Rethinking Interview Dynamics: Interview Practices that Foster Trust and Accessibility

In our organization, interviews represent much more than routine evaluation; they are opportunities for mutual understanding and genuine interaction. We strive to uphold our core values of humility, courage, trust, and community, ensuring that our intentions are clear and sincere throughout the interview process.
We understand that interviews can be overwhelming for candidates, and we are motivated to make this experience as welcoming as possible. 

Providing Clarity and Purpose: Letting Candidates Know What to Expect

Our approach commences with the provision of insights into the interview process. We believe that knowledge is not just power but also a tool to create a welcoming and supportive environment for candidates. By offering a window into the themes and competencies to be explored during the interview, we enable candidates to effectively and thoughtfully prepare. For example, we might say, “During the interview, we will delve into approximately seven behaviorally-based questions that encompass collaboration, problem-solving, communication, fundraising, and leadership.”

This preliminary information not only sets the stage but also encourages candidates to be deliberate in selecting the examples they wish to share. It prompts self-reflection on their past experiences and actions, ideally helping a candidate feel more comfortable expressing themselves. This method aligns with our value of humility, recognizing that everyone brings unique experiences to the table and providing candidates with the opportunity to showcase their abilities genuinely.

Accommodating Neurodiversity:

In our commitment to fostering an inclusive interview process, considerations for accessibility and accommodations are embedded in our interview process. With the candidate’s consent, we provide the exact interview questions, typically 15 minutes before the interview. This practice acknowledges and respects the diverse ways individuals process and interpret information. We understand that some candidates may best comprehend information through either auditory or visual means, and we aim to support these unique needs.

This approach ensures that candidates can effectively manage their time for each question and have the written questions at their disposal during the interview. We recognize that neurodiversity is a fundamental part of our society, and we are dedicated to meeting the distinctive requirements of all candidates to facilitate their success throughout the interview process.

The Limitations of Quick Recall:

Quick recall, while a valuable skill in its own right, has its limitations. It often prioritizes the speed of response over the depth of reflection. Our approach recognizes that interviews should not be a mere test of memory and rapid response. We understand that relying solely on quick recall may not be the best indicator of a candidate’s true competency in a given area.

“Quick recall can provide answers, but true wisdom comes from understanding the questions.”
— Rasheed Ogunlaru

Our approach focuses on enabling candidates to be intentional about their responses. By providing them with a window into the interview themes, we allow them to prepare thoughtfully, and select examples that genuinely demonstrate their abilities. This approach fosters a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate’s skills and experiences, going beyond the quick recall of facts or events.

The Essence of Trust:

We’ve been asked, “Doesn’t sharing the interview questions in advance potentially enable candidates to craft their responses, making it more challenging to discern any discrepancies in their background during the interview?”

While there is validity in this concern, our commitment to placing trust in our candidates guides this response. If an interview process relies solely on uncovering dishonesty, it is built on a foundation of fear. We view interviews as an opportunity for comfortable two-way communication conversation, where both the candidate and the organization can genuinely understand each other and align their goals.

If we ever suspect a candidate might be offering an insincere response, we don’t resort to deception. Instead, we delve deeper into the competency at hand, asking follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of the candidate’s individual contribution to the situation. Our primary objective is not to test or deceive candidates to uncover falsehoods. Our primary objective is to provide a platform for candidates to express themselves fully, openly sharing their breadth of experiences and skills during the interview process.

How you can adopt these approaches

In summary, our interview process is grounded in our organizational values. We equip candidates with information, respect their diverse modes of information processing, and prioritize trust and authenticity over fear. Additionally, we acknowledge that there’s always room for improvement, and we are continually seeking ways to enhance our process.

By doing so, we create a supportive environment where candidates can present their true selves during the interview. In this pursuit, we foster a shared understanding where organizations can genuinely get to know the unique individuals they are considering. This, we firmly believe, is the essence of a successful interview process, one in which inclusivity and diversity are not just recognized but celebrated and respected.

We’d love to know what practices you use to foster inclusive interviews. Comment below if you’re comfortable sharing!
Looking for more content on creating more accessible and inclusive workspaces? Check out our article on 10 ways to make your job descriptions more accessible.

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