How to Run an Inclusive Hiring Process

4 min readMar 4, 2022


By: Christina Gutierrez, Talent Acquisition Director, Cultivate

So, you’re growing your team — what’s the secret ingredient?

There are likely hundreds of thousands of articles thoughtfully put together to advise on best practices when it comes to recruiting for your organization. SURPRISE — here’s another one!

Cultivate is passionate about hiring, training, and retaining diverse talent in the social impact space. Say that three times fast! We take a human-centered approach to our work, recognizing that humans are dynamic individuals with endless combinations of lived and professional experiences. How do we tap into that, while at the same time, put the work into understanding how those experiences might set someone up for the next stage in their career?

It’s simple. KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Recently, Cultivate had the opportunity to partner with Instituto, an organization committed to building sustained political power with low-income and communities of color in Arizona, a critical battleground state. This partnership was created to bring on an integral position for the Instituto team — their very first Executive Director.

What did we set out to do from the very beginning of this search?

  1. Create a timeline to move candidates through the process in 4–8 weeks, at most. We built out a timeline that we each committed to, holding ourselves accountable to the big picture, working backwards on how we were going to get there. How many times have you experienced, as a candidate or a hiring manager, that several weeks have gone by and there’s no update on either side of the process? Setting the goal posts at the start of the process allows for all participants, from candidate to interviewer, to know what to expect along the way.
  2. Write an inclusive job description. Are you asking for a shimmering unicorn? Truth is, you probably are. Start with the foundation that your future employee must be able to lay down. Have you ever been camping, or had to make a pillow fort? If so, you know that there are four pillars you need to hold everything else up. What are the pillars for this position? How can you evaluate qualified candidates with those pillars in mind? How can you be flexible and think of trade-offs in experience?
  3. Prepare to address imposter syndrome in candidates you’re excited to invite to your process. The loose definition of imposter syndrome is, doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. This can particularly affect women and people of color who may find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Instead of waiting for potential candidates to overflow your talent pool, proactively identify and seek out the ideal profiles for your search and invite them to apply. Once you’ve begun interviewing, take the opportunity to share the reasons you see their experience as a great fit. You’re your candidates’ greatest champion so encourage them to own their accomplishments and expertise throughout the interview process. We created a strategy for our interactions to be personable, while also executing at scale. That personal touch goes a LONG way. Recruiting is a two-way street; court your candidates and let them feel that they’re appreciated — because they are!
  4. Establish psychological safety with your candidates, making them comfortable about considering leaving their current role. Have you done your part in sharing WHO you are to prospective candidates? Again, recruiting is a two-way street. Talented folx are looking for a place to call home, not for a place to punch in and punch out. What is the driving factor that your next recruit should know? Instituto had a GREAT idea for future processes; create a two-minute video outlining who is who, what you’re excited about, and why a candidate should CHOOSE you. Are you “talking shop,” or are you communicating in an inclusive manner? Too often, especially in the advocacy space, jargon makes its way into the picture and excludes many individuals who may not know what “X” means in your organization. Be clear in what you’re looking for. GIVE THEM THE INGREDIENTS TO THE SECRET SAUCE! Define the terms you are using and share informational documents prior to the interview process so that they can better understand your work and what you’re looking to see in their interview.
  5. Compensate candidates for exercises. The exercise phase provides insightful information for the hiring team, as well as your prospective new employee. This stage also requires additional mental rigor. Candidates are excited to demonstrate their unique skills in another format than the expected back-and-forth of the question and answer setting of an interview.

There are still not a lot of organizations who acknowledge that there is monetary value to the work a candidate completes through this part of the recruitment process. However, candidates from this search were impressed and felt respected for the stipend Instituto offered upon completion of the exercise. This does not only show that Intituto valued their time, it also showed that they understood that there may be other accommodations their candidates may need to make in order to complete the exercise,. iIt also increases the perception of value of the work, resulting in higher likelihood of completing the exercise on time and higher quality work.

At the core, what’s most important is remembering that this isn’t science; recruiting is an art. Connect the opportunity to your potential candidates. They’ll then be set up to connect with you beyond a transactional interview.

There are many more areas we could touch on, which we will do in the future, but these elements made for an incredibly successful process with Instituto and can be replicated at your organization as you look to run your next recruitment process.

We’re excited to share that Instituto’s very FIRST Executive Director will be joining in the coming weeks. We look forward to seeing the continued success of this great organization and all of the impact that is to come.




Cultivate is a career development hub for progressives.