You’ve made diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging your mission. Now what?
For many organizations, the next step may include bringing in a DEI expert to offer insights, implement strategy, and create accountability. Whether hiring a diversity manager, director, or a DEI consultant, you want to be confident the next steps you’re taking will result in tangible change.
That’s why we’ve outlined interview questions for diversity and inclusion managers, directors, and consultants. Ahead, we’ll talk about big picture categories and specific interview questions you can ask to set up your diversity initiatives for success from the get-go.
Interview questions for diversity and inclusion manager
As in all diversity leadership interviews, diversity and inclusion manager interview questions should touch on a few themes: commitment to diversity equity, inclusion, and belonging; performance and experience; and hypothetical, situational questions. Since managers tend to be more grounded in how policies and initiatives are playing out in the workplace, you’ll find that the following interview questions for diversity and inclusion managers reflect that. Think of these questions as starting points for your own diversity and inclusion manager interview questions.
What is your approach to understanding the perspectives of colleagues from different backgrounds?
This question helps reveal how and if the candidate engages in continuing education, whether they lead by example, and potentially serve as an opportunity for them to refer to past experiences where it was necessary to understand divergent perspectives. This is also a great point to include in your chief diversity officer interview questions or interview questions for diversity and inclusion directors.
Can you share an example of how you interpersonally embody DEI on a day-to-day basis in the workplace?
Use this question to assess how the prospective DEI manager’s framework for diversity looks like in practice. Follow-up questions include:
- If a colleague is interested in incorporating DEI principles into their work, where would you recommend they start?
- What are some examples of workplace policies that support an inclusive environment?
How would you advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion among teams or individuals who do not yet understand its value?
Diversity and inclusion managers have the influence and proximity to lead by example, build support, and educate colleagues through one-on-one conversations as well as via structured learning opportunities.
How would you handle a scenario in which someone said or did something racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise prejudiced?
This question can help you get a sense of the candidate’s leadership style and their approach to accountability and advocacy. Listen closely for how they propose remedying the situation for all parties involved in this hypothetical.
Chief diversity officer interview questions
While the questions we’ve outlined so far are geared toward diversity and inclusion manager interviews, that doesn’t mean they can’t be tailored and included in your chief diversity officer interview questions, or even in your interview questions for diversity and inclusion directors. Ahead, we’ll offer some questions that can help you in your search for a chief diversity officer or diversity and inclusion director.
If you were hired, how would you use this position to promote diversity?
Try to understand how this potential chief diversity officer or DEI director would use their standing to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Directors and C-suite members play an influential role in changing workplace cultures from the top down. Don’t be shy about asking for specifics on how they plan to do this.
What, in your view, are essential characteristics of diverse, inclusive workplaces?
This question can give you a better idea of the workplace culture the candidate would like to shape or implement at your organization. Listen in to see whether they offer specifics rather than just using general diversity buzzwords. A possible follow-up question: In your time getting to know us so far, which of these characteristics do you think may be lacking at our organization? And what are some ways you would try to change that?
Can you tell us about a time you challenged the status quo to advance DEI?
Use this question as an opportunity to gain insight into the candidate’s understanding of privilege, power, and effecting change. It’s important to have a DEI leader who feels comfortable, or is at least confident enough, to face challenges head-on.
Questions to ask DEI consultants
Hiring a DEI consultant can be a crucial next step for organizations without the resources to hire a full-time diversity expert. Plus, as DEI leaders external to the organization, diversity consultants have an unparalleled vantage point from which to point out issues. They may even feel more empowered to speak truth to power in ways that in-house folks feel they cannot.
But before you start prepping your questions to ask DEI consultants, it’s important to ensure your organization’s leadership is on board and you have some diversity goals outlined. This way, you’ll optimize your search and ultimately make the most of both the company’s and the interviewee’s time and resources.
Here are some general categories of questions to ask DEI consultants to get you started. Remember, the interview questions for diversity and inclusion managers and chief diversity officers can be easily adapted for consultants too.
Dig into their area of expertise
DEI consultants are not one-size-fits-all. Some consultants specialize in unconscious bias workshops or anti-racism work while others may undertake comprehensive DEI assessments or even marketing and communications work, per Minal Bopaiah, author of Equity: How to Design Organizations Where Everyone Thrives. As you narrow down your list of potential DEI consultant candidates, and even into the interview process, be sure to dig into their specialty areas to understand how they can work most effectively with your organization’s needs.
Understand their process
Ask the prospective DEI consultant about the methods and tools they use to evaluate organizations and craft their diversity strategy/recommendations. This can help you filter out candidates who talk the diversity talk but are lacking when it comes to results. So, what kind of answer are you looking for? According to Human Rights Careers, “a good consultant will do an extensive intake to find out where the company is and how well (or how badly) their current efforts are going.”
Examine their expertise, experience
Use the interview with the consultant as an opportunity to understand their values, gauge their approach, and vet their qualifications. As they answer your DEI consultant questions, listen in to how they articulate and live out their philosophy and look for ways in which research and continuing education informs their work. You’ll need someone on your team who embodies the values they wish to promote and someone who knows how to effectively impart those values and practices to others.
Integrate diversity at every level with AboveBoard
Working with a DEI consultant, manager, or director can be one of the most effective ways to advance diversity in the workplace—it shows initiative, creates accountability, and ensures your DEI initiatives will be rooted in best practices and the most up-to-date research. But it doesn’t stop there.
At AboveBoard, we believe long-lasting and impactful change starts at the top. That’s why we’re addressing the lack of diversity in executive leadership head-on through our innovative executive hiring platform. On AboveBoard, underrepresented groups of executives, including candidates who are Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and women, have direct access to C-suite and boardroom opportunities at today’s leading companies. For so long, these executive opportunities were relegated to people in the know or with the right connections, often leaving out marginalized groups of executives. AboveBoard exists to change the narrative, to bring the power of access and transparency to organizations who value diversity.