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Here's the first in our series of tips for folks preparing for job interviews. This first set of tips will be useful a bit in advance, and will help you get into the right mindset as well. We know, though, that employers may be reading this as well, so you'll have the inside scoop.

  1. Do your homework. It’s not just the interviewer interviewing you. You’re also interviewing the organization. Make sure that you know your prospective employer as deeply as you can. Have you researched the organization, their mission, vision and what kind of impact they have? Review their website, their social media, and their publications. What do you really know about this organization as a workplace? Consider how this fits into the kind of work you hope to be doing, from the angle of the position you’re aspiring to fill. Go through the website as carefully as you can, looking closely at the staff page (with bios) to learn about how the organization is structured, and consider all of the various content you might uncover. See if they’ve been in the news lately, produced any publications or reports, or had recent success stories that you can reference in the interview. It shows you’re serious about the job, and on their end, it’s flattering to know that you put in the time to get to know them. This also helps to level the playing field psychologically, enabling you to come best prepared for dialogue. Bring an equity lens to your homework: What is visible to you, and what (or who) might be missing? What is, then, invisible? What do you need to learn in your interview that isn’t available via the website (providing you with an opportunity to ask in the interview)? Do some counting. Who do you see, and who do you not see? You may want to wonder about the makeup of the staff, the makeup of a volunteer board or council, and even whose voices are represented in testimonials and whose images are represented on the website.

  2. Review the job posting carefully. Note that many job postings are gigantic and edge toward job descriptions over simpler and clearer job listings, with lots of content that nods toward a detailed outline of goals and objectives and a fuller description of the portfolio. Many folks skip this review of the job posting in preparation for interviews, although it is useful for generating additional questions. Your review can then lead you to generating clear examples to offer in your interview. Bring an equity lens to your review by closely examining the language used, what qualifications are listed, or seem evident in the assumptions the employer is bringing and the specific skills necessary to get the job done. Recall that typically, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. Do you meet the qualifications, and does this matter?

  3. Get to know your interviewer. Make sure that you’re familiar with the person or people who will be interviewing you, and where they sit in the organization’s hierarchy, what role they play, their portfolio, and their tenure. This brings a relational lens to your interview, and helps you to locate your dialogue in the human story that is an important component of the interview process. Get to know them with a look at their bio on the organization’s website, or via LinkedIn, but don’t cyberstalk them. Your knowledge of this person will make a good impression, and help you to prepare for the interview, too. From an equity perspective, this human story is a vital part of building relational connection in every interview–not with just one or two of your favorite candidates. Modeling it for your interviewer helps you to weave this perspective into your work, and make it visible that a human and relational story is one of the important components of a holistic interview process.

Compiled by The Gender Equity Advocates Network

Longer-than-ever, more extensive and involved hiring processes. Layoffs, even where the unemployment rate is the lowest in years. The way we work is at odds with the kind of work we aspire to do and our workplaces are increasingly places of growing discontent, with an integrity gap between the way we aspire to be, and the kind of culture we’re creating. The work itself is meaningful, but the way we are building our workplaces, and welcoming employees into our workplaces, creates this powerful integrity gap. On one hand, we need to craft more effective boundaries between life and work. On the other, we want to create a more realistic work-life dynamic, shaping our workplaces into healthier, safer and more respectful spaces that enable us to flourish as people. We’ve moved past the Great Resignation (or the Great Attrition) into a new phase when the workplace and the job market is still not quite sure what it will be: we’re awaiting a sense of stability. Jobs are open, and folks are looking for new positions: everyone is seeking the right match, positions that can help them (both employers and employees) to grow, that have equitable, supportive and flexible workplace policies, with benefits that are comprehensive and competitive. And when interviewing, prospective employees are savvy, careful and looking for the best match possible.

Does any of this sound familiar? This may be you. Are you looking for a new position? Planning your next move? You’re likely doing so in a thoughtful, reflective process, gathering data and carefully examining and evaluating your options. And for the employers reading this, you may be interviewing candidates for a position and doing so in an equally thoughtful way. No matter what side of this process you represent, you want to approach your hiring process in a way that embraces and telegraphs equity.

Over the next six weeks, we’re going to share 3 tips each week to improve the interview experience for prospective employees. What helps you to show your best self to a prospective employer? We know, though, that employers will read this too–so we want them to read this and to take that process seriously, with an equity lens? Remember that this is a competitive market on all sides, and we all need to make sure we’re ready. Let’s do some of that work together. The good news is that interviewing is something under your control; it’s a skill you can learn, whether you are looking for a position or are hiring. Now let’s get started!

Updated: Aug 14

In each of our twelve (to date) Gender Equity Advocates cohorts, we invite our Advocates to reflect on their past experiences in job interviews and in the interview process. What went well? What didn’t go well? Many have experiences that are indelibly imprinted on their minds and in their hearts that have motivated them to improve the process for others–for good and for bad. Their responses–and yours–can help inform our future choices as we head into the hiring process, as employers, and as candidates. What do we want our interview experiences to be like? How do we want to tap into our candidates’ full potential as people, and at the same time preserve our commitment to equity and to an equitable process?

