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How To Improve Your Diversity Hiring

Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Cultural differences
Diversity
Hiring

4 July, 2019

Aanchal Jain, Senior Engineering Manager at Quantcast, explains how optional interview coaching can help diverse candidates to overcome cultural barriers within the hiring process.

Problem

Last year I was thoroughly involved in the hiring process as our company experienced unprecedented growth. As the only female senior manager in the company at that time, I was profoundly concerned that only a significantly small number of diversity candidates was hired. I looked closely at hiring process trying to understand why diverse candidates were not getting through. I noticed that a large number of diverse candidates who were invited for an interview were not passing to the next phase.

Actions taken

I assumed that there were cultural barriers that prevented diverse candidates to pass further along the hiring process and that we could help them to overcome these barriers by organizing coaching sessions. We decided to organize coaching sessions for all diverse candidates who opted for it. The coaching is offered to all engineers with diverse backgrounds who passed for an interview. They can either come on-site or participate via Hangout. Candidates will be paired with one of our engineers who would conduct a real-life interview with them and provide them with feedback on how they did and how well they performed technically. One of the most common barriers that we've noticed is that engineering candidates would rush to a whiteboard without asking any questions. They were reluctant to engage in a conversation and clarify what the problem was before delving into coding. We can't teach someone programming in an hour but we can teach those candidates how to act in a setting that is culturally specific.

Lessons learned

  • I initially organized coaching sessions only when hiring for my teams, but soon after this initiative of mine expanded to other teams as well.
  • The results were very impressive -- 75% of diverse candidates who went through coaching landed themselves an offer from my company.
  • I didn't encounter much resistance. My colleagues understood well what these programs were about and that they should help diverse candidates to overcome cultural barriers through communication. I believe that this program improves diversity in the workplace which is beneficial to all.

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