As a prospective employer, your role is to put candidates at ease so that they bring their ‘A’ game to an interview, ensuring you get the best person from a diverse talent pool. It is also essential in helping you secure the best people as candidates judge you as a prospective employer based on how welcome you make them feel.
Being inclusive begins with how you invite shortlisted candidates to an interview. Some neurodivergent people, for example, may find visiting new places challenging – including navigating transport systems. Then there’s the fear of unknown places, processes, and what questions they’ll ask. So to make people feel comfortable, provide simple, clear instructions and use plain English.
Read on for our top 5 tips for an inclusive invitation to interview.
Signpost the primary information, including the interview’s date and time, location, interview panellists’ names, and job descriptions. Also, include a full address and postcode – many people may find it helpful to use online maps or map apps to find their way.
Help make candidates’ journeys as simple as possible by providing details of the nearest public transport. For example, you could mention nearby train stations. What are the numbers of the local bus routes? Do you have off-road parking? If not, is there paid-for parking on the street, or can you provide a permit for candidates in advance? Where people are getting a taxi, is there a drop-off point? Consider providing travelling expenses.
Are there any special instructions for when people arrive? For example, you may have an office within a shared building, and candidates will need to sign in and come to a specific floor. Is the building accessible for disabled people? Is there a lift? What happens when they get there? Is there a waiting area in reception? If you know who’ll be collecting them, say so, it sounds friendly and helps to relax potential candidates.
There shouldn’t be any surprises so let candidates know what to expect in advance
Candidates benefit from clear instructions and knowing what to expect. There shouldn’t be any surprises. So, if there’s a task and an interview, let candidates know – and what format it will take. How long? Share interview questions in advance to give people a chance to prepare.
You might also mention the dress code. It’s normal to wear formal clothes for an interview, but a smart dress might mean different things to different people – and that’s OK. You’re hiring the best candidate – not their wardrobe. Be alive to your own Unconscious Bias that might judge people on their dress or other characteristics beyond ability.
In addition, waiting to hear back post-interview can be an anxious time. So, let candidates know timelines in advance so they know what to expect. Is this the first of two interviews, or will you be appointing someone after a second round?
The language you use in the interview invitation sets the tone for the interview. Make it friendly without being too informal. Be reassuring and let candidates know that you intend to empower them to do their best rather than “catch them out.” Use simple language so everyone can understand and be clear to minimise miscommunication.