We start with aspirations.

What are questions that we wish we’d been asked in job interviews? These often tap into our hopes and dreams for dialogue with future or prospective employers, questions that allow us to tap into our best selves, or the selves that we hope to share with prospective employers. What side of ourselves might we like to shine? What work, skills or relationships would we like to emphasize? Employers rarely pause to think about the “user experience” in job interviews, of course, seeking to gather as much information about candidates as possible (and this is not an incorrect approach–just perhaps an incomplete one). Shifting to consider how a candidate might experience the process is valuable, and to considering their aspirations on the job and in the process may offer employers insight into the candidate, too.

What’s a question you wish you’d been asked in a job interview?

  • What kind of work environment do you want to work in? What workplace values matter most to you?

  • How might we help you to be most successful in this position?

  • How might we support you in balancing your life and work responsibilities? Or How can we support your ideal work/life dynamic?

  • We have saved time in this interview for you to ask us some questions. What can we share with you to help you better understand (our organization, this position, our workplace culture)?

  • What are you hoping to learn from your supervisor? What are you hoping your supervisory experience will look or feel like?

  • How are you best supported on the job? What is the best (management or supervisory) way to help you grow and succeed on the job?

  • Is there something that you feel strongly about doing in this role? About NOT doing?

  • What makes you work at your best and stimulate your interest?

  • What motivates you to succeed? What impedes your success?

Next, we release what hurts.

We also invite our Advocates to release the difficult, hurtful or damaging questions that they may have been asked in interviews–or asked themselves–and even the ones that have been illegal, offensive and biased or discriminatory. This is an important part of our process, as we invite ourselves to acknowledge and let go of these pain points on the way to developing more effective processes and language. Naming these questions and releasing them diminishes their power to harm. Note that none of these questions are actually drifting into categories that are illegal, but are ranging from very close to illegal to engaging deep biases or lines of questioning that are all inappropriate.

Share a hard (or bad) question that you have asked or have been asked that you want to release… and never hear again.

  • Do you have a rabbi who can serve as a reference for you?

  • Your name doesn’t sound Jewish. Did you convert?

  • So where are you from?

  • What are you?

  • Do you know my friend/colleague ___?

  • A lot of young people leave quickly; are you planning on sticking around for more than a year or two?

  • How do you feel about Israel?

  • I love your ____. Where did you buy it?

  • I love your accent. Where are you from?

  • How’s your health?

  • Why have you moved around so much?

  • Tell me about your family/spouse/children/parents/significant other.

  • This job involves multitasking. How do you handle multiple responsibilities?

  • We often require extra hours or late hours to get the job done. How flexible can you be?

  • What is it like to be (single/married/divorced/adopted/LGBTQ+/a person of color/part of any marginalized group)?

  • How would you describe your personality?

  • Who's your rabbi?

  • What's your favorite smell?

  • If you were a flavor of ice cream, what flavor would you be?

  • How are you planning to get to and from work?

  • What do you do for childcare?

  • Where did you go for vacation?

Last, we recall the good.

After a multi-layered process of learning about rubrics for evaluation, how to ask better questions, and why questions are a valuable tool for learning about candidates, our Gender Equity Advocates recall the good as they continue to pack their toolkit with the best questions they have heard in their own interviews. We invite Advocates to share the very best they’ve heard so that we can share from the excellence that lives in and across our field as we uncover resources and share them generously with one another.

Share the best question you’ve ever been asked in an interview.

  • Tell us about the boldest thing you’ve ever done.

  • Tell us about the journey you took when you developed/designed/created something new at work and it was ultimately successful. What made it so?

  • What do you expect from us as employers?

  • What type of professional development and personal learning are you looking for? What might we be able to offer you to help you grow on the job?

  • Share a professional challenge you experienced, and how you worked to resolve it.

  • Tell us about something you’re proud to have accomplished at work. What made you feel that pride? What can you learn from it?

  • How does this job fit into your long-term career goals? How might you have answered this a few years ago?

  • What job title would you use to describe this position, if not this one?

  • How might someone who has worked with you describe you? How might someone who has been supervised by you describe you?

  • Tell us something about you that we cannot learn just by looking at your resume.

  • What’s the best way we can get to know you? What’s the best way we can get to know you on the job?

Teaching our Advocates to use different kinds of questions to elicit different kinds of information is at the heart of our work, and helps us all to ask questions that are clear, measurable, and equitable. We want to ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no, questions that elevate dialogue and build relationships, but we also want to allow candidates to share insights into who they are so that we can assess their capacity to do the work, from a variety of perspectives and based on a variety of criteria.

Questions are only one component of a giant hiring process–and only one element of the interview, too. Use them wisely, and steer clear of illegal or inappropriate, hurtful or awkward questions that won’t get you the information you need to make effective and equitable hiring decisions.

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