Are you a multicultural job seeker, military veteran, part of the LGBT+ community or have a disability? More than ever before, the answer is likely to be “yes.” Increasingly, employers pay attention to diversity and inclusion — so candidates should know how to talk about diversity in an interview setting.
Here are our top ten tips for how to talk about diversity in an interview.
How To Talk About Diversity In An Interview
Remember to make eye contact.
Employers and hiring managers interviewing you expect a direct gaze and a firm handshake. Your interviewer will remember your confidence and self-assuredness if you maintain direct (but not totally uncomfortable) eye contact. It’s a gesture that means you are listening and you care about what’s being discussed.
Bragging vs. explaining your accomplishments
In wondering how to talk about diversity in an interview, know that it’s your time to self-promote. Although it may feel distasteful to some, it’s perfectly normal to promote your abilities and diverse background through telling specific, factual stories from your experience. Be concise and confident. Whether you’re a veteran, a person of color, a woman in a male-dominated industry, have a disability or are part of the LGBT+ community, present your diversity as an asset to the role and company you’re applying for.
Express your diversity with anecdotes.
Before the interview, come up with 4-5 examples of times you’ve done a job or task well. What was the problem or issue, what did you do, and what was the outcome? Be specific. These are your own stories. Practice recounting them, because they can serve as strong answers to pretty much all the questions an employer might ask. What sets you apart? Are you part of any cultural or otherwise identity-related groups, such as an LGBT+ alliance or a women’s group? How has your background contributed to successes in past roles?
Focus on what you can do.
If you have a disability, for instance, highlight your abilities first. If possible, consider waiting to disclose your disability until you have demonstrated your abilities. For example, one hearing-impaired candidate took the time to create strong cover letters for each application. While her phone skills proved limited, prospective employers experienced her exceptional written communication immediately.
A tip for military veterans
Veterans have learned the language of the military, which can be a barrier during an interview in the civilian world. Remember to “translate” any military ranks, acronyms, job functions or jargon into terms the hiring manager will understand.
Professional, not personal
If your cultural background places high emphasis on family relationships, resist the urge to talk about your family when asked about your greatest accomplishments. Although this is a valid aspect of your diversity and uniqueness, it may not make sense to tie it in to your own accomplishments.
Don’t be long-winded.
Avoid excess elaboration in your responses to interview questions. The interviewer probably won’t take more time for the interview than what’s scheduled. You might find yourself interrupted mid-story if you ramble.
For seasoned candidates…
If you have previously held senior-level roles, be ready to discuss why you want this particular job and why you’re not “overqualified.” Express your genuine interest in this position, the company and your qualifications.
Accentuate the positive.
You might have experienced discrimination in the past. Yes — it’s an awful feeling. But keep any lingering resentment, bitterness or negativity out of the interviews. To stay upbeat, highlight your talents and strengths that stem from your uniqueness, and always avoid gripe sessions. Don’t complain about former coworkers or supervisors; just move forward and find the silver linings!
Don’t accept less than the best.
One way to find an employer who appreciates your diverse perspective? Focus your job search on award-winning employers with track records of diversity initiatives or awards. Meet some of the best companies for diversity & inclusion at our 3rd Annual Diversity & Inclusion Career Event. Secure your spot today!