Thursday, November 08, 2012

Getting the Job: Some Vital tips

I have been doing some work around employment and interview skills and I thought I’d share a few things. As we know, its getting tough beyond scary out there. Increasingly people are being asked to submit to tests upon tests, even for jobs which previously an interview panel decision was all that was required. A friend of mine recently went for a role (entry level), which required 2 aptitude tests, 2 written tests, a role play, and after this first stage an interview panel lasting over 5 hours in total (and it was for a job that didn’t even promise a contract at the end!)

I dont think these two will ever need to look for a day job!

It's an employers market at this point and employs are taking as many liberties as they can for instance merging jobs that have historically stood separately (an example is administration and finance), and requiring applicants to be able to carry out both roles under one job description (which has a big impact on those who work as purely administrators).

Any a few tips for the job seekers among us:

Never go before a panel without a blank piece of paper and pen to write so that you can jot down each question and do justice to it and also obey a hierarchy in detailing your points if such is necessary for the question. Many of us walk into an interview and attempt to answer questions as we generate answers off the top of our heads. The result is likely to be that you do not do justice to the question as you may forget key points if relying on memory alone or forget the question itself midway and start waffling-which doesn't look too good. Looking at a questions gives you that added dimension of analysis and ability to collect your thoughts and organize your thinking. Remember the interviewer might not encourage you to say more but later they will check their notes and say, “Candidate A didn’t talk about this and this in her answer.”

Also If you are a person who jots and writes frequently etc this helps you to stimulate the brain in a way that gets you thinking clearly and creatively. Most panellist will admire your attempt to organise your response and do it justice and you will appear efficient. Humans at this stage tend to reserve very little in short term memory as opposed to our ancestors (our world is crowded with data), therefore writing can help as a repository that can free up brain circuitries for thinking and composing thought during an interview.

Eat a slow release food before an interview

I have sometimes gone to interviews lasting an hour. At the end your brain can shut down from lack of energy. I force myself to eat 2 bananas before hand, because I will draw on the energy to keep my brain sparking and turning during the interview time. I am usually drained after the interview to tell you that amping myself up to the place of high performance really takes it out of one!

You can improve verbal and numerical skills

Don’t appear for a test without putting a few hours into studying aptitude tests (use books and even online). Aim to do 2-3 hours practice, it makes all the difference! Many people think you either know or don’t know or are good or not good with numerical and verbal reasoning etc. This is so wrong. Your scores improve the more you study.

Finish your point, don’t be distracted by, positive noises and nodding from the panel

Many of us rely on the feedback from the interview panel to know when we have said enough on a point. This is not a good strategy. Instead complete what you hope to say under any question. Don’t get into a false sense of security and truncate your answer because of positive feedback. When they check their notes to score candidates, they will say (as I noted before), “She didn’t mention much on question so and so.” So don’t think a positive noise means 'I have that question wrapped up!'

Pray to have an all male or a male dominated panel if you are a woman

There is a reason why women are numerically more than men and yet are even to this day and age 'social minorities' and an oppressed group. Women and their attitude to other women and the things they do to undermine and undercut other women is a key factor in women's undoing and the net effect is that women continue to, as a group, be kept beneath.

If men set forth the dictates of female oppression, it is women who reinforce it, who keep it going -even when the men are open to change- and who are the self-appointed agents that inflict the wounds of the discriminatory system on other women. That’s why I am beginning to lean more towards the idea that we need to broaden our notions of female oppression beyond, 'Its the patriarchy'. Women inflict more social damage on other women and we know they often partake if not spearhead all sorts of bodily integrity violations on their daughters, nieces and other females in their vicinity, including in the area of Female Genital Mutilation, child abuse, domestic and sexual enslavement.

See how it works: if a woman opposes other women at the entry level then fewer women get through. Fewer then go on to middle management. Ultimately it's a number issue because senior management – which is normally selected from middle management- can only then pick from among a work team that is now overwhelmingly male.

It is the woman panellist that will point to the flaws that the males have overlooked in the female applicant. Under the guise of being thorough and 'selecting the best candidate for the job', they will nitpick at the female candidate and magnify their shortcomings. In the end they may be able to convince the males that there is a huge big issue with the female candidate or they will refuse to be won over by the strong arguments in favour of the candidate by other panellists even if they are in the minority, forcing the other panellist to let go to safeguard their working relationship. Very few candidates are seen to be worth rancour in the group.

