How to Handle Discrimination During an Interview
By Linda Matias
Letís take a common complaint job seekers have regarding the job search
process: ďI applied for a position I qualified for and received an
interview. When the interviewer saw me, he looked disappointed and the
interview lasted only five minutes. Ultimately, I didnít get the job.Ē
This scenario can play out for a couple of reasons. The first: you
werenít properly dressed for the interview. For the sake of discussion,
letís assume you did. The second: the interviewer has someone in mind for
the position and is simply going through the motions of the interview
process. Since you have no control over that type of scenario, letís assume
thatís not the case. And the third: the interviewer expected someone
younger, older, prettier, healthy, or what have you. Based on that
expectation the interviewer loses interest in your qualifications. For the
sake of this article, weíll settle on the third option as the reason.
What can you do when you are faced with this situation?
When you are on an interview and you feel the interviewer is
discriminating against you in one way or another bring up the topic.
Yikes! Thatís a scary proposition. Actually say something to the
interviewer? That goes against sage advice. And yes, there is truth in that
statement. So tread lightly.
Never sound accusatory and say something like, ďAre you discriminating
against me?Ē The accusation will get you nowhere. Instead, opt for an honest
discussion. Say something like, ďI couldnít help but notice you looked
disappointed. Whatever reservations you may have about my candidacy, I would
like to point out the reasons I qualify for this position and would be a
great asset to your company.Ē Then spell out those reasons.
This is a tricky situation to address. There are drawbacks, including the
fact you may have assessed the situation incorrectly and unknowingly locked
yourself from further consideration. But if you truly feel that you are a
victim of discrimination, then you have nothing to lose and could possibly
gain a job.
Hereís why: most people are good, even some of those discriminating.
Chances are the interviewer is unwittingly placing too much value on your
outer appearance and doesnít realize it. When you bring up the topic, in a
nonthreatening and matter of fact way, the interviewer may take a step back
and examine any preconceived notions he had due to your appearance.
Or maybe not. But at least you have an opportunity to sell yourself than
if you simply left the interview without having a chance to talk about your
accomplishments. If the interviewer is decent, you opened an opportunity and
if the interviewer isnít then you didnít lose anything because you werenít
going to get the job anyway.
Linda Matias is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer who heads
CareerStrides.com resume service.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a resume quote. You
can also visit her website at