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Don’t settle for “The people I’m used to are good enough.”

Hiring managers have a huge influence on talent decisions in an organization. By using a more equitable approach, they can make a critical contribution to attracting and hiring top performers from a diversity of backgrounds.

Think like a talent scout

  • Continually build and maintain contacts with different sources of candidates (e.g. organizations and professional associations that serve a diverse range of populations).
  • Participate in networking events and develop internship and mentoring opportunities to raise the profile of your organization.
  • Tap into contacts in your–and your team’s–wider professional network.
  • Encourage potentially qualified employees to apply when opportunities arise.


Hiring for more senior level positions and those requiring specialized knowledge may take time. By networking continuously, you can build relationships that will serve as a feeder for a range of talent and will give you a head start when you are ready to hire. Also, consider ensuring any recruiting firm selected has a DEI policy in place that aligns with your approach.

Craft an inclusive job posting

  • Work with your HR partner to:
    • highlight features of the job that might appeal to candidates from all backgrounds.
    • focus on what is to be achieved in the job rather than how, so you can allow candidates to demonstrate how they would be able to do the job.
  • Ensure the posting mentions the availability of accommodation throughout the hiring process.


Certain language, such as gendered keywords (e.g. “dominant” or “competitive”), or those that can be biased towards a certain age range (e.g. “up and coming” or “fresh”) can deter some talented individuals from applying to those jobs.

Expand outreach

  • Consult regularly with other hiring managers to share information on external candidates and on good internal candidates with potential for other roles.
  • Partner with HR to give them advice on where and how to find good candidates in your field.
  • Encourage employees from all backgrounds to refer people from their wider networks.
  • Identify and engage talented employees to do outreach and act as role models at networking events, job fairs, etc.


Involving role models from a range of backgrounds in a variety of roles demonstrates to job seekers that your organization is inclusive.

Look beyond the format of a résumé

  • Don’t discount or jump to conclusions about résumés in an unfamiliar format – e.g. those that
    • Present information in a different order.
    • List job titles or roles but not achievements.
    • Highlight skills and abilities (functional résumé) rather than work history (chronological résumé).


To avoid any age bias, a skills-based format might be used by both older workers who wish to deflect attention from the dates of their work history or qualifications, or younger graduates who aim to downplay more limited paid work experience.

Use gaps in history as a question point, not a decision point

  • Don’t assume gaps in a candidate’s work history relate to a lack of career path, lack of loyalty or lack of commitment.
  • Similarly, don’t discount candidates who appear overqualified, or those who have held a series of short-term positions.
  • If they are otherwise qualified, use the interview to ask why.


Family responsibilities, a layoff, disability/health reasons, difficulty obtaining work due to being a newcomer to Canada, or starting one’s own business could lead to gaps.

Define the job requirements carefully

  • Focus on job-related skills and qualifications rather than past experiences and job titles.
  • Consider different ways to demonstrate relevant experience and skills, e.g. equivalent qualifications, transferable skills, or alternative relevant experience.
  • Double-check for unnecessary requirements that might exclude some candidates.
  • Develop creative assessment methods and interview questions to evaluate qualifications, e.g. work demonstrations or behavioural scenarios.


Women may have had a non-traditional career path, gaining skills in alternative ways. Research indicates that those involved in hiring are more likely to judge men based on their potential, but are less comfortable doing so for women. As a result, they might discount women’s transferable skills.

Conduct inclusive interviews

  • Assemble an interview panel that can offer a range of perspectives for better decision-making.
  • Look past a candidate’s style (such as accent, body language, and communication style) and focus on substance.
  • If you aren’t hearing the information you’re looking for, try to rephrase your question in a more understandable way.
  • Inform candidates at the start of the interview that they can ask to repeat the question, and they will also have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview.
  • Consult a diversity calendar to avoid scheduling interviews on holidays for major faiths.
  • Don’t forget to highlight your diversity business case and initiatives and how they’ve paid off.


A person with a developmental disability may have a support worker or family member who assists them. Consider allowing a support worker/family member to attend the interview, as they may have additional or more detailed information about the candidate’s abilities and may ask questions that the applicant has not had a chance to consider.

Watch out for unconscious biases

  • Ensure all hiring decisions are based on:
    • information received about a candidate’s qualifications rather than their likeability or what you had in common;
    • conversations on the interview questions, not informal conversations before or after.
  • Remain alert to assumptions, blind spots, and snap decisions.
  • Approach each candidate as a unique individual with a mix of lived experiences. Don’t assume where their interests or capabilities lie–ask them to tell you.


Cultural differences that can impact a candidate’s communication in an interview can include:

  • Handshakes
  • Personal space
  • Eye contact
  • Body language and facial expressions
  • Display of emotions
  • Respect for authority
  • Reporting of personal and team accomplishments

Example Notes and To-Do’s:

  1. List individuals and organizations to contact to diversify my network (including interns, former employees, and well-connected people in various communities/organizations)
  2. List channels/networks/trade publications relevant to my field of responsibility for use by HR outreach
  3. Investigate where to learn more about cultural differences that could appear in interviews, such as resources from the local newcomer-serving agencies (e.g. Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC)).