Recruitment thought leader Jennifer Tardy shares how unwritten interview rules empower diversity recruitment

“Sharing unwritten interview rules is a best practice for diversity recruitment that can help level the playing field for all candidates. By being transparent, supportive, and communicative, recruiters can contribute to building a more inclusive and successful work environment where everyone has a chance to thrive.”

Jennifer Tardy
Recruitment thought leader & founder of Jennifer Tardy Consulting



I’ve found that the most exciting opportunities often arrive wrapped in the most unexpected packages when it comes to recruitment. Recently, I signed a book deal with McGraw-Hill Professional, a thrilling opportunity that led me to reflect on the parallels between the world of authorship and job seeking.

You see, becoming a best-selling author isn’t just about writing prowess. It’s a dance between two distinct skills: the ability to write well and the ability to sell well. 

Similarly, in the job market, success hinges on two key factors: the ability to do the job well and the ability to interview well. These intertwined skills, however, often come with their own set of unwritten rules.

By sharing the unwritten rules of your organization’s interview process, you can help candidates navigate potential biases and present themselves as strong contenders.

As we delve deeper into this article, I’ll explain the hidden biases in the interview process, provide practical tips to share these often overlooked guidelines, and discuss how recruiters can foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Unconscious bias & the hidden hurdles in the interview process

Try to imagine the job seeker community divided into 3 groups:

  • Group A: Candidates who interview well AND CAN do the work
  • Group B: Candidates who don’t interview well BUT CAN do the work
  • Group C: Candidates who interview well BUT CAN’T do the work

The secret to successful diversity hiring lies in identifying and nurturing group B. But at the same time, you have to remember that unconscious biases lurk in every corner of an organization’s interviewing standards. 

Recruiters can make a real difference by systematically unveiling the unwritten interview rules in your company by following these 3 steps:

  • Step #1: Identify the rules of your company’s interview process that are not traditionally discussed in the open. What are the expectations regarding punctuality, attire, conversation topics, eye contact, or demeanor? Reflect on these aspects and ask yourself, “What does it really take to land a job at my company besides meeting the qualifications?”
  • Step #2: Develop a one-pager or checklist outlining these unwritten rules. This document can serve as a guide for candidates, helping them better understand and prepare for the interview process.
  • Step #3: Share this information with all candidates before their interview with the hiring manager. Offering these insights levels the playing field for all candidates, especially those from historically underrepresented populations.

Top 5 examples of unwritten interview rules & tips

A Stanford Social Innovation Review article highlights that there are various unwritten and often unspoken factors that reflect biases. 

This can include dress and hairstyle standards favoring Western and white norms, communication expectations, increased scrutiny and penalties for black employees, and specific attitudes toward timeliness and work style.

We’ve laid out the theory, but how do we put it into action? If you’re interested in seeing a real-world example, consider how Amazon prepares its candidates for interviews

For now, let’s dive into 5 examples of unwritten rules to truly bring the above 3-step process to life.

  1. Punctuality: If it’s expected that candidates arrive 15 minutes early for their interview, include this information in your guide. A simple statement like “plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to give yourself time to settle in and prepare” can make a difference.
  2. Attire: If your organization has specific dress code expectations, such as wearing a three-piece suit or a skirt below the knees, be sure to mention this in your guide. Providing examples and even pictures can help candidates visualize the expected attire.
  3. Conversation topics: If there are particular topics that the hiring manager enjoys discussing or that demonstrate a candidate’s fit for the company culture, share this information with the candidates. For example, “Our hiring manager appreciates conversations about the latest industry trends or innovative ideas for improving processes.”
  4. Eye contact and demeanor: If maintaining eye contact throughout the interview is essential at your organization, include this in your guide. Similarly, if your company values a candidate who displays external enthusiasm and smiles during the interview, make sure to mention this as well.
  5. Follow-up: Inform candidates about the expected follow-up process, such as sending a thank-you email after the interview. Include a sample email template or some pointers on crafting a thoughtful message.

Sharing these interview rules and tips beforehand will ensure that your applicants will always remember your employer brand for a stellar candidate experience.

Remember that YOU have the power to help qualified candidates navigate unconscious biases and land great jobs. 

Of course, the decision to use the information you’re providing ultimately lies with the candidate. Some may opt to go into the interview without the playbook, and that’s okay. 

Sharing these undisclosed interview guidelines is a best practice for diversity recruitment that can help create an equal opportunity for all candidates.

Happy recruiting!


Jennifer Tardy

Jenn Tardy has been on a mission to help employers and job seekers reach their goals since 2004, driven by a passion to see increasing diversity make sense and cents. As a Recruitment Thought Leader, she established Jennifer Tardy Consulting (a.k.a. Team JTC) to enable employers to find, attract, engage, and hire more applicants from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Through her #HiringSuccess programs, she has empowered many organizations to talk openly about underrepresentation, remove inequalities from their hiring processes, and foster more inclusive work cultures.

As a Career Success Coach, Jenn has also equipped numerous job seekers to supercharge their careers and forge professional success. She has extensive knowledge of the hurdles and obstacles faced by women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, and individuals who identify as LGBTQ+. Through the #CareerSuccess program, Team JTC uses this vast expertise to help job seekers successfully overcome bias-driven hiring obstacles and access greater opportunities.

Based in Maryland, USA, Team JTC is an internationally known, award-winning firm that works with a range of DEIB consultants and career coaches to empower employers and job seekers alike. Jenn is renowned for her thought leadership and speaking engagements and holds several certifications in Human Resources and DEIB, including Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR), Certified Diversity Practitioner (CDP), Certified Diversity Executive (CDE), and DiSC Trainer Certification. She graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from Virginia Tech, is also a LinkedIn Top Voice, and serves as a Co-Chair within The Society for Diversity’s Careers & Collaboration community.