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Interviewing for Inclusivity and Diversity

July 27, 2020 • Erin Kolecki

Interviewing for Inclusivity and Diversity

Educational entities seeking to battle systemic racism and improve equity within their own schools can do so by hiring educators and other staff who embrace diversity and strive for inclusive efforts to reach all students.

Recent events have spurred many employers, including educational entities, to reexamine their hiring practices in an effort to provide a more inclusive work environment. At TASB HR Services, we are committed to assisting educational entities in continuous improvement in this area. Educators are tasked with providing a safe and equitable learning environment for all students, so any implicit biases need to be checked at the classroom door.

Implicit bias defined

Implicit bias is a set of attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Everyone has implicit biases and understanding them is the first step toward eliminating their effects on the lives of others. Black people, including Black children, experience persistent and systemic racism in their daily lives, so it’s important that teachers provide a very different experience in the classroom. Our educators are entrusted by the community to provide quality instruction for all students.

Behavioral interviewing to address race and equity

Behavioral interview questions ask applicants to describe past work situations and how they reacted. The theory is that past behavior will predict future job performance. Educational entities can apply behavioral interviewing techniques and questions to reveal biases an applicant might hold.

In a 2018 article, Principal Sharif El-Mekki urged fellow principals to include questions about race, class, and privilege in educator interviews. El-Mekki oversees a Philadelphia-area school that is predominately Black and provides examples of questions he uses to ascertain which candidates will be good fits for the school community. His interview questions, and the corresponding analysis of candidate responses, can be applied across all educational entities seeking a more inclusive environment.

Sample interview questions

The HR Library sample interview questions for the following employee groups have been updated to include questions for diversity and inclusion:

It is important to remember that best practice is to ask the same questions of all interviewees vying for the same position. In other words, it wouldn’t be okay to have a set of questions for white applicants and a separate set for Black applicants.

Battling bias doesn’t stop after the interview

Because we all hold implicit biases, it’s also essential to ensure continual progress is being made towards recognizing and overcoming them. Educational entities can assist employees by providing meaningful diversity training while holding educators and staff accountable for providing a safe and equitable education for all students.


Erin Kolecki is a compensation and HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Erin an email at erin.kolecki@tasb.org.


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Tagged: Diversity, Hiring, HR, Recruiting