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​How to create an inclusive and equitable interview process – a guide for Professional Services hiring managers

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How to create an inclusive and equitable interview process – a guide for Professional Services hiring managers

Thankfully, EDI is now becoming established within Professional Services firms, and employers and employees recognise both the internal  and external business benefits that come from a more diverse workforce. 

It’s no longer enough for an organisation to simply say that they’re inclusive. They need to be able to prove it, to walk the walk. That means looking at their entire business and embedding EDI into every aspect. The recruitment process is a great place to start.

Interviews are a necessity of any growing Professional Services firm, but it’s also where firms can overlook inclusivity and revert back to ‘the way it’s always been done’.

In Ambition’s recent survey of employees and jobseekers, it was clear that there is a lot of work that still needs to be done when it comes to creating truly inclusive hiring processes. (add link to survey blog)

The time is over for making excuses and it’s time to get serious about inclusivity and interviews. 

Impact of EDI

The body of research showing the commercial benefits to EDI is growing. No longer is it something lurking in the shadows, it’s front and centre. Candidate expectations have changed. 

Candidates are searching for employers that champion EDI, that practice what they preach and that encourage diversity. According to one study76% of job seekers consider EDIa crucial factor when evaluating potential employers. For businesses that dismiss EDI as a phase, or something that doesn’t apply to them, they’re missing out on up to ¾ of the job market. 

Beyond candidate attraction, EDI has shown itself to be a transformative tool within the business itself. Inclusive companies are120% more likely to hit financial goals. Those with diverse teams are70% more likely to capture new markets. With EDI contributing positively to every aspect of the business from profit to productivity, it’s clear that it’s time to embed best practice throughout the business.  

EDI and recruitment best practice

When it comes to making changes and effecting a culture, it’s easy to focus on the here and now. The physical location, policies and ways of working, social aspects. In other words, the aspects of a business which affect those already in post. For businesses that are serious about EDI the change needs to go further. It needs to include recruitment, not just onboarding.

A recent study by Ambition found that34% of business services professionals felt they had experienced discrimination during the recruitment process. If that’s what’s happening before they’ve got a foot in the door, it’s a big worry what happens when they become part of the business.

There are some basic steps you can take which will help hiring managers to embed EDI at every stage of their recruitment process, from advert to offer. Ensuring that there’s a fair and inclusive process to bring the best talent into the organisation.


Inclusive descriptions

Job descriptions need to use inclusive language that appeals to candidates. Removing jargon, acronyms, and gendered language helps attract a wider talent pool. It’s also key to consider the criteria you’re asking for, while it’s important to cover the necessary requirements. Men will apply for a job if they meet 60% of the requirements, compared to women who will only apply if they meet every criteria. Avoid a long wish list and focus instead on the absolute essentials.

Widen your search

If you aren’t already attracting a diverse audience you need to examine where you’re advertising. Seek out alternative ways to target diverse and underrepresented candidates instead of relying on your tried and tested methods. 

Think about the whole process

Often when we’re recruiting we’re reacting to a situation and speed is of the essence. Take some time to work through every touchpoint of the process to see what could be communicated better or made more inclusive. That way next time you can follow a process rather than reacting.


Diverse interview panel

Candidates need to see that diversity exists within the business. By considering who sits on the panel you can create a situation that has a broader perspective and helps the panel to see past their unconscious biases. 

Sharing questions

For neurodivergent candidates the uncertainty of what they’ll be asked and how they’ll answer it can sometimes be too much. Sharing questions in advance sets all of your candidates up for success. They have time to choose the most relevant example that shows their skills and expertise, rather than the first one that springs to mind. 

Interview training

Who taught you how to interview? Or even better, interview fairly? Chances are, no-one. Introducing mandatory interview training for hiring managers once a year can help to mitigate biases in the recruitment process and ensure fairness and equity. If those members of staff don’t have up to date training, they aren’t permitted to be involved in the interview process.

Offer and Onboarding


Understanding when you’re going to hear from people, how long you’ve got to make a decision and what happens next is an important part of an inclusive process. Outlining expectations and the timeline helps alleviate uncertainty and allows for your chosen candidate to make appropriate plans. 

Have the conversation

Assumptions are the enemy of EDI. When you assume what a candidate or employee needs then you’re likely to be wrong. The most inclusive and diverse environments feed off open communication. There’s no better time to start that than in the recruitment process. Showing that you’re empathetic of their situation and needs sets the tone for the rest of their employment.

AI and EDI

We can’t talk about EDI and recruitment without touching on AI. There are a whole host of ways that AI can help streamline the recruitment process from creating job descriptions to screening CVs. When it comes to creating an inclusive recruitment process it’s important to sense-check how you’re using AI. 

There have been instances where AI has selected candidates with the same experience based on a name or shown bias towards male candidates. AI is only as good as the data and information it’s been fed, and if that information contains bias, chances are the results will too.

Reviewing and auditing your results when using AI is the only way you can be sure that your process is free from bias. For those using AI, be sure to schedule in regular reviews and spot checks.

When it comes to creating an inclusive and equitable interview process in Professional Services there are a few key steps that you can take. All of those steps start with taking time to review every touch point and opportunity within your overall process and understanding how you can embed inclusivity at the heart of it. 

By taking a systematic approach and working from advert to offer, you’ll be able to identify how to improve your inclusivity.

From a diverse interview panel to removing gendered language to sharing questions to creating and sticking to a clear timeline. The changes you make will not only foster a more inclusive and diverse environment but it’ll also make a more streamlined process that people will enjoy being part of.