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Inclusive Hiring Checklist

Hiring new employees is the single most important decision you will make as a supervisor, knowing that Pepperdine will only ever be as good as those who work towards its mission every day. Human Resources seeks to empower and equip supervisors to hire the very best person, holistically considering skill level, mission fit, and the goal of creating a diverse workforce.

Creating equal opportunity for applicants and promoting a diverse workforce are priorities driven by Pepperdine's Christian mission. As Richard T. Hughes reminds us in his lecture The Idea of a Christian University, "We cannot serve Jesus without serving the diversity of peoples and cultures that abound in our world." As you seek to add to the University's unique and diverse community through hiring, the following checklist has been prepared to help you ensure no one is alienated or excluded, and that all are welcomed in fairness, kindness, and a spirit of belonging.


❒ Understand Implicit Bias and Address Its Role in Decision Making

We all have biases. Shaped by our unique life experiences, our brain uses biases to simplify and speed up information processing. Implicit, or unconscious, bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect how we think, act, and make decisions without our direct awareness. Having these automatic biases doesn't make you a bad person, but taking the time to recognize them and be critical of them will help ensure you're treating everyone with dignity and respect. In order to better understand and combat the negative effects of implicit biases, please invest in the following resources below:


❒ Write a Position Description that Promotes Belonging and Inclusivity

Human Resources drafts the job posting directly from your position description. The language in the posting is what allows candidates to picture themselves in the role and at Pepperdine. We want to be mindful of ways we might be unintentionally unwelcoming to diverse talent. Consider the following as you draft or edit the position description before you begin recruiting:

  • Consider carefully what qualifications are absolutely required, and which ones are highly preferred, so as to not unnecessarily limit your applicant pool.
  • Be mindful of adjectives that may be stereotypically gender-coded or unwelcoming to diverse candidates. When describing the ideal candidate, consider what is actually necessary for the job, and avoid adjectives that may unnecessarily discourage qualified candidates from applying to your job. Avoid phrases like "young professional" and "recent graduate," and keep descriptions straightforward, simple, and concise.
  • Avoid gendered pronouns (for example, don't say "he" in the position description when referring to the successful candidate).
  • Emphasize Pepperdine's intimate community and the ways our Christian mission calls us to create a community of belonging and inclusivity.


❒ Expand Your Applicant Pool through Strategic Advertising

Human Resources partners with a third-party advertising agency to offer you strategic job advertisements at discounted rates. In addition to, Human Resources posts all open jobs at at no cost to you. In general, the more you advertise your position, the more diverse applicants will find your job.

  • Please contact Human Resources at 310-506-4397 or for a current list of quotes and strategic advertising opportunities to reach diverse applicants. You may also contact Human Resources to assess the overall diversity of your applicant pool at any time in the recruitment process.


❒ Include Diverse Views and Voices in Your Interview Process

While supervisors ultimately have the best knowledge of what a job requires, a key way to combat implicit bias and expand our inclusive community is to include other voices throughout your hiring process. Have colleagues look through resumes to see things you might have missed, and when interviewing candidates, be sure to include colleagues from different backgrounds than you. Consulting with different areas of the University can be a helpful way to ensure you are choosing the best candidate and helping to build a community of belonging.

  • If you are unsure about how to include different voices in your hiring process, please contact Human Resources for recommendations at 310-506-4397 or


❒ Ask Specific Interview Questions about Pepperdine's Mission, Community, and Belonging

Working at Pepperdine means having access to world-class opportunities, benefits, and facilities, in addition to being part of an intimate community committed to Christian hospitality and belonging. When interviewing candidates, be sure to emphasize the type of place Pepperdine is and the type of place we want to be, and ask targeted questions of each candidate to ensure they understand and long to contribute to our shared mission. Examples of interview questions that speak to community and belonging can be found below and in the Onboarding Kit:

