Inclusive interviewing processes are essential aspects of search and selection. Below, please find strategies for inclusive interviewing. These strategies were developed by Dr. Kristen Moore, Associate Professor of Engineering Education at the University of Buffalo.
Planning an Inclusive First-Round Interview
First-round interviews are increasingly held online, which increases accessibility for many faculty candidates. When you schedule these interviews, however, you should solicit needs for technological accommodations. Here is some recommended language: "We realize that video conference calls present some barriers to access; if you need any accommodations to successfully engage with the committee via video, please do let us know. Otherwise, we'll plan to use both video and audio via WebEx."
Both language diversity and neurodiversity are assets to our university, and we can employ practices to honor these forms of diversity. Some candidates will need more time than others to consider and understand your questions, so building in additional time for interviews (within reason) can be helpful. Those who are speaking with you in a second (or third or fourth) language might be best supported by sharing the questions ahead of time or by receiving their questions both orally and in written forms. If you're in a web platform that allows it, consider whether copying and pasting written forms of the question would be useful.
Before an interview, send a candidate an invitation to share their pronouns and a pronunciation of their names. This allows the candidate to control their gender identity and name without having to correct members of the committee.
Planning an Inclusive Campus Visit
An inclusive campus visit considers how different people require different experiences to determine whether to take a job and that different bodies require different accommodations and experiences to be most successful. Unlike the short first-round interviews, campus visits are multiple-day events that attempt both to learn more about the candidate but also to allow the candidate to learn about Brandeis' culture and campus. Planning an inclusive visit takes a lot of time and dedicated thinking about the candidate as an individual and should be done from an intersectional framework.
Before you begin planning the candidate’s visit, extend them an opportunity to tell you what kinds of accommodations might be necessary for them to be successful. This language might be integrated into the invitation to campus.
"We want to ensure we plan your visit so as to set you up for success; this includes planning for any accommodations that might enable you to be successful and comfortable. Please let me or XXX know if you can anticipate particular needs on your visit, including frequent breaks, a location/time for nursing, particular dietary accommodations (e.g., more frequent opportunities to eat or hydrate) or additional time built in as you travel from meeting to meeting. I welcome the opportunity to talk about the day’s schedule with you directly before your visit is planned."
This acknowledges the need for accommodations across a range of contexts and invites the candidate, who is in a very vulnerable position, to share their needs with you directly.
Questions that might facilitate planning with the candidate
An early draft isn't always possible, but if you can share a draft with the candidate and invite their feedback on the pieces of the agenda that are flexible, this provides the candidate an opportunity to tailor the agenda to their needs. Simply saying, "Is this okay?" does not create sincere opportunities for inclusive interviewing; inviting specific feedback or offering opportunities for specific changes does.
This needs to happen with every candidate — not just those from marginalized and multiply-marginalized populations — for a number of reasons. First, marginalization isn't always obvious or outward-facing. Some racial minorities pass as white; some neural, psychological and physical diversities aren't immediately apparent. Second, inclusive interviewing is an important part of building a more inclusive campus. All members of a community can benefit from clarifying the campus, college and departmental approach to increasing diversity, creating a culture of inclusion and working towards equity.
Additionally, an inclusive interview provides candidates — all candidates — with a vision of the department in all its diversity, from racial and ethnic diversity to gender diversity to appointment diversity. Avoid the temptation to assume black candidates, for example, need all the "black stuff" you know about or that the campus can offer.
Before talks and throughout, offer breaks for thinking, reflecting and recovering from the stress of a campus visit. Remember, we're setting up candidates for success, and candidates with diverse abilities (both physical and psychological) require different considerations for success. Give all candidates the opportunity to take a deep breath before important meetings. Consider offering candidates a home station for their breaks where they can keep their bags, coats and other personal items. Candidates who require medication or breastfeeding/pumping technologies will particularly benefit from a central location for their items. If you can't provide a quiet, private and secure home base for candidates, ensure that candidates have access to a dedicated lactation room — be sure that members of the committee and other hosts know where these locations are to prevent hectic, last-minute problems or confusion.
Also, don't accompany candidates to the bathroom or sit with the candidates during their breaks unless the candidate explicitly asks. Candidates may need to take medication, adjust clothing or otherwise engage in behavior that they wouldn't feel comfortable doing in front of members of your search committee.
Candidates on the job market are often juggling multiple campus visits, and those who are not already gainfully employed may struggle to pay upfront for airfare, lodging and other campus-visit related expenses. Best practice is for the department to cover all costs; if that's not possible, make that clear as early as possible so that the candidate can make meaningful financial choices.
If candidates want to be touched or hugged, they'll let you know by asking for physical interaction. Otherwise, assume that touching the candidate (outside of a professional handshake) can function as an exclusionary or coercive practice. In interviews, as in all cases, consent matters. In an interview, members of the committee have much more power than the candidate, making coercion more likely. This means that even a request for a hug, for example, may force the candidate into a physical intimacy that's unwanted, complicating traditional contexts for consent.
This information can de-stress candidates with limited resources. Particularly for candidates who identify as women, the clothing expectations for interviews are both expensive and stressful to adhere to. Consider sharing what other attendees are likely to wear (jeans and a dress shirt; slacks and sweater; suit), but it's also helpful to simply say business casual or formal. By tipping the candidate about what to wear, you can create a more inclusive interview for many candidates, especially those from lower socio-economic groups, including graduate students and first generation college students.
Although tenure and promotion guidelines are often discussed, an inclusive interview also includes additional clarity about how merit is awarded (if it is), what kinds of medical benefits are provided to faculty and what kinds of leave are available. You might ask the candidate if they'd like to meet about benefits. International candidates may specifically need to know upfront whether or not the university will sponsor their visa. Take care not to assume that candidates who identify as women would want to hear about parental leave — or that candidates who identify as men would not want to.
Be sure the candidate has information about where to go and who to contact throughout their visits, including numbers of anyone picking them up or dropping them off from hotels and airports. If you've scheduled a cab or shuttle, be sure those numbers are there as well. Provide candidates with information about the campus and the city, perhaps in a welcome bag so that they can ask questions that arise with the information. Consider connecting candidates with trusted real estate agents or others who might be helpful in discussing housing options.
Additionally, be sure to accompany the candidate to and from meetings. This seems obvious, but assuming candidates can get from point A to point B without an escort can prove a challenge for many candidates.
Regardless of how well you've planned a visit, the people the candidate meets with are the primary vehicles for inclusion and equity. This list should be shared with faculty, but so too should faculty be asked to consider how the department is affected by implicit bias, micro-aggressions and oppressive systems. Especially in STEM fields, the majority of faculty remain white, male and/or upper middle class, so the discussion within faculty must begin long before interviews and extend beyond it.
- Moore, K. (2019). "Inclusive Interviewing." Dept. of Engineering, University of Buffalo.
- Ahmed, S. (2012). "On being included: Racism and diversity in institutional life." Duke University Press.
- Sensoy, O., & Diangelo, R. (Winter 2017) "We are all for diversity, but..." Harvard Educational Review.