How to Avoid 5 Common Mistakes in Diversity Recruiting

November 29, 2022
3 min

Kevin Haddock, Mathison Sr. Customer Impact Manager, brings his expertise in talent advocacy and recruitment to help hiring teams avoid five common pitfalls in diversity recruiting.

The argument for building diverse teams is becoming widely accepted. As companies look to hire more overlooked candidates, hiring teams still struggle with how to approach diversity recruiting. 

Here are five tips for hiring teams who are building a diverse pipeline: 

Mistake #1: Relying on your best guess to set goals

When setting a hiring goal, it’s important to be ambitious–and even more essential to be realistic. Hiring teams would love to fill their roles in a week with a quick interview process, and an even quicker closing process, but realistically, we cannot expect our open requisites to all go so well. Instead, it is important to use data to plan a hiring strategy that fits the current team and bandwidth.

Tip: Set goals with data to back them up

Diversity hiring tends to follow a similar pattern to all hiring. When we use available data and set realistic goals, it's much easier to hold ourselves accountable. This does not mean we have to be perfect; instead, we can continue learning and developing new strategies! 

Typically, teams need to find resources to understand available data both internally and externally, so many companies start by partnering with products or services that can give them these insights. Oftentimes this is just the first step in setting up a robust diversity recruiting strategy, but having the right data can help drive the other steps in the process.

Mistake #2: Setting a goal without incentivizing the team

Having a diversity hiring goal is one crucial first step, but it can fall flat without an accountable goal. The key performance indicators for hiring and talent acquisition teams are often focused on interviews and accepted offers. It’s key to make sure that somewhere in these metrics, an employer is also encouraging the hiring team to help increase representation.

Tip: Implement a system to reward/encourage overlooked sourcing

Rewarding teams purely based on hires can result in tokenization, so it’s often best to implement performance metrics around the usage of unique sourcing. If teams are encouraged to consistently take extra time and are provided with additional resources to find underrepresented profiles, they can add these processes into their routine. 

This should result in a consistently representative interview pipeline, especially if the team has this as a priority at the start of any given hiring season or cycle. The team can then also be rewarded for helping achieve some of the overall goals, fostering a sense of teamwork when it comes to doing this work.

Mistake #3: Waiting until the last minute to prioritize diversity

Unfortunately, another common mistake is waiting until the middle of a hiring cycle to start prioritizing diversity. It makes sense that most hiring teams fill their easier and lower level roles first, as they get more applicants and have larger pools of candidates to consider. The downside here is that if a team goes through these hires without prioritizing diverse sourcing strategies, they are left trying to fill high level and niche positions while also trying to hit their diversity hiring goals. This is where many hiring managers may feel they are left choosing between representation and qualification, which should never be the case.

Tip: Prioritize diversity at the start of the hiring cycle

Focusing on diversity while filling every position should be a priority, especially while there are many openings to fill. Setting data-driven goals and implementing the proper systems early in the process can help avoid some of these scenarios, especially when the team is creative around attracting talent for every position.

Instead of being reactive to hiring needs, recruiting and talent acquisition teams can use seasons that are slower for hiring to come up with unique sourcing strategies and partnerships, and when hiring picks up, they can rely on these strategies to keep up a representative pipeline for each open position.

Mistake #4: Reusing the same job requirements and descriptions

While the first three recommendations are all important steps to building out a successful diversity recruiting strategy, they still will not help increase top-of-funnel representation if teams are focused on hiring candidates who “check all the boxes.” When hiring teams reuse job requisites and try to hire candidates with similar experience to existing teammates, they often put themselves in a box that makes diverse hiring more difficult.

Tip: Continue to update and re-evaluate job requirements

We see the most success in hiring from underrepresented communities when we focus on individuals who have the potential to succeed in a given role. When job requirements focus on what a candidate will do once hired, rather than what they have done in the past, it opens up the pool of potential leads, making it easier for your hiring team to source, and keep up a representative pipeline. 

An intentional meeting with the hiring team at the start of the hiring process can ensure that everyone is qualifying candidates on the same criteria, and provides a chance to discuss what skills can be trained against what knowledge will be required to be successful! The team can also take notes on this call to refer to during the hiring process, helping maintain a fair evaluation process.

Mistake #5: Building a diverse sourcing strategy without inclusive interviewing

No matter how well you do with your diversity sourcing strategies, it will not all come together without an Inclusive Interviewing process. Teams that focus too much on representation can forget the importance of making sure each candidate has an inclusive experience once they are in the interview pipeline. A bad interview can often be the deciding factor in a candidate’s decision to accept an offer, so hiring teams need to step back and walk through their interview process.

Tip: Focus on inclusive interviewing along with pipeline representation

A good interview process should be designed for each candidate to show their full potential while giving them a chance to learn more about the company. Developing inclusive and fair interviews can be viewed as its own part of a robust diversity recruiting strategy, but it’s included here because it’s essential to make your work worthwhile.  

Getting started with inclusive interviewing can be as easy as using inclusive language in your job descriptions and interactions with candidates. Your team also can include accommodations that are offered at the start of the interview process to make sure every candidate feels comfortable and gets to arrive at each interview as their best self.

Follow these tips for hiring overlooked candidates to avoid five common mistakes in diversity recruiting:

  1. Set goals with data to back them up
  2. Implement a system to reward/encourage overlooked sourcing
  3. Prioritize diversity at the start of the hiring cycle
  4. Continue to update and re-evaluate job requirements
  5. Focus on inclusive interviewing along with pipeline representation

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