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We provide competency-based behavioral interviewing training for interview teams including hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers. We have been publishing articles for over 40 years to address the myriad of issues encountered in the process of hiring top talent.

Expand Your Cultural Comfort Zone in the Interview

Kennedy's Column

Have you ever been in an interview situation where you experienced discomfort with the candidate because of some difference between the two of you? Participants in our interviewer training learn to recognize this feeling and how to expand their cultural comfort zone in order to reduce bias in the interview. How do you expand your cultural comfort zone? Here is one way:

Let's say an unexpected event occurs that causes you to react, such as a candidate avoiding direct eye contact. Your reaction is to feel uncomfortable. What are your thoughts? If you continue feeling uncomfortable, you are either making negative statements to yourself or asking negative questions. However, at this point, you have a choice:

(1) you can continue in a negative mindset, in which case, you must learn to "get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable" to stay objective, or (2) you can learn to use positive or neutral statements and questions.

Positive or neutral statements and questions keep you open to making the most of this event or situation thereby allowing you to understand diversity.

The following example illustrates your choices. A candidate walks into an interview and gives each of three interviewers a handshake while avoiding any direct eye contact. The first interviewer comments to himself, "I don't trust this guy." The second interviewer asks herself, "What's wrong with him?" The third interviewer thinks, "That's interesting." Who will be the most likely to quickly expand their cultural comfort zone?