Have you noticed that we can freely talk about how men salivate over big boobed applicants or how they want to employ the young nubile applicants over the matronly woman with far better qualifications. Yet we cannot talk openly about how women undercut fellow women and raise objections to their employment and even promotion because they are threatened by the woman's looks or put in other words the woman’s sexual capital compared to themselves.

So women have a neat cover, because for one no one dares talk about it (its just too icky a topic) and two no one wants to accuse women (the fair and fragrant sex) of ever being capable of instincts so low and shameful (yet we know it happens and have either experienced it or heard of a woman who has.) Add race to the situation and you can just imagine what black women experience!

The trouble is, that by not confronting the issue and airing it in HR circles and recruitment training, few women have the chance to self-reflect which is often what it takes to abjure such behavior and rethink the whole attitude if you recognise it in yourself.

You know how when you make up, you are told to 'highlight' you best features and all that, well my suggestion is to go more for bland with interview make-up and nuetral (as opposed to knock 'em dead) with personal presentation, and don’t throw too much attention on features that might make women feel threatened. I do sometimes worry about what element of my dress or clothing might set women off when I attend interviews, however often it is self-confidence and the fact that it might be lacking in the female interviewer that seems to be the issue.

If you don’t have an all female panel, not to worry, I just thought I'd add that little bit of information!

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Zabeth said...

Have you read the book “Woman’s Inhumanity To Woman”? I started it but couldn’t finish it- it made me too angry.

Neecy said...

Wow it is so interesting how you just posted this and my friend just went through this very thing where a woman completely cut her out from moving forward in the hiring process.

My friend who is half cuban/half Italian is a very attractive woman (she almost looks like Kim kardashian). She dresses very feminine and often receives positive male attention. But she is also very smart and down to earth.

Well a recruiter told her about a position. She had to do a 3rd party phone interview first - which she passed. Then she was set up with a face to face with the hiring manager whom she'd be working for in the sales territory.

She called me after her interview with so much joy! She said how she and this manager had hit it off extremely well and he immediatley told her he wanted to move her onto the next step in the process.

This guy was a young and attractive guy who was pretty new on the management team (less than a year) told her about how he had moved up in the company to a management position and how well his team has been doing and how the position open was b/c he had just promoted one of his team members to a management position.

she said she had never had such great positive feedback and a wonderful interview. He was already telling her how she would fit well with the team and everything. So he actually called the recruiter and gave the recruiter all this wonderful feedback on her and said she was one of the 3 people he was moving forward.

So the next interview was with he and another District manager who ran a different territory but was in close proximity.

AFter her interview, she called me and she was so upset. So I asked her what happened b/c she and the manager hit it off so well.

She said the other manager was another female around her age and this woman totally treated her like crap!

She said the woman immediatley sized her up and began asking her questions, then cutting her off. Asked her to do a role play and saw she at one point was looking at her watch. Then was asking her all of these questions that were more like being interrogated rather than interviewed. She said she kept looking over at the guy manager who just had this strange look on his face.

Basically she said she had such bad vibes from this other female manager interviewing her with the original guy who was gung ho about her.

Well lo and behold the recruiter calls her back that evening saying that "they were unsure about some things" and that the male manager would not tell him exactly what things those were.

She an I both know it was that female interview who put the nail in the coffin for her. Its really sickening how women act in the workforce when it comes to competition. That female manager saw a bright, and talented and VERY ATTRACTIVE woman her age as a THREAT and she made sure she did everything to see that she was dropped from moving forward and getting the job.

She was also jealous of the fact that this male manager gave her such glowing reviews b/c she said when she walked in the room the male manager smiled and said I told her how great you were!!

How does she get such rave reviews from the hiring manager to such horrible "reviews" on the second interview that included a female manager who treated her like crap.

IT's so sad and women will never really make any real strides until we first deal with our own issues against each other.

Very similar to saying Black males will never make real progress or be treated like equals and will face racism as long as they are racist against their own women and mistreat them.

Unknown said...

Halima, what you just said about how some women undercut other women is so on point! This is especially true among younger women or much moreso than with older women in the U.S. Bw used to be much more supportive of each other as women! I'm not sure what all caused this change and when.

I once took a graduate school course entitled: "Oppression and Third World People" and it was pointed out numerous times that oppressed people like women can be counted on to try to oppress others who they perceive as considered less-thans by those who are more powerful (men, in this case). So the anti-woman attitude of women towards other women may be due to women believing that there is great scarcity out there for the good things in life and/or trying to curry favor with men.

