The pay gap. Unfair bonus structures. Sexism’s impact on career progression. The media is talking about lots of different issues surrounding women in the workplace. So, is there anything you should be doing differently when interviewing women and men?
In some countries it’s normal for companies to specify whether they’re looking for both male and female candidates, but in the UK it’s a given. So, once your doors are open to potential candidates, the short answer is ‘no’ – you shouldn’t do anything differently whether it’s a man or a woman you’re meeting with. Gender should not influence your line of questioning, however there are ways that you can turn the tables on – and help quash- certain workplace stereotypes.
Do encourage them to be themselves
Women who are aware of gender differences within the workplace may be apprehensive to let their true personality show through, as a safeguard against perpetuating stereotypes of emotionality or talkativeness. Encourage a free speaking environment – put candidates at ease and give them the space to respond to questions naturally, and with passion.
Do let them brag
“Women have the tendency to wait to be discovered,” Gail Blanke of Lifedesigns career coaching stated in a 2008 Forbes article. By this, she was commenting on women’s tendency towards modesty. In comparison, men are more likely to steam ahead and list their achievements. Encourage your female candidates to do the same by asking questions such as, “what have been your biggest career achievements to date?”
Don’t ask about family
Asking directly about children, pregnancy or plans to take time off for childcare is a big no no in terms of political correctness and politeness. Whilst you may be looking to find out whether your potential hire is likely to be asking for time off in the near future, you should steer away from asking directly about these issues. At the end of the day, women are forced to either choose between, or juggle, procreation and a career. That’s one less struggle than men usually have to contend with, so you shouldn’t be adding to the burden by bringing the issue up in interview. Assess a woman for her suitability, not how likely she is to want children within the next three years. If you’re looking to find out whether any candidate has childcare to take into account, ask questions such as , “is there anything which may impact your ability to commit a full working day?”. After all, your candidate’s ability to do the job in question is all you should really be worried about at this stage.
Do ask about career aspirations
With any candidate, you should aim to assess how motivated an individual is to succeed within their immediate role, and later on in their career. Women and men are equally motivated to do well, but reports have shown that in some organisations there can be less opportunities for women to move up the ranks. Find out what makes your candidate tick, and hash out with them whether their career plans are aligned with what your company has to offer. Once on board, ensure that you’re promoting opportunities for growth and training in both your male and female work force.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
Women have so many more choices than men when it comes to their wardrobe, and either they care about the latest fashions or they don’t. Quite frankly, the world of fashion is perceived to be full of pitfalls, and both women and men are quick to make assumptions based on outfit choices. Never discriminate against a woman for looking – or not looking – a certain way. As long as they show up to the interview smart and clean you should suspend judgement until you have fully discussed their relevance for the job. The same goes for men.
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