10 Questions on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Ask in a Job Interview

A list of questions to ask in a job interview to vet a company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts with some of our favorite answers.

Many factors can fuel your desire to work at a company. If diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to you, it makes sense that you’d want to vet a company on its efforts. After all, feeling like you belong and are supported at work are important parts of what will set you up for success in the long run.

Part of that vetting process can take place in the job interview itself – whether you’re interviewing with the recruiter, the hiring manager, the founder, or other members of the team.

We turned to the Elpha community to find out what their favorite DEI questions are to ask during an interview. Here are 10 questions members recommend along with a few of our favorite answers to these questions from companies we partner with who are hiring right now:

1. How would you describe the company’s culture? This question may give you a sense of whether diversity, equity, and inclusion are top of mind. 

2. Can you give me examples of ways that your company has worked to accommodate people from all backgrounds? asked by @glojdallas . The answer to this question will indicate whether they “practice what they preach”. If they have an inclusion strategy or can name some of their best practices, it’s a sign that they’ve assessed where the company stands in terms of DEI, identified problems, and created an action plan for addressing these.

3. What does diversity mean to the company and what value does it bring? If there is a clear understanding of the business case for diversity and how it contributes to the company’s bottom line, they are more likely to be committed to DEI and actively promote it.

4. Where can I find data on the company’s demographics? Do you have data for middle management, tech lead, etc. roles? asked by anonymous . This allows you to concretely see which parts of the company are lacking in terms of diversity and whether there are opportunities to “climb the ladder” for people from underrepresented backgrounds. If the data is readily available, it can indicate an intention to improve and that the company values transparency.

5. How has the leadership team at the company committed to diversity? If the leadership team isn’t diverse, this is an opportunity for the company to talk about its strategy for creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

6. What opportunities do employees have to engage with DEI initiatives? asked by anonymous . This will give you an idea of the resources available for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. Do they have mentorship opportunities? What about ERGs? If so, what are some of them? Do they have a budget allocated toward DEI initiatives? 

7. How are the company’s hiring efforts contributing to its diversity?  – asked by @glojdallas . If the person interviewing you is informed on how the company is making sure that the hiring process is free from bias and provides an equal opportunity to everyone, it can signal that they have a strong commitment to diversity. Partnering with communities like Elpha is another concrete way for companies to demonstrate they are invested in hiring from and building relationships with diverse candidate pools.

8. What are your retention stats for BIPOC and women? asked by @seisei . This question is equally important and a follow-up question to #7; it’s important to know whether the company is also able to retain candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. The answer to this question can speak volumes about how the company sets its new hires up for success. As @seisei put it , “I don't care what their hiring looks like if they can't retain people.”

9. Does the company have a system for determining salary, raises, and promotions? asked by anonymous . This question will help you understand their compensation philosophy and their commitment to equity and pay transparency. As an anonymous poster stated, “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”.

10. Have you made your product more accessible? asked by @amygong . A way to gauge if the company has thought of accessibility and inclusion – not just within the company, but also through their product.

Bonus question to ask yourself: who have they chosen to represent the group/team you are interviewing with? suggested by anonymous . A lack of diversity in the interviewing team could be a reflection of the company or that specific department’s diversity. Take note of how they interviewers made you feel throughout the process. Did they make you feel like you could be part of the team? Did you see yourself represented in the individuals who have the decision-making power? 

Companies that partner with Elpha do so because they are committed to building diverse and inclusive teams. We asked our partner companies to answer these questions so you can learn more about their commitment to DEI. Here are a few of our favorite answers:

Can you give me examples of ways that your company has worked to accommodate people from all backgrounds? 

Kolide ’s answer:

“We recently held a talk about neurodiversity where we learned about neurodivergence and how to support our colleagues who identify as neurodivergent. In this vein, we try to see that not everyone experiences the world in the same ways that we do and may experience tasks very differently. For example, a task that is quite easy for someone might be much harder for someone else. If an employee needs a formal accommodation, we have a process for that as well. 

We also support those from all backgrounds by having a flexible work environment. Folks can work the hours that work best for them, with unmetered PTO. This can allow those with chronic conditions or family obligations to take care of those needs while still maintaining full-time employment.”

Ethena ’s answer: 

“We aim to prioritize a diverse, inclusive, and equitable approach in everything that we do, versus approach it from a siloed effort. Some of the ways we’ve put this into action include:

  • Adjusting our PTO policy to allow employees to swap company holidays they don’t celebrate with cultural holidays that they do.

  • Adjusting our company-wide events to take place at times that are more inclusive to parents who need to step away for school pickup.

  • In partnership with our employees, creating spaces and opportunities for education and celebration, including a DEI Slack channel, ERGs, and company spotlights.

  • Including pronouns in our employee directory, Slack, Zoom, and email signatures. (We also include name pronunciations in our company directory.)”

What does diversity mean to the company and what value does it bring?

Fuse ’s answer: 

“Both of our founders identify as female and are Asian-American, so diversity is in our DNA. We love hearing a variety of opinions as we believe that builds a stronger business.”

