12 diversity questions for interviews (with examples!)

Last updated:
September 13, 2022
September 14, 2022
min read
Gem Siocon
diversity questions examples
Table of contents

Diversity and inclusion are growing in importance as companies focus on creating a diverse workforce.

Countless studies have cited the benefits: enhanced innovation and creativity, increased productivity, and positive employer branding, to name a few. 

Having a diverse workforce doesn’t only mean ensuring that employees from different backgrounds are well represented.

Future employees should also have the mindset of acceptance and respect for all people regardless of age, race, or educational background to cultivate an inclusive work culture. 

Diversity and inclusion interview questions

Below are sample diversity and inclusion questions you can ask during the interview, plus a brief description of what kind of answers to look for from a candidate: 

1. Can you share with us what diversity and inclusion mean to you? Why do you think they are essential?

This is a standard thing to ask among diversity, equity, and inclusion questions. 

As a recruiter, you want to know the candidate’s understanding of DEI and their stance on this issue.  This question also helps to determine what these values mean to the candidate. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate:

Make the candidate define each term - diversity, equality, inclusion- and the distinction between each. Diversity isn’t just about race or sexual orientation.

It also covers age, educational background, religion, people with disabilities, and other traits that comprise a diverse workforce. 

In addition, ask them about the importance of a diverse workforce: 

Do different perspectives bring in more creativity or innovation for the company? Does the company connect well with customers from all backgrounds due to its diverse workforce? Is teamwork more enhanced when employees have at least a fair understanding of basic DEI principles? 

Ask them to elaborate on these points.

2. Can you cite examples of how you can help promote diversity and inclusion within a company? 

As a recruiter, you want to know how dedicated the candidate is to their DEI advocacies. You want to hear concrete actions they are willing to take to demonstrate their commitment. 

Another way to reframe this question is by asking how the candidate can incorporate DEI into the role they’re applying for. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate:

In their responses, look at how they plan to integrate DEI into their roles, for example: 

If you’re hiring a supervisor to start a team, how will they help establish a diverse group: (e.g. an equal number of male and female team members, a mix of new graduates and veterans, etc.) 

Or, if you’re recruiting a Learning and Development Manager, what training opportunities will they design and implement to address DEI issues in the organization?


Learn how to develop a diversity training program in 5 easy steps

Read more here

 3. What is the hardest part of working in a diverse environment?

While there are advantages to an inclusive environment, there are also challenges when people from different backgrounds work together: miscommunication, conflicting ideas, cultural misunderstandings and biases, and slower decision-making and implementation, among other things. 

So asking this question does not only test an applicant’s problem-solving skills. It also offers a glimpse of how open-minded candidates are in understanding opposing views and respectful when accepting a decision that’s different from theirs. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate:

Candidates may be caught off guard or feel awkward initially, which is normal. 

You may try providing context when they ask for more information, like presenting the common challenges mentioned before.

When they answer, check how the candidate will resolve the problem: are they presenting their process of navigating the issue, or do they point fingers or sound defensive?

Look also for a positive tone of voice, that despite the challenges, the candidate still sees that having different types of employees is beneficial for the company. 

4. How do you approach understanding the perspective of a coworker whose background differs from yours? 

Acceptance and respect for diversity begin with acknowledging and understanding the differences of opinion among employees. 

Asking this question is an excellent opportunity to know a candidate’s interpersonal skills and if they’re a team player. Follow up queries should touch on the applicant’s listening skills, respecting other people’s opinions, and understanding of the advantages of diverse perspectives. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate:

To understand someone, you first need to know their beliefs, aspirations, and personal history. It takes effort to understand a person meaningfully, like going beyond the 9-to-5.

Ask candidates what steps they’ll take to get to know a colleague of different background: Are they willing to spend time outside working hours to build rapport, like having lunch with them or spending Friday evenings at team dinners? 

Find out how they’ll address disagreements with a colleague. From their answers, you’ll know how they will come to terms with appreciating viewpoints from someone different. 

5. Can you share a time when you worked with a colleague with a different background/culture than yours and how you made sure to be inclusive of their identity? 

This question is another example of walking the talk.

Answers should reflect how a candidate displays inclusive behavior at work. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate:

Provide hypothetical questions about how they will handle a particular situation.

For instance,  how will they approach a situation where a non-native English speaker coworker asks for help understanding technical documentation? 

Or if the applicant has worked in a company employing people with different backgrounds, let them relay experiences that have taught them about diversity, not only in aspects of race or age but also of what they’ve learned about life in general from these experiences. 

6. As a manager, can you cite specific examples of making your direct reports feel inclusive and welcome within the team? 

Being an inclusive leader in your organization, means promoting a positive company culture and amplifying your employer's brand to future employees.  

Being part of the management team and welcoming someone across cultures and differences also boosts employee morale, contributing to high employee retention rates. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate:

Look for specific examples of how the candidate makes people feel included in their team or department with their previous or current employer. 

Inclusive behavior can be spotted in various ways, like how the manager: 

  • Asks for everybody’s opinions during team meetings
  • Show equal treatment to all direct reports like offering flexible work schedules to everyone on the team
  • Daily interactions with their direct reports

7. How would you manage an incident where a coworker said sexist, racist, or prejudiced statements? 

Asking this question lets the recruiter know how involved candidates will be in the company’s goal of building an inclusive company culture:  Will the candidate tolerate racist, homophobic or sexist remarks of a coworker and let it slide? 