  • How does the value of community and belonging connect with the University's Christian mission of strengthening the lives of students for purpose, service, and leadership?
  • How has your experience and background prepared you to be effective in this environment where people of all faiths, backgrounds, cultures, and creeds are welcome?
  • What do you see as the most challenging aspect of a diverse working environment? What steps have you taken to meet this challenge?
  • What kinds of experiences have you had working with others with different backgrounds than your own?
  • What does it mean to have a commitment to diversity and how would you develop and apply your commitment at this University?
  • What efforts have you made, or been involved with, to foster diversity competence and understanding? How have you applied what you have learned?
  • What strategies have you used to address diversity challenges? What were the positives and negatives?
  • What is your approach to understanding the perspectives of colleagues from diverse backgrounds?
  • How would you advocate for diversity, community, and belonging with colleagues who do not understand its importance?
  • Give an example of how you make your colleagues feel a sense of inclusion, belonging, and equity on a daily basis.
  • Describe a time where a project or decision that you made was enhanced by including diverse perspectives.
  • How do you challenge stereotypes and bias and promote inclusion?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you changed your style of work to more effectively communicate with a person from a different background?


❒ Be Careful to Avoid Discriminatory Interview Questions

When interviewing candidates, it is your responsibility to ensure each person is treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. In addition to this expectation that guides everything we do as supervisors, it is imperative to understand that "Pepperdine is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of any status or condition protected by applicable federal, state, or local law. Pepperdine is committed to providing a work environment free from all forms of harassment and discrimination. Engaging in unlawful discrimination or harassment will result in appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the University" (EEO Policy). Below is a quick guide of general questions and statements to include in the hiring process, as well as questions, statements, and discussions to carefully avoid:

  • DO ask candidates if they fully understand the job. Cover the duties this position is responsible for completing, focusing on the end product, not simply the way it is done now or has been done in the past. Discuss the quality, quantity, and timeliness of work that you will expect.
    • DO NOT ask candidates about their criminal history.
    • DO NOT ask candidates about their gender, marital status, or personal relationships.
    • DO NOT ask candidates about their national origin, surname, native language, race, ethnicity, skin color, or complexion.
    • DO NOT ask about the individual's workers' compensation history.
    • DO NOT ask about salary history (asking about salary expectations for this position is okay).
  • DO ask candidates if they can perform all job functions. If not, are they unable to perform an essential duty or a nonessential one? If candidates believe there may be problems related to disability, rely on their personal experience and ask if there is another way to accomplish the duties in question.
    • DO NOT ask candidates if they have a disability that will prevent them from performing the job.
    • DO NOT discuss the existence, nature, or severity of a candidate's physical or mental impairment, even when physical characteristics are apparent.
    • DO NOT discuss the progress of an illness, even if the individual volunteers information about a medical condition, its remission, or treatment.
  • DO suggest a tour of the work site if that would be helpful. Be aware of common areas that the individual may be interested in but may feel awkward asking about, such as the lunchroom and the restroom.
    • DO NOT commit to a reasonable accommodation on the spot. Accommodations must be discussed with Human Resources and General Counsel; these are approved by the organization rather than an individual supervisor.
  • DO state clearly your requirements for regular and reliable attendance, and all other relevant expectations.
    • DO NOT ask about candidates' health (mental or physical) or that of their family members, whether they will need to take leave for personal care or to care for someone in the family.
    • DO NOT discuss irrelevant details such as the individual's age, dependents, and other personal matters. Everything discussed should relate directly to the job and the candidates' specific qualifications for the job.
    • DO NOT ask if the candidate has had a drug or alcohol problem.
  • DO document the interview with enough details to be able to explain who said what to whom and reach out to Human Resources for advice and assistance, if necessary.


❒ Save Internet and Social Media Searches for the Final Stages of Recruitment

As a hiring best practice, Human Resources recommends doing a basic internet and social media search before extending an offer to a successful candidate, as most individuals leave a "cyber footprint" and publicly available information may reveal content that is inconsistent with the University's mission and values. Simply seeing an applicant's pictures, however, provides insight to their age, gender, race, and ethnicity. Therefore, in order to avoid discrimination and further curb negative effects of implicit bias, this important step should be left to the very final stage of the recruitment process and not completed until you are ready to extend an offer. Please note that while it is appropriate to check publicly viewable content on search engines and social media sites, you should never try to "connect" or "friend" applicants during the recruitment process.

  • If you have any concerns after conducting a basic internet and social media search, please contact Human Resources at 310-506-4397 or