Canopy ’s answer: 

“Our accelerated growth is the direct result of our diverse backgrounds — our differing experiences of affluence/poverty, our physical, racial, ethnic, and neurological diversity, and the many perspectives we bring to the table based on our unique individual and family histories.”

How has the leadership team at the company committed to diversity? 

Ethena ’s answer: 

“We’re proud to say that our representation is consistent across leadership and non-leadership roles, with 37% of our executive team identifying as a person of color, and 62% identifying as women. Representation at the top is critical to effective DEI because having a seat at the table matters. This empowers our leadership team to speak from a more diverse set of perspectives and experiences as we continue to grow an increasingly diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. 

More tactically speaking, our leadership team leads by example. They live our DEI philosophy, which is to say, they prioritize and consider it in everything they do: from recruiting to career growth, and more. They champion efforts like creating more inclusive PTO policies, identify opportunities to improve, and are constantly working to listen and learn from our employees.”

What opportunities do employees have to engage with DEI initiatives? 

Kolide ’s answer: 

“We host events for Pride Month, Mental Health Awareness, Women's Month, and Black History Month where employees can engage with content and activities as well as become more aware of the issues impacting these groups. Additionally, we recently put into place an accommodations policy to support individuals with mental and physical disabilities. We have a Slack channel specifically for women and nonbinary employees as well.

Ethena ’s answer: 

“We believe every employee is responsible for doing their part to contribute towards our goal of fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. That means speaking up, sharing ideas, and being part of the solution. In order to empower our employees in those efforts, we proactively solicit feedback (i.e Feedback Friday), educate our employees through DEI training, and share employee demographics and company insights (i.e. DEI survey results) with them.

Effective examples we’ve seen of Ethenians owning their part of the DEI responsibility pie include:

  • Suggesting (and then creating) a DEI Slack channel to share DEI-related insights, resources, questions, and more.

  • Requesting a shared company calendar where employees can add cultural holidays of significance to them so that we can help avoid scheduling important company events on days when some Ethenians won’t be able to attend (scheduled to go live in Jan 2023!)

  • Flagging exclusive language and sharing resources of inclusive alternatives.

  • Building awareness around disabilities and sharing educational resources on how to support and better partner with people of differing abilities.”

How are the company’s hiring efforts contributing to its diversity?

Accord ’s answer: 

“We have implemented what I would call the baseline of best practices for recruiting efforts. Interviews have the same set of questions asking about one particular area, you cannot see others feedback before you write your own, etc. 

Also we are working with groups like Elpha to make sure our reach is outside of our own networks.”

Canopy ’s answer: 

“As we grow, Canopy evaluates new hires based on their skills, domain knowledge, and experience. To move our company forward, we seek out those who share our values and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Oftentimes, pictures are covered and names are anonymized.

Ethena ’s answer:  

“We focus on making every part of our hiring efforts inclusive, starting with our job descriptions. Melanie, our VP of People, wrote an article speaking specifically about how to write better job descriptions that improve inclusivity. Too many potential applicants are disqualifying themselves before they’re even in the running, and it’s our responsibility to change that by writing better job descriptions.

Our interview process is designed to consider the whole person and not just their qualifications, as we believe that a diverse workforce leads to a more creative and innovative environment.

We keep an eye on the metrics, including new hire demographics, and are transparent about our processes, goals, and how we're tracking progress. And, because we believe that every person should be fairly compensated for their work, we make sure to offer consistent compensation packages. We also provide trainings and resources to ensure a fair and consistent candidate experience and encourage our hiring managers to partner with our recruiters in these efforts.”

Does the company have a system for determining salary, raises, and promotions? 

Canopy ’s answer:  

“Canopy determines promotions on a bi-annual basis through our performance review process and reviews compensation alongside market data within Pave and Option Impact for any adjustments.”

Kolide ’s answer:

“Yes, we use Radford/Aon's salary database in order to annually review employees' salaries and ensure that everyone is paid based on their level which is determined by their scope of work and years of experience. Additionally, our engineering department has defined levels which ensures that folks know how they can get promoted, which can happen at any time of the year, not just during performance review season.”

Have you made your product more accessible? How?

Color ’s answer:

“Yes - we have a medical equity working group that has spun up user research studies for visually and hearing impaired patients, to determine what changes should be made to our products. We have also done the same for the sex/gender/orientation language we use in our products.”

Ethena ’s answer: 

“For Ethena, accessibility is not an afterthought, but a core consideration of our product! We currently have our VPAT certification (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template), and are continuously working to ensure all new products/features meet AA Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Our company mission is improving workplace culture for all, so it is important that all learners on our platform are able to complete our training, regardless of ability.”

👀 All of these companies recruit directly from the Elpha Talent Pool.  Add your profile to be matched with openings that fit your skillset and values.

Recommended Resources

Pride 2022: What Does Inclusion Look Like to You?

The LGBTQIA+ community at Elpha shares stories and insights on what inclusion in the workplace means to them.

Personal Life

The Transparent Salary Playbook: Creating a Compensation Model connected to Growth

Pay transparency starts by building a Career Framework for your company.

Career Growth
Expert Advice