Inclusive Hiring at Penn State

Inclusive hiring is the practice of applying methodologies to minimize bias and create an equitable application, interview, selection, and offer process for candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Everyone involved in the hiring process has the responsibility to make inclusivity a priority. To learn more about how you can make a difference, explore the information and resources below.

The Job Posting

The job posting provides candidates with the first impression of the University and why Penn State should be their employer of choice. An inclusive job posting should use clear and concise information so that an applicant can clearly understand what the job entails and the required skills and abilities needed to perform it.

Inclusive job postings should use generalizations instead of technology or jargon specific to Penn State, such as "experience using a room scheduling system" rather than "25Live experience" or "experience using financial management, budgeting, and accounting software" rather than "SIMBA experience."

Inclusive job postings should limit job descriptions to include only the responsibilities that are truly required of the role. They avoid describing "nice to haves," and this may reduce the number of applicants.

Finally, inclusive job postings should list diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) competencies such as "demonstrated commitment and ability to successfully advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging" or "demonstrated ability to work with diverse faculty, staff, and students."

  • Where to Advertise?
    • In order to get a broad and diverse pool of applicants, advertising for the position should include outlets beyond the local area. The Human Resources Talent Acquisition team assists the hiring manager in developing an outreach strategy that utilizes advertising outlets that are more likely to provide a diverse candidate pool. 

    • Hiring managers and search committee chairs should work closely with Talent Acquisition Specialists to develop their outreach strategy before beginning the job requisition process in Workday.

Candidate Screening

Talent Acquisition Specialists or the hiring manager will perform an initial screening to determine the pool of candidates who meet the minimum qualifications of the job. This initial screening should be entirely based on the requirements in the job description, eliminating other factors that may reflect a bias such as a preference for Penn State graduates or concerns about gaps in work history. 


Interview questions should focus on the required competencies, knowledge, abilities, qualifications, and experience required to successfully perform the job. Additionally, it is important to understand if a candidate supports Penn State's commitment to belonging. Identical questions should be asked of all candidates.

When developing the interview questions, the interview or search committee should also decide how to rank the answers. The scoring rubric may weigh interview questions equally or unequally. For example, technical ability may be more important for some jobs than interpersonal skills.

  • Interview Questions to Assess Commitment to DEIB
    • How have you contributed to diversity and inclusion in your past role?
    • How do you define diversity, equity, and inclusion and how have your views evolved over time?
    • How would you advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion with colleagues who do not understand its importance? 
    • Can you give me an example of how you make your direct reports feel a sense of inclusion, belonging, and equity on a daily basis?
    • What steps will you take to eliminate bias from your hiring process?
    • Give a specific example of how you have helped create an environment where differences are valued, encouraged, and supported.
    • Tell us about a time when you had to adapt to a wide variety of people by accepting/understanding their perspectives.
    • What have you done to further your knowledge/understanding about diversity? How have you demonstrated your learning?

Interview & Search Committees

Hiring managers are the individuals responsible for making hiring decisions, but these decisions should be informed by feedback from a diverse group of subject matter experts, peers, or stakeholders. Individuals who participate in the search process play a vital role in evaluating and recommending the most qualified candidates to a hiring manager, and they have a responsibility to monitor the process for bias, speaking up when they observe behaviors that do not support equity and inclusion in the hiring process.

Depending on the position being filled, an interview panel or formal search committee may be utilized. 

  • Interview Committee: Key stakeholders for the open position are identified by the hiring manager to participate in the interview and candidate feedback process. Members of the interview team are not typically involved with sourcing, application reviews, or screenings that take place prior to the interviews.
  • Search Committee: A select group is formed to help a hiring manager recruit and screen candidates for a posted position. They act as advisors to the hiring manager, and their responsibilities are broader than the responsibilities of individuals who participate on an interview committee. This hiring model is often used in higher education for faculty and executive hiring. Search committees may perform outreach to extend to the diversity of the applicant pool. They also typically shortlist candidates from the applicant pool, interview the shortlisted candidates, decide which candidates will interview in person (if applicable), and recommend final candidates.

Whether hiring managers utilize an interview committee or a formal search committee, everyone who participates in the search process should take the course "Ensuring Equitable Searches for Staff Positions" or "Ensuring Equitable Searches for Faculty," to help recognize and eliminate bias in hiring decisions.

Additionally, hiring managers can learn more about their role in the overall hiring process by viewing the course, "Talent Acquisition: Hiring Best Practices," on the Learning Resource Network.

Selecting the Candidate

Following the completion of the interview, the hiring manager should ensure they receive feedback from all individuals who participated in the assessment process. There may be insights that other team members had that the hiring manager or other search committee members may have missed. Remember, one of the reasons to have a diverse interview committee is to gather diverse perspectives that help eliminate bias.

Closing the Search

Once a chosen candidate has accepted the job offer, the background check is complete, and the candidate is eligible for employment. Contact all candidates who were interviewed and thank them for their participation in the process. It's important that they feel respected and appreciated.

The University's Statement on Belonging is included in all job postings and advertisements