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8 Steps Recruiters Can Take to Instill Inclusivity in Tech Interviews


Although tech recruiters are rarely the ones conducting coding interviews, they play an important part in setting them up—and no, I don’t mean scheduling.

As TA professionals, you have the power to create an inclusive interview environment for your interviewers and interviewees. Want to know how? This guide will help you.

What is “inclusive interviewing”?

Inclusive interviewing practices aim to provide fair and equal opportunities to all candidates, in an attempt to combat recruitment bias and any form of discrimination. 

For example, to hold interviews exclusively during school drop-off and pick-up times would not be an inclusive interviewing practice. This would exclude many parents, making it difficult for them to do well in the interview process. 

In short, the aim of inclusive interviews is to set all candidates up for success, regardless of their background, gender, education, family situation, disabilities, etc.

“When it comes down to it, the question you are really aiming to answer is: who aces your interview? And the work you are really aiming to accomplish is to eliminate all aspects of that answer that are not relevant to your job’s requirements.”

Sheri Soliman, Senior Software Developer at Shopify

Why should you care? 

Because it’s the right thing to do

I would argue that inclusivity is a moral imperative, or “the right thing to do”. 

Because you could be missing out on talent

Indeed, by overlooking talented candidates due to exclusionary hiring practices, companies risk missing out on valuable skills and perspectives.

You risk not meeting candidates at all (because you fail to offer flexible scheduling, for example). You also risk meeting the right person for the job, but getting an inaccurate read of their skills and potential.

Because diverse teams are better teams

It’s in your interest to make the best hires and build diverse, performant teams. Inclusive interviewing will help you do so. 

The advantages of diversity in tech teams are multiple

One thing I’d say to CIOs and CFOs who are skeptical of diversity is that they literally don’t know what they are missing. When everyone thinks the same way and/or comes from the same background, you get tunnel vision. I find more success when I have a diverse team whose members bring different backgrounds, experiences and voices to the table. New opportunities are found when different voices are heard.

John Bruggeman, CBTS and OnX

Because developers care

That’s right. You should care, because developers care. 

In our State of Tech Hiring 2024 survey, 17% of developers said that company values are what matters most to them when considering a job offer. 

According to CNBC/SurveyMonkey’s Workforce Happiness report, nearly 80% of respondents said they want to work for a company that values DEI.

If you don’t start caring about inclusivity, your employer brand could be damaged and your retention rates could suffer.

What can you do, as a Talent Acquisition professional, to create a more inclusive technical interview environment?

Sure, as a TA professional hiring for tech roles, you won’t necessarily be the one sitting in the tech interview. This will likely be your hiring manager and members of the tech and product teams. 

However, you are probably in charge of building a process, sourcing applicants, communicating with candidates, training hiring managers and overseeing the general interview experience. 

There are a number of things that you can do to set everyone involved up for success. Do these things to create a more inclusive interview environment, and facilitate inclusive tech interviews. 

1. Offer flexible and inclusive interview scheduling

I know, scheduling is a pain. 

It’s not easy to accommodate everyone’s needs and availability. That said, an inclusive interview process starts here, with considerate scheduling.

Imagine this: you’ve been trying to schedule a mid-week interview with a candidate—and it’s proving difficult. You’re starting to get frustrated and question whether or not this person actually wants the job. After all, other candidates are readily available.

Only, the candidate is based in France. You didn’t know, but in some European countries, children don’t go to school on Wednesdays. Indeed, Wednesdays often equate to trickier family logistics for parents. By trying to schedule your interview mid-week, you were inadvertently disfavoring this candidate based on their family situation.

Make sure to offer interview slots on different days and at different times of the day. If at all possible, the person arranging the interviews should not be on the interview panel, and should keep these arrangements confidential. 

Flexible and considerate scheduling should allow all candidates to attend interviews without being penalized or introducing assumptions about their motivations.

2. Build relevant interview panels

Put together relevant, trained interview panels. No one person should be making hiring decisions alone.

It’s widely accepted that a more diverse interview panel will put candidates at ease. Indeed, candidates are likely to feel more comfortable if they can relate to and identify with members of the panel. 

A diverse interview panel also brings different perspectives to the decision making progress and can contribute to minimizing bias. A gender diverse panel, for example, may contribute to mitigating gender bias in the hiring process. 

“42% of women said they have encountered gender-biased or inappropriate questions during a job interview, and 41% said they have felt discriminated against during a job interview, due to gender.”

2024 Women’s Workplace Experience, The Muse

However, be careful not to mandate diversity for diversity. 

Including a woman “because she’s a woman”, but in a position irrelevant to the hiring process, will most likely put her in a situation where her opinion weighs less, making this intention entirely counterproductive. 

You’re wasting your female colleague’s time and reinforcing any feelings of marginalization. 

Also, be mindful not to burden underrepresented groups. It is not their responsibility, as a a minority group, to carry your inclusivity efforts. So, don’t overtask them.

