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"How to ask about DEI Initiatives in an Interview" overlaid a white desk with mobile phone and cup of coffee

How to Ask About DEI Initiatives in an Interview

Once you’ve done some basic diversity and inclusion job search research, it’s time to prepare for the interview. As an interviewee, you should have an opportunity to ask the hiring manager questions—this is your chance to gain a better understanding of the company’s values, goals, and mission directly from the source. If you aren’t sure what to ask, here are some excellent examples:

First, What Does Diversity and Inclusion Mean to You?

Prior to your interview, narrow down what diversity and inclusion in the workplace mean to you. Everyone has a different understanding of an inclusive environment, so being clear on your expectations will help you decide which questions to ask. Here are a few examples:

  • A company that attracts, hires, and retains diverse talent based on an individual’s skills and competencies, not race, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, national origin, ethnicity, or religion.
  • A company that fosters and supports an inclusive team culture where valuing diversity is celebrated and rewarded, including decision-makers who value diverse perspectives and embrace inclusiveness of thought. This requires education, engagement, intention, and often funding, to support and advocate for diversity initiatives since policies need to be set in place to achieve certain diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • A company that is consciously working toward the vision of equalizing the playing field in their respective industry while mutually building and benefitting from an inclusive team.
  • A company that believes diversity and inclusion are crucial for creating a workplace that fosters a culture of leadership and healthy employee engagement.
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Questions to Ask Hiring Managers

Once you have determined what DEI means to you and how that should translate to a work environment, you can prepare questions for the hiring manager. Here are a few you can use as-is or as inspiration for you to craft your own:

  • Tell me more about the size and makeup of the team I’d be joining: how many women work here, and of those, how many are in leadership/managerial roles?
  • Tell me about someone who started here and was markedly successful in a short time — what attributes or competencies made that person successful?
    • Take close consideration if the actions you hear are things you’re not comfortable or interested in signing up for like excessive competition, disproportionate competition among team members, mandatory overtime, or on-call (weekend/shift work) schedules.
  • How are expectations set and measured for this position? What is one key indicator that you, as a manager, use to evaluate an employee’s measure of success? Can you tell me about someone who came in and failed to thrive right away? Where was the misalignment in that situation? How did members of the team and/or management try to coach that employee?
    • Make note of whether the answer clearly reflects transparency, clarity, collaboration, and adaptation.
  • I see diversity listed in your company’s values. Can you share some examples of how you promote it?
  • Does the company offer managers training on diversity, equity, and inclusion? What about the rest of the staff?
  • What initiatives are currently being utilized by management that directly impacts improving employee engagement and help build a culture where employees feel supported, heard, and seen.
  • Ask about Employee Benefits.
    • Example: maternity/family leave benefits that include all parents, including those of adopted children or same-sex couples—demonstrate the company is eager to offer support to all working parents.

Take note of the answers the hiring manager gives and how comfortable they are discussing DEI topics in greater depth.  Are you confident in the answers you heard and what they indicate? Once you’ve completed your research, concluded your interview process, and clarified the company’s mission through the interview process, you can decide if continuing to pursue employment with the company is the right thing for you.

Did your interview result in a job offer? Before you sign, here are a few tips to help you negotiate your salary like a pro.

Mary Lavin - VanderHouwen

Mary Lavin

Sr. Technical Recruiter