Companies that value diversity demonstrate their values, company culture, and their initiative to include employees at all levels. This commitment not only inspires innovation within the company itself, but can also help job seekers to understand how they fit into the company’s culture. But how would a candidate communicate their appreciation for diversity and inclusion through the application process?
Communicating an appreciation for diversity in an interview can be a challenge. This goal goes beyond interview basics like framing the question, using STAR method, or practicing your response to the infamous “Tell me about yourself” question. We want students to be confident and best prepared to not only respond to these questions but also to be excited about asking companies about their diversity and inclusivity efforts. To do this, you will need to reflect on all of your experiences. Yep; even the miserable, time consuming, yet quite fulfilling group project you did the second semester of your first year. Take some time (a minimum two days) to review your resume, the opportunity description(s), and the company website to think about instances in which you have worked with people of different backgrounds and what you learned. This is absolutely important to consider as your experiences should ultimately be reflective of and fit with the mission/ goals of the organizations as well as the job itself.
Note: This is will take some time. So, if you’re a procrastinator, you may want to be strategic and block time on your calendar to do this!
Here are some really great ways that you can talk about diversity in your next job interview.
Diversity is about more than race.
While racial diversity is incredibly imperative to consider, there are many other factors to consider. Diversity by definition, means variety. There are many things to consider such as age and generational differences, gender and identity, diversity regarding abilities, social status, etc., This is really important as you can add more value to your response to an interview question regarding diversity, and demonstrate your broad understanding of diversity in the workplace.
Be prepared to answer questions about diversity.
An interviewer might ask: “We’re a company that truly values diversity – you’ll have a chance to work with a range of individuals here. What are your thoughts on diversity and why it’s important to you?”
Framing is important for this question. It can sometimes be challenging to organize your thoughts to communicate the proper response to a type of question. However, just relax and think about STAR. Yes, the STAR Method. To learn more about the STAR Method, check out this article.
You could use this technique to respond with a story about a time when you worked on a team with people from diverse backgrounds. You could talk about your experiences studying or traveling abroad, how many languages you speak (or have studied) and who assisted you in your quest for language acquisition. Show examples of lessons you have learned from others. Prior to the interview, try to think of examples of times when you learned something surprising about diversity or a diverse population (did you know that people with disabilities are some of the most likely Americans to be unemployed?), not just things you have taught to others. Communicate that you can collaborate or have collaborated with people from all kinds of backgrounds, whether those backgrounds are the same as yours or not. Remember, the goal here is to help the interviewer understand that you have real experience working with people from backgrounds other than your own.
Focus on aspects of diversity that relate to the workplace / benefits to the employer.
If you are fluent in a language other than your primary one, mention that this could help you to empathize and communicate with multilingual customers. If you’ve lived in another country (i.e., study abroad, flagship program, Peace Corps) talk about how you have a special appreciation for developing relationships with people who come to America from other countries, as you have gone through the similar challenge of adapting to a new culture. This not only makes your experience unique but it also adds value to workspaces. Remember, you will want to always tie this back to the job description.
Talking about diversity can be tricky when you aren’t as familiar with all that it encompasses. You don’t want to talk about diversity or cultural understanding in a way that brings up stereotypes or your own emotional baggage. Check out this article on how to address cultural differences without using stereotypes.
Correctly address / introduce the topics of diversity
During an interview, you could mention that you have a lot of experience collaborating with people from cultures other than your own, that you are open to hearing other viewpoints, or that you have a knack for bringing together a variety of perspectives on a team and helping people to find consensus around the best ways to move forward.
Another way to show that you value diversity in an interview is simple – ask questions around the topic. In the last portion of MOST interviews, the employer(s) usually ask the interviewer if they have any question. Here’s your “time to shine”!
For example, you could ask:
“Do you have an office of diversity, affinity groups, or diversity management roles within the organization?”
“Who holds my “leadership team” or “management” accountable to diversity and inclusion measures?”
“Does this company have any other diversity programs or initiatives in place?”
By asking employers about diversity you’re communicating how important these topics are as they relate to the work you’ve done and are looking to do in the future. These questions should be inspired by your thoughts and concerns of the company culture. To see a more exhaustive list of questions and how to formulate your concerns into questions, schedule an appointment with your career consultant via Handshake or by phone at (706) 542-3375.