“I believe that although personal experience can provide the empathy and skills necessary to help create workplaces that promote equity and inclusion, this effort shouldn’t be borne by minorities alone.”

Leah Ward Sears, Complex Litigation Partner, Arbitrator and Mediator

A relevant interview panel is one that is collaborative, organized, well equipped to assess the skills necessary to the job at hand, and trained in inclusivity practices and bias mitigation.

3. Create a structured interview plan and scoring rubric

Structured, standardized interviews are much more effective and inclusive than “winging it” interviews. 

“85 years of research by leadership scholars showed that unstructured interviews were ranked so low in effectiveness that they only explained 14% of an employee’s performance.”

Why Job Interviews Are Like Flipping A Coin, Forbes

And, despite what you might think, you should not be building an interview plan based on your candidate, their resume or their past experiences. 

You’ve may have done this in the past. Many of us have! We’ve asked different candidates, different questions, depending on their profile. But, how hard was it to compare them based on their answers?

“I’ll admit that I’ve done this in the past. I used to look at a candidate’s resume, and create questions tailored to their profile. Some variation of ‘I see you did this in your past experience, can you tell me more about that?’. It made for interesting conversations, but it didn’t provide me with an objective basis for comparison.” 

Mathilde Brotier, People Ops Lead at CoderPad 

Aim to build an interview plan based on the skills and competencies you are looking to assess (those that are absolutely necessary for the role). For each candidate for one same role, you should be asking the same amount of questions, worded in the same way, in the same order. 

This is something that you will need to plan in close collaboration with your hiring manager and tech team.

Here’s a quick overview of the process:

  1. List and prioritize the skills and competencies you want to assess
  2. Match skills to interview questions 
  3. List observable candidate responses, actions and results
  4. Sort candidate responses according to a number scale
  5. Provide a hiring recommendation (yes or no)
  6. Bonus: List the skills and competencies you do NOT want to assess

Want to add an extra safeguard? Include a reminder of what you don’t want to assess. For example, I’d recommend excluding interview questions on educational background or side hustles. 

4. Prepare interviewers

It’s TA’s job to set interviewers up for success.

This includes training, templates and setting interviewer expectations. 

“Your goal as an interviewer is not to interrogate the candidate or try to push them until they fail.”

Sheri Soliman, Senior Software Developer at Shopify

Going into an interview they should know, understand and be on board with: 

  1. What inclusivity is and why it matters
  2. What common interview biases they should be aware of
  3. How to use the structured interview plan and scoring rubric
  4. Interview etiquette

This shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Make sure to adjust and repeat your training sessions depending on candidate and interviewer feedback, as well as your own observations and hiring outcomes. 

5. Prepare candidates and offer reasonable adjustments

Inclusive interviewing is all about making candidates feel welcome and comfortable so that they can be their full, authentic selves. Put them at ease. Set them up for success. 

Be as transparent as possible with candidates going through your interview process. Inform and reassure them: 

  1. Give an overview of the entire interview process (how many steps/interviews, timing, etc.)
  2. Detail each interview (what type of questions to expect, what you’re trying to assess, who they will meet, how long it will last, what tools will be at their disposal, etc.)
  3. Proactively offer reasonable adjustments (see inspiration below)
  4. Provide links to any tutorials or sandboxes

6. Consider take-home projects

Recruiters and developers agree on the fact that live coding interviews are one of the most effective ways to assess a candidate’s skills. Technical tests with practical coding questions also appeal to everyone.

In your opinion, which assessment methods provide you with the most accurate view of candidates’ technical skills?

Respondents provided a note between 1 an 5 for each method. 1: This method doesn’t give me a good read of candidates’ skills. 5: This is the best way to assess technical skills.

Live coding interviews (discussion + code)3.833.72
Technical tests with practical coding questions3.593.67
Technical tests with theoretical questions3.273.15
Personal portfolio3.233.37
Gamified technical tests3.183.42
Take-home (asynchronous) development projects3.133.75
Pen and paper/whiteboard coding tests2.882.7

Take-homes can get some bad rep: too time-consuming, too irrelevant, too easy to “fake”… Still, in our recent survey of over 13,000 developers, respondents gave this assessment method an average score of 3.75/5, making it their top choice this year.

My bet is that candidates appreciate the flexibility, reduced pressure and added project context. Indeed, take-homes allow candidates to code in their own environment, according to their schedule, commitments, health, etc. Simply ensure that your candidate is suitably equipped.

7. Provide a performant, collaborative and considerate development environment

The development environment will make or break your technical interview.

Make sure you provide an IDE that mirrors your candidates’ work setup. Ideally, you can allow your candidates:

8. Share and collect feedback from candidates

So as to continuously improve your interview process and weed out any exclusionary steps, be sure to survey both candidates and interviewers.

This will, for example, help you to identify any barriers candidates may encounter and refine your list of reasonable adjustments.

I’d recommend including freeform questions as part of your survey, so as to introduce as little response bias as possible. You could then set some time apart quarterly, for example, to sort answers into bigger buckets and decide what to act on and how.