By Sandra Innes


As most companies struggle to hire as they rebuild from the Covid-19 pandemic, many are looking for ways to widen their talent pools and tap into diverse talent. One tactic that has significantly enhanced diversity in hiring is using diverse interview panels – selecting interviewers with varying backgrounds and perspectives based on aspects like race, gender, ability and experience.

It's easy to unconsciously hire in your own image and have confirmation bias toward people who have similar experiences to your own. A more diverse interview panel brings differing opinions and leads to more equity in the hiring process. Plus, it can often lead to higher quality candidates than those sourced informally or through existing networks.

Diverse panels also lead to a better experience for the candidate. Organisations that leverage diverse panels see more women and more candidates of colour move through to the later stages of the hiring process. Candidates from under-represented groups often feel more comfortable in front of a panel in which they are represented and therefore perform better during interviews.

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The interview process these days is just as much about candidates sizing up your organisation as it is about you assessing them. In general, candidates like to see "people like me" when considering whether to join an organisation as it signals that they can also be successful.

This doesn’t only matter to candidates from under-represented groups. Studies show a majority of candidates, regardless of background, consider diversity and inclusion as key in their decision to accept a job offer. Diversity in the interview panel shows candidates that your initiatives aren't just lip service, and that you value the opinion of staff of all backgrounds.

It’s not enough to just include diverse panellists. It’s important to structure your panels and the interview process in the right way to glean the benefits. You want to avoid any perception that diverse panellists are included out of tokenism, so interviewers should be chosen based on their experience and unique perspective.

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Interviewers should also be trained, with everyone understanding how their feedback will be used when evaluating candidates. This helps avoid diverse panellists feeling as if they need to conform to existing conventions, making them comfortable challenging other panel members to keep checks and balances in place.

If you don’t currently leverage diverse interviewing panels, conduct a benchmarking exercise assessing the diversity measurements amongst candidates you extend offers to and those who accept. Make the required changes to the interview and assessment panels and compare the difference.

Sandra Innes, client relationship director TMPW UK, is a guest writer on behalf of s1jobs.