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Discriminated Against in a Job Interview? Here’s What To Do.

age discriminationImagine sitting down for a job interview and the first thing you notice is the person interviewing you could have been your granddaughter. A bad sign? That’s yet to be determined.

Her first request is the age-old “Tell me about yourself…” So you begin to tell her about your experience in a non-profit religious organization and the value you offer. It’s brought up that your organization is known for supporting gay rights, and you can’t quite read the interviewer’s face to understand her reaction.

Then comes the inevitable question, “What’s your salary expectation?” Your current salary happens to be at the top of their salary range for this job. Again, her response is hard to read. After the interview, as you leave, you walk by the employee cafeteria and see very few women and almost no diverse ethnic minorities sitting at the tables.

Your thought leaving the interview? “I don’t have a chance!”

I often hear job seekers say the reason they didn’t get the job is discrimination. They explain their perceived discrimination issue – age, religious affiliation, race or sex/sexual orientation. Many even cry discrimination because their salary requirement is at the high end of what the organization is willing to consider.

Maybe you have experienced one or more of these discriminations. I had a Career Coaching client who actually went through this exact situation! What did they learn from the experience? Three things – and keep reading to see the surprising end of the story.

  1. Don’t make assumptions. Be careful not to jump to a conclusion unless you have facts. Sometimes if we have been discriminated against in the past, we bring those feelings and cautions into the interview. Be careful not to bring your fear upon yourself. Yes, discrimination is a real issue in the hiring process. But if it is real, it will take more than an interview to change the way people look at things. And think about this: you don’t want to work for an organization that discriminates anyway! Target organizations that publicly respect and value all human beings.
  2. Focus on your strengths. Know very clearly the value you bring to the interview, and you will have an inherent excitement about the interview. While it may be easy to focus on a list of things you don’t know or don’t do well, you must put that out of your mind. This is your moment, and you must confidently articulate what you do well. Remember – you are interviewing them, too! Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You won’t be happy in the long run.
  3. Move with intention. Be determined to find the right career fit! Brace yourself for a grind and begin looking for new connections. Create a circle of experts that do what you do – people you can trust to hold you accountable from using discrimination as a crutch. Plus, more jobs are obtained through connections like this than through applying for openings!

Remember the person I referenced who experienced all of these discriminations? They got the job! Looking back on the story, one could easily point out a number of potential discrimination points. But there were also many logical reasons to hire this person – and the worries about discrimination were out of their control anyway.

Her biggest takeaway was to focus on what you CAN control, and let the rest work itself out.