How to bring inclusion to the forefront of your interview approach

This section focuses on standard interviewing. Where there are elements to the selection process in addition to interview, consider the purpose, weighting and assessment criteria for each element. Where the wider staff community is involved in specific elements, such as candidate presentations, be clear about if and how you will use feedback.  Prepare your staff to be objective, to assess against clear criteria, and to challenge their own and each other’s biases.

  • Think about how you can create an interview which is inclusive and supportive of people’s different needs. All applicants invited to interview should be given details of the interview format and setting, and asked if they require any reasonable adjustments to accommodate disability.
  • Interviews should have a consistent structure and timings, with comparable questions asked of all applicants. Exceptions may be made to accommodate disability. Ensure that all candidates receive the same level of positive encouragement and support to enable them to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
  • Consider what it is that you want to assess, and the most appropriate way to assess this. If you don’t need to assess the ability to think quickly, you may wish to enable a richer and more considered discussion by providing candidates with an overview of the interview questions in advance. Disabled candidates may request the exact questions in advance, which is often a very reasonable adjustment to the selection process, and you should aim to provide these at least 24 hours in advance. In such cases, you may also wish to provide the other candidates with an outline of the questions.
  • Panellists should use plain English wherever possible and avoid abstract and/or ambiguous language. All candidates should expect to easily understand the questions that they are asked. Ask individual and concise questions rather than long questions with multiple parts.
  • Be conscious of your thought processes, asking yourself the same questions as you did during shortlisting. Additionally consider whether your judgment has been impacted by common biases such as: relying heavily on first impressions; drawing conclusions based on prior beliefs and expectations; affinity bias (preferring candidates like ourselves); assumptions about departmental or team ‘fit’; the temptation to consider skills that fall outside of the role’s criteria.
  • To highlight and promote the University’s commitment to EDI and the expectations of this being upheld by all staff, you should consider including a related question for candidates such as “If you were successful, how would you embed EDI in your work and in your behaviours?”, as appropriate to the role. You should aim to ask candidates for all senior leadership roles how they would contribute to the University’s EDI goals.
  • After each interview, panellists should have a period of quiet reflection to record their scores and comments. Avoid communicating cues or signals that may influence and shape the approach of fellow panellists. 
  • Consider whether it is really necessary to take up references prior to final pre-offer checks. If it is necessary, be aware that gender and racial bias in references is well-evidenced, and take great care to separate facts from value judgements.
  • Be prepared to justify each decision to advance or eliminate a candidate. Keep secure records of your scoring and decision-making for 6 months before destroying.