What are your favorite DEI questions to ask potential employers?

Hello everyone! 👋

I’m Josefina from Elpha’s content team. ☺️

For our next resource, we’re curious to know what your favorite job interview questions are for vetting a company on its DEI efforts.

Do they have a budget allocated to DEI initiatives? Is their leadership team diverse?

We want to know what matters the most to you when evaluating a potential employer and their commitment to DEI. And we’re curious about which questions you ask, and how you ask them.

Let us know what your DEI questions are in the comments below by EOD Jan 25th, and don’t forget to emoji upvote your favorites 💜

We will let you know if we include your interview questions in the resource!

We really appreciate it as your advice will be helpful to other Elphas who are job hunting and evaluating whether their next opportunity is a match for them and what they value most. ✨

I don't have any DEI questions to share specificially, BUT I find this to be a valuable resource for evaluating companies that are actually walking the walk and not just talking the talk:AnitaB Org's "Top Companies for Women Technologists", an annual program which evaluates participating companies. in case anyone else finds it useful as well, when evaluating a companies DEI efforts.Note that the above is for technologists. Not sure if there are similar programs for others.
I love AnitaB and credit my growth and relative success in to this group! So great to see someone who’s familiar
What are the demographics of your company/leadership team?How has the company committed to DEI?What are your plans for inclusive hiring for the next year?Can you give me examples of ways that your company has worked to accommodate people from all backgrounds?
Love this last question, thank you!
What are your retention stats for BIPOC and women?I don't care what their hiring looks like if they can't retain people.
This is not DEI focused but could be used in that context- Tell me about a time that made you feel proud to work at this company?Other one is: As a manager, can you cite specific examples of making your direct reports feel included and welcome within the team?
I love this "proud of" question. The answers can say so much.My own variation: What's the best part about working here? What's the worst part? The answers to the "best part" generally are similar, e.g. "smart people" and "doing something that matters." But the answers to the second question can be SO useful. Not necessarily red flags, either. One guy who became my manager said that the worst part was that our department was 1/4 the size of another more profitable team, so the other folks got more time and budget. (That is, if we asked for a website upgrade, the OTHER department's needs always came first.) It set expectations, so that when I did take the job (and I loved it!) I knew that I'd have to lobby hard to get what I needed for my team. Oddly this meant less stress, not more.
I like to take a look at the staff page and ask questions I have. If the leadership team is all white, why? Do they see this as a problem? If not, why not? If so, what's their plan to fix it. If the team is all the same age, why? And I don't try to find euphemistic ways to ask or try to couch my questions as non-judgemental. I just ask them honestly. Companies who genuinely care about DEI will already know it's a problem and they'll have an answer and a real plan. And they'll genuinely appreciate that you asked and that you care and it will make them *more* excited about you as a candidate. If they see the question as confrontational or see you as a troublemaker already and it adversely affects your candidacy for the role, then it was never going to be a good place to work. I also ask about their system for determining salary, raises, and promotions. Do they have a system? Or do they just do it however managers are feeling that day? Be transparent - tell them it's a way that you can understand how much a company cares about equity and fairness. Again, if they have a real commitment to DEI, they'll be really excited to tell you about it. If they have a plan, they'll be excited to tell you about it. If they don't like that you asked the question or they only have something vaguely mushy to say, then they probably haven't thought through how to do it equitably and don't prioritize that. Answers you should see as red flags: - "Yes, we know it's a problem and we're starting to figure out how to fix it. (Gives no concrete plan or steps.)" - "We know it's a problem, that's why we'd like to hire people like you, who care about these kinds of things and can help us change. (We won't devote any resources to it, we'll just hope your being here somehow makes us better.)" - "I don't know, I think someone's working on it, but that's not really what my department does. (Equity is someone's job who most people never talk to.)"- "We do annual anti-bias training. (We believe that individuals need to be better, not that this organization's structure needs to be better.)"It's hard to do, because we really want employers to like us when we apply. But I think it's worth talking about the things you care about and having them possibly not like it and not hire you, because that kind of place wasn't going to be a fit anyway. It's okay to be confrontational about this stuff in the interview, because eventually, you'll feel the need to get confrontational about it if you work there for a while. Find out as early as possible how that's going to be received.
These questions you listed are awesome!>> “…determining salary, raises, and promotions. Do they have a system? Or do they just do it however managers are feeling that day? Be transparent - tell them it's a way that you can understand how much a company cares about equity and fairness.”I also loved how you framed the red flags and the parenthetical subtext behind them. I want to add these to my interviewee question bank!
This isn't a question, per se. But back in the Before Times, when we all spent more time in offices, I looked at how the women's bathroom was stocked.Fifteen years ago, I was happily startled to see that my then-new employer had a women's bathroom set up with baskets of tampons and other body-care items. (I've forgotten what, exactly, but it was all useful.) I took that as a quiet demonstration of supporting women in the tech industry. And ever since, I look for the "little things" to show that they mean it.
I have found that some companies (including one that I have worked at) have efforts to hire women for early career/new grad roles, and may even have women in high-level leadership positions; as a result, there might be women in the very visible leadership roles, and the percentage of women in technical positions or overall at the company will seem acceptable; however, they are largely ignoring and failing to support women for advancement into the middle management positions or tech lead roles (and perhaps failing to support women already in those roles). Knowing that the company’s DEI initiatives extend to women at every stage of their careers is very important to me.I generally try to do or ask some the following: ⁃ I just take a look at the company’s site and/or poke around LinkedIn to gain insight on who is filling the executive roles. ⁃ Where can I find data on the company’s demographics? Do you have data for middle management, tech lead, etc. roles? ⁃ What mentorship or leadership development programs do you have? How is participation decided? ⁃ Take a look at their interview panel. Ask yourself: who have they chosen to represent the group/team you are interviewing with? ⁃ What opportunities do employees have to engage with DEI initiatives?
I'm in design, so usually:- How does your company feel about universal design?- What work are you doing, or have you done, to make your product more accessible to your users?- Many experts are noting that companies now hiring locally instead of remotely are impacting their DEI recruitment numbers, and creating working environments that are ableist once more; how is your company handling this? What do you expect to change over the next year?- Your delivery team has a tight deadline and is burning the midnight oil to hit it. Where are you? (leaders who are online alongside their people are often the most inclusive, kind and empathetic leaders)
I'm a little late but I want to share a few questions and what I do to make interviews more inclusive (and less anxiety inducing)!I was asked these questions in interviews recently and loved them:-Have you made your product more accessible? How?-How do you communicate with your team and community about DEI initiatives?-Are there any upcoming DEI initiatives?I'm the head of marketing at Beaming Health, a marketplace to help neurodiverse families find services. So we have to make sure we incorporate more inclusive and neurodiversity-affirmiing practices. For interviews, I send questions ahead of time to folks as they prepare. Everyone has loved and appreciated this small but helpful change in the interviewing process.I hope others incorporate this!
Yes Amy! Another thing I’ve seen and liked, not a question, but asking for work samples early on can be a powerful inclusion tool for neurodivergent potential hires. It allows the work to speak for itself and doesn’t over index on the old school adages of, “a good employee looks me in the eye and has a firm handshake.”
Love this!!
I would also come prepared with any public-facing commitments the company has made and ask them how the initiatives has rolled out? What was its successes and failures? Depending on the person, i.e. if they are someone whose identity I resonate with, I also ask what has their experience been and what kind of unwritten culture norms are there? The recruiter may not necessarily know the answers to these but if you get to a team lead or someone that the role is working with, they can usually speak to these questions better.