30 sample interview questions and answers for diverse students was originally published on College Recruiter.
Some employers are careful to ask every candidate for a role the same questions and in the same order. Doing otherwise can introduce bias into the interview process, even if it is unconscious.
For example, if an interviewer only asks female candidates if childcare or other family obligations might get in the way of them traveling overseas once or twice a year, it is likely that the employer will hire fewer female candidates as they’ll be more aware of the potential conflicts.
Candidates are in a difficult position when asked any question, whether that question is well-founded or not. Decline to answer and few employers will view you favorably. Answer truthfully and the truth may hurt your chances. Although it certainly isn’t a silver bullet, it can often help to envision prior to the interview the kinds of questions you’re likely to be asked so that you can prepare good, truthful answers for each. Here are 30 sample questions diverse candidates may hear and examples of how you might answer them:
- Can you describe a situation in which you felt like an outsider? How did you handle it?
During my study abroad semester in Spain, I initially felt like an outsider due to language and cultural differences. However, I decided to see it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. I took Spanish classes, joined local student clubs, and made an effort to understand their culture, which ultimately led to a rewarding and enriching experience.
- How do you believe your unique background will contribute to our team?
Coming from a multicultural background, I have had the opportunity to view situations from different perspectives. I believe my diverse experiences will bring new ideas to the table and help us solve problems in more creative and inclusive ways.
- Have you faced any particular challenges during your academic career because of your background?
Being a first-generation college student, I faced challenges navigating the college system on my own. But it pushed me to be resourceful and proactive, qualities that I will bring to my professional career.
- How have you handled bias or prejudice in the past?
When I encountered a prejudiced comment during a group project, I addressed it calmly and assertively, discussing why the comment was inappropriate and how it could negatively impact our team dynamic.
- How do you handle difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion?
I believe it’s important to create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts. I try to approach such conversations with empathy, patience, and open-mindedness, promoting mutual respect and understanding.
- How would you contribute to our company’s diversity and inclusion efforts?
I’m eager to participate in employee resource groups and diversity initiatives. I also believe in leading by example, creating an inclusive environment by respecting and valuing the perspectives of my colleagues.
- Can you describe a time when you had to advocate for diversity and inclusion?
At university, I organized a campus-wide event for the student diversity council to discuss issues like microaggressions and implicit bias. The event helped to raise awareness and stimulate conversations about these critical topics.
- How have you worked with or supported others from different backgrounds?
In my previous internship, I worked in a team with people from different countries and cultures. I made it a point to learn about their backgrounds and tried to incorporate their perspectives into our project. I believe this not only strengthened our team cohesion but also enriched the final result of our work.
- How do you promote inclusivity in a team setting?
I believe every team member’s input is valuable, so I always encourage open communication and active participation from everyone. I also strive to foster a supportive environment where all team members feel safe expressing their thoughts and ideas.
- How do you respond when someone’s opinion offends you?
I believe in constructive dialogue. If someone offends me, I calmly explain why I find their viewpoint offensive and attempt to engage them in a conversation about our differing perspectives.
- Can you share a time when you felt discriminated against? How did you handle it?
I recall being overlooked for a group project due to my gender in a male-dominated class. I addressed this by speaking to the individuals involved, explaining my qualifications, and reinforcing my ability to contribute effectively to the project.
- Have you ever felt that your background has impacted your experiences in education or work?
Yes, as a person of color, I have faced challenges that others might not experience. But it has also given me strength, resilience, and a unique perspective that I can bring to the workplace.
- Can you discuss how your background has prepared you for this job?
My background has given me a rich blend of experiences and skills. As an LGBTQ+ individual, I have learned the importance of empathy and understanding, which aids in my communication and teamwork skills.
- Have you faced any obstacles in your academic or professional career due to your identity?
Being a woman in a STEM field, I have faced occasional biases and stereotypes. However, these challenges have motivated me to work harder and prove my capabilities, and I believe they have made me a stronger professional.
- How have you overcome any language barriers in academic or professional settings?
English is not my first language, so I’ve faced challenges in that regard. However, I dedicated myself to learning the language proficiently and embraced these challenges as opportunities to grow.
- What do you believe is the most significant barrier to diversity in the workplace?
I believe a lack of understanding and unconscious bias can be significant barriers to diversity in the workplace. To overcome this, we need ongoing education, open conversation, and effective policies.
- How do you approach understanding a culture that is unfamiliar to you?
I believe it’s important to approach unfamiliar cultures with an open mind and a willingness to learn. I read, listen, ask questions, and engage in conversations to gain a deeper understanding.
- Have you ever been in a situation where your cultural background was a significant advantage?
In my previous role, my company was looking to expand into Latin American markets. Being fluent in Spanish and familiar with the culture, I was able to effectively communicate with our prospective partners and provide valuable insights, contributing to the success of the expansion.
- Can you describe a time when you experienced a cultural misunderstanding in the workplace? How did you resolve it?
Once, during a meeting with international colleagues, a cultural misunderstanding arose due to differences in business etiquette. I initiated a conversation to clarify the misunderstanding, and we agreed to share more about our cultures to avoid such issues in the future.
- How would you handle a situation where a colleague made an unintentionally offensive comment about your background?
I believe in addressing such situations constructively. I would explain to the colleague why their comment was offensive and suggest more appropriate ways to express their thoughts.
- What strengths do you think diversity brings to our work environment?
Diversity brings a variety of perspectives, fosters innovation, and promotes a broader understanding of our global customer base. It also creates a more inclusive environment where all employees can thrive.
- Can you share an example of how you’ve promoted diversity and inclusion outside of work or school?
I volunteered at a local community center, helping to organize multicultural events to promote understanding and collaboration among different cultural groups in our community.
- How have you acted as an ally for underrepresented groups?
I’ve been an active member of an allyship program at my college, where we focus on supporting underrepresented students, participating in workshops, and advocating for institutional changes to promote diversity and inclusion.
- Can you discuss a time when you challenged a bias or stereotype?
In a team project, one member assumed I would take a supporting role because I am a woman. I addressed the assumption by expressing my interest and capability to lead a part of the project, to which the team agreed.
- How have you used your experiences as a diverse individual to educate others?
I’ve taken the initiative to share my experiences and perspectives during class discussions, and have led sessions about cultural competence in my university’s mentorship program.
- How do you handle working with individuals who may not value diversity as much as you do?
In such scenarios, I try to lead by example, demonstrating the benefits of diversity through collaboration and communication. Additionally, I aim to engage them in conversations about diversity, helping them understand its importance in a respectful and patient manner.
- How has diversity played a role in shaping your goals?
Diversity has shaped my goals by teaching me the importance of inclusion and representation. It has encouraged me to seek opportunities in organizations that value these principles, and to strive for roles where I can contribute to making workplaces more inclusive.
- How do you believe diversity contributes to innovation?
Diversity contributes to innovation by bringing together different perspectives, experiences, and skills. This mix can lead to more creative problem-solving, better decision-making, and a broader range of ideas, all of which fuel innovation.
- Can you share a time when you adapted your own communication style to work more effectively with team members from a different cultural background?
While working on a multinational team project, I realized that some team members were more comfortable with indirect communication due to their cultural background. I adjusted my communication style to be more suggestive and less direct, which improved our collaboration and understanding.
- Can you share an instance where your understanding of a particular culture assisted you in your work with others?
During a project for a Chinese client, my understanding of Chinese business culture and etiquette—like valuing hierarchy and maintaining face—was instrumental. I could guide my team to communicate and negotiate effectively, fostering a successful business relationship.