‘Come out, come out, wherever you are’ or so the saying goes – anywhere it seems but during a job interview.

An interview, by definition, is the opportunity for mutually interested individuals to view, or more specifically, to gain a glimpse of each other with a view to establishing a successful professional relationship. The word interview originates from the early 16th Century old French verb entrevoir which means ‘to glimpse’ or to ‘see imperfectly’ So, pedantically speaking, discussing only relevant aspects of your character and focussing on your relevant and applicable skills and not presenting a complete or ‘perfect’  image of yourself is, literally, the right thing to do.

‘Coming out’ at the best of times is never easy, so why should you have to go through the same pressure and stress each and every time you attend an interview, in addition to coping with the already high levels of stress and pressure associated with the interview process itself? The simple truth of the matter is – you don’t.

In order to put things back into perspective for a second, ask yourself these questions; does your sexuality affect your ability to do the job effectively and successfully? Is who you choose to date any concern or business of your interviewer? The answer will almost certainly be an emphatic NO.

As this article by Russell Kaltschmidt on www.gay.com points out  ‘Like coming out, interviewing is a process, and should be treated as such — so coming out in every interview is probably not an effective strategy.’  It takes time to develop a mutually respectful relationship and to choose the most appropriate time to discuss your personal life (if you choose to discuss it at all) and the first interview is never the best time to do so.

Of course, there will certainly be some people who feel as though they have to be completely, 100% honest and up-front from the outset and this level of honesty should be admired. However, if you are the type of person who would prefer to make your sexual orientation known, consider whether coming-out is relevant to the situation and whether it could be detrimental to you either getting the job or fitting in with the other employees or the culture of the company. If you believe that it maybe detrimental, ask yourself whether you would feel comfortable as an employee of a company who might be sexually discriminative or who cultivates and promotes homophobia. Before the interview, try to do as much research into the company as you can to try and gain as much information as possible specifically trying to gain an understanding of the ethical and social values of the company. This can be done by talking to people who might know of or about the company and through visiting the employer’s Web site (if they have one) Of course, if the company is quite small, this level of information might be difficult or even impossible to obtain. Undertaking ‘pre-interview research’ and asking questions during the interview can give you valuable information when considering if or when to mention your sexual orientation.

What should you do if your interviewer incorrectly assumes that you are heterosexual and refers to your ‘boyfriend’ (if you are female) or ‘girlfriend’ (if you’re male)? Unless you are comfortable with correcting their assumption right there and then, the recommended response would be to continue the conversation and refer generically to your ‘other half’ as your ‘partner’ or of course, if you aren’t in a relationship merely stating that you are single would be more than appropriate. This way, if the conversation is mentioned or referred to in the future, you cannot be viewed as having deliberately mislead or more seriously, directly lied thereby raising doubts over your honesty or integrity as a person. Equally, if the interviewer is as open-minded and conscientious as they should be, they should never assume your sexuality, let alone refer to it during an interview. However, as we are all too aware, we live in a far from perfect world and politically correct interview skills are not as commonplace as they should be.

If you are a gay person who is easily identifiable as gay (and by this I dont mean that you’re wearing a rainbow tie to the interview or working a Pink-style lesbian mohawk) but more specifically, your unique mannersims / physicality / dress-sense etc ensures that most interviewers can tell (or at least deduce) that you are gay; lucky you! All the hard work has been done for you and all that is left for you to do is to dazzle them with your inexhaustable list of skills and infinite charm. Easy.

Ultimately, the key to avoiding interview pitfalls as a gay interviewee is to be authentic to who you are as an individual – thereby in turn, you create a positive impression. You should never compromise yourself and you should make sure that you are well-prepared for any question that might arise. By anticipating questions that the interviewer might ask and practicing and commiting your answers to memory, appropriate responses (that exist as good indicators as to who you are, what inspires and motivates you and highlights the type of people/type of company you like to work with) can become powerful and influential tools. If you are ‘yourself ‘ in an interview, you are ‘out’ by default because you are being honest about who you are.

The best and most powerful tools in an interview are to be yourself, listen to your interviewer and to ask questions when you are given the opportunity; only then will you be able to evaluate wheher the role/company is for you and your interviewer will be able to correctly and fairly evaluate you.

Presumably, after all this good advice, combined with your own inimitable charisma (the type of charisma that only gays exude – call it a perk!) you will have nailed the interview and bagged your dream job. Just make sure you don’t walk in to the office on your first day singing Liza Minnelli show-tunes or recounting your drunken antics during Sydney Mardi Gras 2000.

Remember, there is a time and place for everything and the workplace is usually not EVER that place no matter how understanding your new boss might be.

 

 

 

 

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