Are you a multicultural job seeker, a military veteran or have some type of disability? While the answer is more likely to be “yes” than ever before, and more employers have strong commitments to diversity and inclusion in their workforce, there can still be some challenges in the interview process for candidates who may feel “different”.
Here are ten tips for interview success:
- Make eye contact. U.S. employers expect a direct gaze, along with a firm (not bone-crushing) handshake. If you were raised to consider direct eye contact rude, you may have to practice.
- Bragging rights? Job hunting in the United States requires self-promotion, which feels distasteful to some. We recommend learning how to promote your abilities through telling specific, factual stories from your experience, concisely and confidently.
- Tell your stories. Before an interview, come up with six to eight examples of times you have done a job well. What was the problem or issue, what did you do, and what was the result? Be very specific. These are your stories. Practice telling them, because they will provide strong answers to virtually all the questions an employer may ask.
- Focus on what you can do. If you have a disability, highlight your abilities first. If at all possible, wait to disclose your disability until you have demonstrated your ability. For example, one hearing-impaired candidate took the time to create strong cover letters for each application. While her phone skills were limited, prospective employers saw her exceptional written communication up front.
- Recently separated veteran? You may be speaking English but still have a language barrier. When you prepare your stories, translate any military ranks, acronyms, or jargon into the language of business.
- Keep it professional. If your cultural background emphasizes family and relationships, resist the temptation to talk about your family when asked about your greatest accomplishments.
- Get to the point. Avoid too much elaboration or detail in your stories. Some cultures tend to tell stories with a lot of detail, but the interviewer is not likely to take more time for the interview than is scheduled. You may find yourself interrupted mid-story if you go on too long.
- Well-seasoned? If you have held senior level positions in the past, be prepared to discuss why you want the job you’re interviewing for and why you’re not “overqualified”.
- Stay upbeat. You may have experienced discrimination in the past; yes, it stinks. Keep any resentment, bitterness, or negativity out of the interviews. To stay upbeat, associate with positive people and avoid gripe sessions.
- Seek out the best. One way to find an employer who appreciates your diverse perspective is to focus your search on award-winning employers who have track records of diversity initiatives or awards. Here are just a few examples:
About the Author
Lee Vikre – Hiring Jedi
A workplace culture maven, writer, and speaker, Lee Vikre has helped numerous companies develop “best company” cultures, gaining recognition at the local and national level. Lee has been called the Jedi Master of hiring because of her exceptional recruiting abilities and friendships with people who love Star Wars. Her favorite activities involve matching people with their dream jobs at award-winning best companies. Lee coaches CEOs but still hasn’t been able to train her three dogs not to bark during conference calls.