Tips to respond to biases of your potential employer in a job interview

Biases are prejudices that everyone has and are fueled by beliefs, perceptions, and feelings that could affect your hiring process.

11 de marzo de 2022
Foto: Pixabay
Foto: Pixabay

MEXICO CITY. When going to a job interview, people face a process in which they have to demonstrate that their skills and experiences are perfect for the position, but also, more times than they would like to admit, they face preconceived ideas - known as biases- by the interviewers, which generate unequal, unfair and even unsuccessful hiring.

In fact, biases show up long before a job interview; from the call or announcement of the vacancy to the selection of the people to interview. Mauricio Reynoso, general director of the Mexican Association of Human Resources Management AC, and Tania Arita, regional manager at ManpowerGroup's Talent Solutions, agreed on this in an interview with Dalia Empower.

Biases are unconscious and automatic evaluations or judgments about people, situations, or things. That is, they happen without people realizing they have them. There are different biases: gender, race, age, and physical appearance, among others. Most people have them and that generates a partial, stereotyped, and even misleading view of people. In the case of the labor market, that vision puts aside the skills and talents of job seekers, which affects their hiring and their professional success.

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Women are often the most vulnerable population in this regard. A woman is 30% less likely to be called for a job interview compared to a man with similar characteristics (7.7% of women against 10.9% of men), according to the report Do Women Have Fewer Opportunities to be Hired?, by Pompeu Fabra University.

During an interview, women are more often faced with questions about their life and personal plans such as motherhood, marital status, and other situations that the interviewer believes influence their performance simply because they are women. Because of this, Reynoso and Arita offered some advice on how to act if you detect this kind of attitude from the interviewer:

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1 Lose your fear

Before going to a job interview, be ready for questions of this type so as not to remain silent or omit these actions, and know how to respond. “Obviously, there are a lot of people who are afraid. I am afraid because they are interviewing me, and I am going to lose this chance. So, now that we are talking about women, women are very afraid in a job interview,” said Tania Arita from Manpower. She pointed out that some people are afraid of losing a job opportunity if they react or fight against these situations, but she warned that if a company shows that kind of organizational climate, working there would be very difficult and it would not be the most suitable space for them to perform professionally and grow.

"I know that a lot of people can react with fear and say: Well, I'm going to lose that chance. But when I give these training sessions I also tell them that if a company is asking you those questions now, imagine the hell it’s going to be for them once they’re inside,” she said.

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2 Point out the mistake

If you detect that the interviewer is biased due to gender, age, sexual orientation, social class, or any other reason, point out the error immediately. You could say that you’d rather not answer that question because it’s not related to your professional experience or your skills so that the person realizes their mistake, explains Arita. "As a candidate, you can at that moment state that you are being mistreated with some questions, or you can also close yourself off and not answer." That’s how you can block your interviewer.

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3 Report the attitude

Whether you didn’t take the step to point out the situation during the interview, or you did and the reaction wasn’t as you expected, you can report it to the managers or the company's ethics committee so that action can be taken.

"If you detect this kind of thing, you can choose not to confront the interviewer and report the situation to the corresponding ethics office of that company," said the director of Amedirh. If there is no such office in the organization, go to the head of human resources. The manager stated that many companies already have an inclusion and non-discrimination policy, so these types of complaints are encouraged.

The regional manager of Manpower Group said that these types of instances usually have complaint mailboxes on their website or telephone lines where you can file your case.

Also read: Changing unconscious biases, one impact at a time

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