmers to complete challenges as part of the interview process.

Titus Talent’s Predictive Index can accurately predict learning style and behavioral tendencies, which illustrate how well a candidate will fit into a new role and rise to the challenges presented to them, in as little as 20 minutes.

5. Ask the right questions

Go into each interview knowing what you hope this person, if hired, will achieve. Then use that vision to guide your questions about their professional experience, motivations, mindset, and core values. By focusing on your desired end result and not your desired resume, you’ll be more likely to ask questions that uncover the underlying person holistically—and get beyond the resume to true diversity of thought.

6. Continue expanding your own network

Don’t just stick to the people who are right in front of you. Join new LinkedIn groups. Attend professional events that you haven’t been to before. Ask those in your network how they’ve expanded their talent pools and who might be able to help you achieve your goals.

Finally, work with a recruiting firm that has the same values with regard to workplace diversity and an inclusive environment. At Titus Talent, we preach hiring for the head, the heart, and the briefcase. We find candidates who not only have competitive resumes, but who bring a wide variety of experiences and insights to the teams they join. Our Predictive Index and other behavior assessments add a scientific dimension to these insights, offering a hiring process that is truly performance-based.

Let’s talk about how we can help you develop a more diverse team.

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