Interview Strategies that Identify Functionally Diverse Perspectives (Case Study 1)

One Way to Recruit Diversity that Promotes Innovation and Productivity

Work teams with high levels of functional diversity — diversity in the way an individual frames and solves problems — can significantly increase innovation and productivity. To reap this benefit, organizations need to identify and recruit talent with diverse patterns of thinking or problem-solving. This need is especially great for organizations in competitive and fast-paced environments like IT.

Here are some suggestions for interview strategies that help identify functionally diverse perspectives:

  • Scenario Analysis. Many companies already use scenarios to see how candidates behave or solve problems in a given situation. Often, though, employers look for candidates who solve these problems in ways that have been predetermined as “best,” or as the best “fit” for the organization. To increase functional diversity, employers also should seek candidates who solve these problems accurately but in ways that differ from the organization’s standard practice.

  • Pile Sorts. In this innovative interview strategy, candidates categorize a number of objects, concepts, or ideas that are initially listed in random order. This strategy is particularly helpful for identifying candidates with different perspectives or patterns of thinking. The figure below illustrates how this method works. Use it as a model for developing lists of objects or concepts relevant for your field and business unit.

  • Ability or Aptitude Tests. If your company currently administers a test or questionnaire that is scored on the basis of the highest number of “correct” answers, modify this process. Consider also awarding additional points for questions that are solved accurately but in ways that differ from the current company standard. Of course, questions need to be complex enough for this method to work. If the current test does not contain sufficiently complex questions, add some that allow for a variety of correct solutions or problem-solving approaches. In addition to awarding points for accurate answers, give additional credit for answers that are solved using diverse, innovative, or unique approaches. Also give particular credit or attention to candidates who correctly answer questions that most others get wrong.


View related research:


Author: Catherine Ashcraft