My youngest son pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago that women (of all groups) in his age group (mid-20s) are "vicious" and super critical towards each other in ways that shock him and his male friends. He said, for ex. that he and a couple of his male friends may be out socially and may meet up with a couple of women who "appear" to be friends, but if one of them goes to the bathroom or steps away, the other woman begins to chop down her friend. He said this is almost always the case. He said this always surprises him and his male friends because if males are buddies, male buddies are not like that. He said that a typical male will cut a woman much more slack than a typical woman will.

He said that this is amazing to him also because I--his mom--am a pro-woman type woman, so he expected other women to be the same way.

Also, the other day, I happened to say to another bw that a bw that we both know is very attractive. This other woman told me that it's odd for me to say that. I asked her why. She said she never hears other bw saying another bw is very attractive. SMH

ak said...

That sounds like a good book for me to read Zabeth!

All of these 'woman up against woman', 'overbearing, domineering man up against woman' issues and other issues that pollute already existing office politics make me so glad that I will soon be a qualified accountant who will one day soon do accounting for SMEs and do taxes within her own firm with a specialli selected 'sales person' *ahem* a la 'Muslim Bushido'!

Being my own boss is my ultimate dream!

There are crazy and stupid parallels between women purposely holding other women back in the workplace and black people holding back the progress of black businesses by never supporting them. The sillier, greedier, jealous women never stop to think that if there were more women at the board level of management in an organization, then more women could could help other women move up and can make an impact on their working environment and how it be acclimated for women's needs.

Just like how black people who complain about lack of jobs or job interviews because of racism or who worry about what would happen if all Affirmative Action and quotas were to stop who also mostly or never give black businesses their custom don't stop to think (or just don't care) that if more black businesses do well enough to grow and expand furhter and further or even start franchising that that can create more jobs for black people in large numbers with more hiring of other blacks. Duh!

I used to know of a lovely lady I met in NYC when I lived there who was tall, slim and very pretty who did some modeling years ago who had two Masters degrees and could speak English, French, Spanish, german, Italian, and some Arabic. She was half Sudanese and half Ethiopian and had a German boyfriend. She was once offered a job on the spot by a UN diplomat to work for him as his translator but she turned him down because she didn't like the UN because didn't agree with their political stance.

But anyway, she once told me that she went for an interview in NYC or somewhere in the US that had a WW interviewer and she told me that she could feel right away that she wasn't going to get the job because she sensed that the WW interviewer was intimidated by everything that this particular lady had to offer. I mean she does sound pretty amazing even to me! LOL Sure enough, the same interviewer told her that she didn't get the job or just wrote her off as the usual 'overqualified'. SMH

In my opinion, if you are what everybody wants to call too 'overqualified' to take on a job, then try to start your own business if you can!

Aura Borealis said...

As usual you hi the nail on the head Halima, great post.

Halima said...

Hi there Aura welcome to the BWE club! Glad to see you are in the Uk (I live in Middlesex). I tried to drop you a message on your blog but your word verification system seems to be playing up.

Aura Borealis said...

Why thankyou, you live in the UK super!, I feel like most of the BWE community seems to be based in the US, thanks for letting me know about my verification system, I'll have a look at that.

I've been reading your blog for sometime and wanted to start my own, I was just unsure where to start, I mean there's 101 issues that need discussing right and I feel like I'm a little bit too young and inexperienced in life to give advice on alot of the things BWE bloggers talk about. I guess I should just give myself time to grow and see where it goes and stick to subjects I feel comfortable with.

Many thanks for all your hard work, putting you on my blog roll :)

Pamela said...

I'm so glad I have not had this experience although I have heard horror stories like this from time to time. Until the last ten years or so the IT field here in the Tulsa area was dominated by men. IT WAS REALLY NICE. However I believe that had I stayed at my last contract I could have run into this because the staff was almost all female. My direct team was not like this but I suspect the manger of my manager was.

I have said this in other venues. Professional women (and men) will probably do better to do their own business if at all possible. This is what my husband and I are doing. Got tired of hearing of the overqualified aka too old aka you will show me up. Hopefully next year we will have two projects launched that will make money.

Halima, this is excellent information. If I was looking for work I would be praying that I am working around mostly men again. It was a lot more fun.