Answering Equality Diversity Questions Interview Firefighter

For both employers and job seekers, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are more important than ever. As the former head of people at two quickly growing startups and the cofounder of a nationally recognized workplace inclusion strategy firm, I’ve seen firsthand how questions of DEI are being centered in the hiring process for all roles. Employers want the competitive advantage provided by a team that reflects the diversity of their customers and brings a wide variety of viewpoints to the table. They also need candidates who will help rather than hinder their efforts to foster a welcoming and supportive environment—no matter what the job.

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.

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That means if you’re looking for a job these days, it’s no longer sufficient to only prepare for the traditional common interview questions and role-specific questions about your skills and background in digital marketing or customer service, for example. From my experience in the hiring world, I advise all job seekers (regardless of the role you’re applying for) to also expect interview questions about diversity and inclusion.

To help you succeed in the hiring process with an inclusive company, I’ve put together this list of DEI questions you may be asked along with advice on how to answer them and sample answers to help you as you craft your own.

What Is Your Approach to Understanding the Perspectives of Colleagues From Different Backgrounds?

Thriving in a diverse work environment is easier said than done. Research suggests that working on diverse teams produces stronger outcomes because the diversity of perspectives can actually make the process harder. It requires teamwork and a good deal of effort to create the type of connection and understanding across differences that will result in positive business outcomes. The goal of this type of question is to determine how active you will be in building a bridge of understanding between your colleagues and yourself.

Tell Me About a Time When You Advocated for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace.

Interviews almost always include a question or two designed to gauge how you’re likely to behave in practice based on what you’ve done in the past, and this one is specifically intended to assess your ability to translate your values and beliefs into action.

Can You Give Me an Example of How You Make Your Direct Reports Feel a Sense of Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity on a Daily Basis?

Inclusion is such an important value for all employees to embrace and champion, but perhaps especially for those in management and leadership roles who can set the tone for others. Employers want to know that you won’t be just a passive bystander, but will proactively help make the work environment a friendlier place where everyone feels encouraged to contribute and feels positive about their opportunities for growth, regardless of their background.

How to Answer

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 with 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.”

Diversity and Inclusion Interview Questions and Answers

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