Or, will they stand up for this unacceptable behavior and call them out? Or report it to their manager or HR? 

Will the candidate even go too far by taking matters into their own hands and breaking company rules and regulations? 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate:

During the interview, ask the candidate what they would do if they heard a coworker say something offensive to a fellow employee about their race, age, or sexual preferences. 

Or mention to the applicant if they can share similar experiences they had in the past, whether professional or personal, and how they handled it. 

Based on their answers, the recruiter can gauge the applicant’s commitment to DEI, managing conflict, and making sound judgments. 

8. How would you handle seeing or hearing discrimination in your organization?

This question checks the candidate’s ability to follow DEI principles: will they take an active or passive role in the company’s DEI initiatives? 

You want to confirm if the applicant advocates for equity for the underrepresented groups in the company, which includes ensuring a work environment that is free from harassment and bullying. 

This question should be given extra attention, especially since HR takes company harassment policies seriously. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate: 

Just like the previous question, check if the candidate will ignore the incident or take action like calling the person out doing the offense: Will they confront the person or report it to HR or their respective managers? Will the person approach or console the affected party? 

Check if the applicant takes a more proactive approach against discrimination by quickly identifying and exposing any instances of bullying or discrimination in the workplace. 

Does the candidate also work on improving behavior like treating everyone with respect and understanding cultural differences?


Read on how to prevent workplace discrimination in 5 ways

Go to blog page


9. How do you plan to enhance your understanding and knowledge of DEI? 

Developing an inclusive workplace culture is an ongoing process. It’s much more than knowing broad diversity, equity, and inclusion terms and phrases. 

Cultivating a DEI mindset begins with committing to continuous education.  

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate: 

Look for tangible ways to show their commitment to furthering their DEI knowledge like: 

  • Learning about different cultures, religions, races, working styles, perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences of employees within your organization 
  • Getting familiar with the challenges of people of color, individuals with different religions, people with disabilities, LGBTQ folks, immigrants, and veterans in the workplace
  • Participate in DEI workshops and how to apply it in the workplace
  • Engage in community events organized by groups from various cultural backgrounds that feature different customs and traditions.

10. How do you advocate for inclusivity in the workplace? 

It's not enough that applicants know DEI principles. They must also demonstrate their knowledge by treating their coworkers fairly, especially those from underrepresented groups.

They need to feel they belong and are valued for their contributions to the organization. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate: 

Look for proof of their advocacy for an inclusive work environment like DEI self-education and building relationships with colleagues. 

Another significant factor is the candidate’s awareness of his unconscious bias and how it creeps up in their behavior at work. By being aware of biases, the candidate holds themselves accountable for replacing preferences with inclusive attitudes, which fosters a sense of belonging to the organization. 

Managers can advocate for inclusivity by creating productive team environments where everyone can contribute by solving problems or making suggestions. 

These behaviors include soliciting feedback from introverted team members, ensuring that all opinions are heard and considered, and everyone gets credit for their contributions. 


Check out Recruitee's efforts towards a culture of inclusion and belonging

Read more here

11. How do you eliminate biased behaviors from your daily work?

Letting go of bad habits is easier said than done. People act in many circumstances without thinking much of the consequences and impact it has on other people. Due to ingrained behaviors, people cannot help but favor people with the same opinions and beliefs. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate: 

Look for answers that point out that the candidate is aware of their discriminatory behavior and is taking steps to correct it. 

For example, they should focus on their colleague’s work and expertise, not their age or sexual orientation. The same treatment applies to opposite circumstances like if a close friend at work neglects their duties or starts pointless arguments, they call out the behavior. 

12. Tell us about an instance where you had problems dealing with diversity at work 

It is perfectly normal to struggle when you work with people from various demographics. It's difficult to empathize with others, especially if they hold opposing views. 

However, to have a successful career, you need an open mind.  You need to stop judging people and start to understand where they come from. You have to let go of the expectations of how individuals should think and act. 

What kind of answer to look for from a candidate: 

Ask a situational question, like how they handle working with a colleague opposite them - age, how they solve problems, how they communicate, their personalities, etc. 

Do they act childish and avoid dealing with this particular coworker? 

Or do they try to empathize with the other person by understanding their background and upbringing? And despite the differences, do they try to see the valuable contribution this person is bringing to the team and eventually learn to respect them? 

It doesn’t mean you have to be BFFs but what matters is having a professional attitude at work, which includes respecting and accepting diversity in the workplace. 


Creating a strong culture of diversity, equity and inclusion, starts with your hiring process. One key aspect is hiring employees with the same mindset, so, asking the right questions is essential! 

Diversity and inclusion are here to stay. Interview questions on race and diversity can get you new talent that matches your values and helps companies become more inclusive. 


Want to analyze your diversity efforts? Learn everything about diversity metrics and how to track them

Read our article here

Get the

Get the exclusive tips, resources and updates to help you hire better!

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linked In
Go to the top

Hire better, faster, together!

Bring your hiring teams together, boost your sourcing, automate your hiring, and evaluate candidates effectively.