Minority ethnic recruitment toolkit

A toolkit to support employers in recruiting from minority ethnic communities.

Sifting and Interviewing

Agreeing the criteria for shortlisting and interview upfront can help avoid bias within the recruitment process as people are assessed against an objective criteria.

A number of approaches at application sifting and interview stage, when combined, have shown to be effective in improving minority ethnic recruitment. 

Anonymised applications

Consider removing names of applicants from application forms before the sift stage, to help avoid conscious or unconscious bias. This helps to avoid assumptions about personal identity. You may wish to consider how the application form is assessed, for example to enable names to be replaced by candidate numbers to ensure that assessments are made purely on the applicant's evidence.

Assessment activity

If your organisation requires applicants to undertake an assessment, consider the accessibility of the assessment methods used. Are they easy to understand if you are not from that organisation? Do they favour people from certain backgrounds (e.g. with certain experience or certain education)? 

With any assessment, whether in-house or bought in, check that the method has been tested with people with different protected characteristics to ensure it doesn't unfairly discriminate. Ensure that this is considered in your equality impact assessment of your overall recruitment strategy.

Diverse interview panels

Consider training minority ethnic staff to participate as recruitment panel members. This should be offered as a development opportunity and where there are small numbers of minority ethnic staff, care should be taken not to rely too heavily on the same people.

If possible within your recruitment policy, partner with another organisation to pool staff for sitting on recruitment panels – this can help you to have a larger pool of people to draw on and helps to avoid continuously relying on the same group of people.

Ensure that all your panel members, including minority ethnic staff members, are trained in race equality. Don't assume that just because someone is of a minority ethnic background that they have expertise on race equality.

Good practice in interview questioning

Check that interview questions do not disadvantage a candidate because of how you have phrased them. E.g.

"Tell me from your professional experience about…"
"Tell me from your professional or personal experience about…" 

This helps to recognise other skills and experience that may have been developed within career breaks.

Review why you are asking the question and ensure that the question enables you to get the answer and avoid terminology that has double meaning. E.g.

"How do you deal with conflict?" 
"How do you manage a problem within a team?" 

Consider testing some of the proposed questions on different groups of existing staff, including those from different racial backgrounds, who are not involved with the recruitment process. This will help to ensure that the meaning of the questions is universally understood and not open to misinterpretation. If you have a race equality network, draw on their insight for this.

Application and interview feedback

Application and interview feedback is another important process to improve diversity. Good candidates apply but may not have explained their competence, skills or experience in a manner that will score highly in the recruitment methods used, and so do not progress to the next stage. Providing feedback will help applicants to learn from the experience and may improve their chances next time.


Email: mandy.watts@gov.scot

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