Interviewers: who do you think you are?

I have just jumped aboard a thread on Twitter from someone explaining her worst interview experiences, ranging from being told that she would be bored in the role based on her previous experience and that her accent isn’t right for various reasons. But the worst one for me was that one company told her that they don’t normally consider hiring people ‘her age’ because women of her age normally want to start having babies. Can I get a collective UGH?! In this day and age, I thought that judging people on looks, voice/accent, age, gender and their future plans was behind us. Obviously I know it never fully will be, but I genuinely did not think that in publishing, this would still be brought up at an interview. And I am sure that many more of you have had similar experiences.

So here I am asking the question to interviewers: who do you think you are? And I will be following this with a list of things that you should not bring up in an interview and why.

  1. PROTECTED CHARACTERISTICS: aka age, gender, disability, etc. Why? Because it’s ILLEGAL to not hire somebody based on these things. If you simply cannot help yourself, then don’t ask their age. DONE.
  2. Babies/marriage/their non-work plans for the future. Why? Because it’s got nothing to do with you and might even cause upset. It is absolutely none of your business if somebody has future plans to get married, have children and retire at 35. It could also potentially upset somebody who has maybe been divorced, had a miscarriage, is struggling to or cannot have children. Be respectful of the potential things people may have gone through.
  3. Their marital status/sexuality. This one has come from another person in another industry. In the interview, he got asked whether he had a girlfriend. WHYYYY???? Now, why should you not bring it up? Because who cares? Is it going to affect his workload? You don’t know because you have never worked with him before. Is it going to affect his social life in and around work? This should not be your concern!
  4. Any direct questions about their home/personal lives, their friends, families, partners and relationships. If you want to find out if anything will affect their working life from home, then simply ask: “will you need any specific hours due to other commitments?” or questions along these lines. Why? Out of respect.
  5. Their accent. Why? RESPECT. It is so rude to insult somebody else’s accent just because you don’t like it. If they are interviewing for a sales role in a posh company, then I can see where it comes from, but you don’t have to directly tell them that their accent is ‘too’ anything for the job if it is not needed.

Respect… This is a BIIIIG thing in every industry. Typically, in publishing, women and men are mostly treated the same in lower level roles, however, respect is often not given from senior males to junior female candidates, and I do not know why. If you are interviewing somebody, then surely you want them to want to work for you regardless of whether they’re right for the role. You want them to come away with a positive experience to relay to more publishing hopefuls so you can get the best candidates possible applying for your vacancies.

Therefore, if you are disrespectful, especially in the world of publishing, it makes no sense to me. You know how small this industry is. We discuss everything at junior level; we know the gossip and drama at each company, which ones are nice to work for, which never to set foot in and which ones will and won’t pay well. So, it’s simple: respect everybody that you interview the way that they are respecting you. Remember, it is your personal reputation and the reputation of the company at stake if you say something to offend them. Remember this, and be wise.

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