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Tools: Create an Equitable Interview Process

We each have our own set of biases (conscious and unconscious) and these steps outline how to make the interview process for your board candidate(s) as intentional, objective, equitable, and inclusive as possible. 


Good processes can lead to good outcomes.

Practices designed for consistency and clarity can not only strengthen your process but also minimize the impact of bias. Good practices include:

Seek clarity and remove ambiguity. This includes clarifying the criteria used in making decisions and how you are going to come to a recommendation.

Align the team. Calibrate expectations of interviewers and create a process that is consistent and inclusive. Monitor for bias.

Check your work. Look at gender, race, disability, affinity and other demographics and experiences. Check to see if you are inadvertently favoring some candidates or being unduly harsh on others.

1. Panel Selection

  • Select an interview panel to serve on each candidate interview.
  • Assign questions or capabilities; keep this consistent for each candidate.
  • Make sure you are establishing shared expectations and clear definitions to avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Establish a feedback collection method at the beginning so that members of the panel are not impacted by others' opinions.
  • Consider adding a valued and different perspective to the interview panel, by inviting the People Leader or the company’s banker, accountant, or lawyer who is subject to duties of confidentiality.


2. Prepare for the Interview(s)

  • Develop an interview scorecard to guide the process, but not necessarily for notetaking.
  • Schedule pre-interviews to help equalize the experience for all candidates, especially those without prior relationships to board members. Share expectations, processes, and approaches of the committee.
  • Craft interview questions focused on competencies, personal experiences, and attributes.


3. The Interview

  • Make the interview process consistent for all candidates. Changing or adding questions introduces bias into the process.
  • When giving or receiving feedback on the candidates, focus on similar attributes for all. Try not to vary how you evaluate the candidates.


4. Give Feedback and Discuss

  • Focus on the opportunities and gaps identified in the board matrix. Stick to the criteria and strive for consistency.
  • Notice if there are criticisms for non-traditional candidates and seek to understand if you can either question the criticism or gather more insights through other means.