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Kennedy's Column

Increase Diversity with Four Unspoken Questions

Many interviewers base part of their assessment of a candidate on the quality of the questions the candidate asks in the interview. However, how many interviewers realize that in the face of increasing diversity, more candidates will be seeking answers to "unspoken questions?"

A culturally diverse person coming into your company for an interview wants answers to the following questions:

- Will I fit in here and be accepted?
- Are there role models here for me?
- Can I become part of a network of employees?
- Will I have support here?

Since these questions are seldom asked directly across cultural lines, it takes sensitivity and ingenuity on the part of the interviewer to respond to them. Answering these unspoken questions is an important responsibility of corporate interviewers because the answers may influence a potential candidate's decision about whether to take the position.

Ideas for answering unspoken questions include obvious solutions such as treating everyone you interview with dignity and respect, and building diversity into your interview team (while avoiding tokenism). If this is impossible because of a lack of diversity in your team or department, include a tour of the facility, cafeteria or someplace where the candidate can see some diversity in your ranks.

If you lack diversity now, it will be increasingly difficult to add it later. In the future, preferred employers, those who pro-actively pursue diversity, will have an advantage over compliant employers. Since only 15% of net new employees will be white males, it is important for interviewers to build diversity . . . now.

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