Good Questions Deserve Good - Answers: Screening to Increase Diversity

Equity and Diversity Action Committee 2009 – 2010

Diversity, what a concept! In the effort to seek cultural competence and equity in faculty ranks, the Academic Senate’s Equity and Diversity Action Committee (EDAC) has compiled various screening questions concerning diversity for your consideration. The questions might be used as a mainstay on hiring committees statewide for the purpose of increasing and recognizing diversity within the California Community College system. EDAC hopes to alleviate the anxiety of creating usable questions and understanding good answers to such questions by providing these examples.

Some things to avoid:

  • Asking questions for which your department or area has not agreed on an acceptable and scorable answer.
  • Asking a question about commitment to diversity that is too vague. These types of questions typically receive vague answers that downplay the real importance of embracing diverse students and colleagues.
  • Asking how someone “managed” diversity puts the emphasis on diversity as something that is problematic and needs managing.

Other recommendations:

  • Look for answers that include multiple representations of diversity today (cultural, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT), disabilities, gender, age, religion, immigrants, socio-economic, etc.)
  • Look for answers that demonstrate the applicant’s actual and direct experiences with diverse groups. Look for an investment in diversity rather than simply “supervised someone who” or “attended xxxx event.” Look for direct involvement and for experiences rather than exposure.
  • Look for answers that demonstrate an applicant’s knowledge of their own culture and the cultures of others.
  • Rather than use a question for screening applicants on their knowledge of diversity, try using role play and scenarios where applicants can respond to issues of diversity “on the spot.”
  • Examine college materials that an applicant might review before coming to an interview (web site, catalog, campus buildings/signs/etc.) and see if these materials communicate the college’s value of diversity. This will help applicants know that these questions are serious and require well-constructed answers rather than rhetoric.
  • Be sure that departments, disciplines or areas determine ahead of time what an appropriate response to the diversity question looks and sounds like. This may already be done with content specific questions, so it should be true for questions asked about commitment to diverse students and colleagues.

Sample Interview Questions on Diversity

Explain how diversity has played a role in your career and contributed to the teacher/counselor/librarian/xxxx you are today.

What books/materials/authors have you read on the subject of diversity? What did you find useful to apply to working with heterogeneous cohorts of students?

What is your vision of a college, such as our college, that fully embraces diversity?

How have you participated in diversity events and organizations at other colleges and/or universities?

Provide us with examples of how you incorporate the diversity of your students in your classroom lessons or encounters with students or colleagues.

What ideas do you have about diversity in the classroom?

What programs have you developed in the area of diversity?

What role has diversity played in shaping your teaching/counseling/advising styles?

Describe your involvement in writing or shaping a college plan (program review, matriculation, equity, academic master plan, professional development, accreditation, etc.) where you were the champion for diversity and equity within the plan or its outcomes.

As a higher education professional, what work have you done in promoting diversity in the community?

Provide the candidate with the mission statement that includes how the college values diversity. How has your experience and background prepared you to be effective in this environment with this diversity value?

What do you see as the most challenging aspect of a diverse working environment? What steps have you taken to meet this challenge?

How have you handled situations where a colleague was not accepting of another’s diversity?

What does it mean to have a commitment to diversity and how would you develop and apply your commitment at this college?

How did your current/former college demonstrate its commitment to diversity? What did you contribute to the college’s commitment to diversity?

What efforts have you made, or been involved with, to foster diversity understanding and reduction of bias?

What have you done to further your knowledge about diversity? Have you included diversity in your professional development? How have you demonstrated what you have learned?

What kind of leadership efforts would you make to ensure a commitment to diversity initiatives for the college?

What strategies have you used to address diversity challenges? What were some successful strategies that you have used?

The articles published in the Rostrum do not necessarily represent the adopted positions of the academic senate. For adopted positions and recommendations, please browse this website.