Face it or not we all know that certain discretion are illegal when hiring someone; religion, sex, age, etc. However we also know that there’s a real world and there’s a “perfect world” and in the real world those who interview you can often turn you down for a job based on things that aren’t legal to turn you down for.
Interviewers aren’t always on the up and up and have tricks they use to find out more information on you that could make or break the hiring deal. Here are just a few tricks of the trade.
When you step into an office you may see pictures all around; especially of what appears to be spouses and children. What you may not know is that those pictures of kids may not even be your interviewer’s children and in fact, may be a ploy to get him/her a little more personal information about your own personal life. For instance if you see a photo of children you may say something like “Oh, are those your kids? They’re so sweet” and this will open up a personal conversation for you to start talking about your kids. This instantly gives them the ability to find out if you have young kids, older kids, no kids, etc. How can this play badly for you? Simple, many interviewers do not want a parent, especially a mother, with young children. Why? Because you will undoubtedly be called in to school or daycare for sickness; therefore missing work. You’re going to be asking for an extra few hours here or there or a day off for when your kids have things like field trips or the Halloween parade, an early soccer games, etc.; to them that is a definite negative attribute on your list. Is that legal? No. Does it happen? You better believe it happens. So don’t fall into that trap and start talking family. They know they cannot ask if you have children right out and how old they are. It is discrimination.
Wearing that ring on your finger can be a negative attribute to an interviewer also. Women who enter the room with an engagement ring and not a wedding band instantly tell the interviewer that they will be, at some point in time, working on a wedding. An upcoming wedding means many things to an interviewer; you’re going to be preoccupied with this exciting moment in your life while preparing for it, you’re going to undoubtedly require time off for the wedding and honeymoon and you’re going to most probably be making personal calls throughout the day for things like catering questions, returning calls to the preacher, or checking on the cake. If your interviewer mentions your beautiful ring your best bet is to play it off as something very miniscule and say something like “Why thank you. We’re not rushing anything and don’t even have a date planned” or even “Thank you it’s been in my family for ages and I’ve worn it for years.” Better yet, don’t wear your engagement ring and the question won’t come up. They don’t need to know about your personal life and the less they know the better you are. Basically don’t give any information away about a wedding, engagement, or any type of action that will involve you needing time off.
Wedding bands on a young person who is applying for a job can also be a red flag to an interviewer. Generally speaking, if the person that’s being interviewed is just out of college and already married it means that family is probably a big thing to them. Chances are pretty good that they will be ready to start a family soon and that means maternity leave. Knowing that soon after hiring you there is a good chance you’re going to be entering your boss’ office to let him/her know that you’re going to need time off for maternity leave. Is this legal for them to do? Of course not, but they do it. Answer, take off the ring and enter the interview without them. Again, it’s none of their business what your personal status is and there are no laws stating you must tell them.
Age discrimination is illegal and surprisingly the majority of people hired in 2011 were over the age of 55. So the good news is that while being biased about older age when interviewing a potential employee has diminished, it also still happens. The funny part is that ageism actually happens on both ends of the spectrum. Older people are often viewed as not being as up on technology, not being as easy to retrain and stuck in their old ways; while younger people are also often viewed as having to take a lot of time, money and effort to train well only for them to obviously leave to move up in the world. How can you avoid this on both ends?
If you are an older person use phrases like “I’ve been gaining a lot of proficiency in the newest version of Microsoft Office (if this is something you use in your field) or I’ve spent my free time learning some new skills and show that you are not only willing to keep up with the times but you are proactive and already keeping up with the newest technologies of your field.
If you are a younger person try to use your sense of interest and willingness to not only learn but bring to the table information that you’ve recently learned. Make it a point to let them know you’re looking for someplace to fit in well and hopefully make a lifetime career out of it. This gives them the sense that you’re looking to stay in one place. Make them feel as though you’re looking for your sweet spot to grow with and grow the company with you.
What it comes down to is knowing that while discrimination is illegal it still happens and we all know it. Be one step ahead of the rest of the crowd and know some of these inside tricks that interviewers use. Go into the interview with confidence, don’t give up too much personal information, and beware of things you wear in to the interview (including your everyday jewelry like wedding bands and engagement rings).