Women & Interviews

Ain't No Personnel Jockey
By Cecilia Brennan

Women & Interviews
Chat Transcript
Beyond The Trick Question
A Lawyer's Adventures
Career Basics For Women
Career Matchmaking
Ms. Xecutive Holds Forth
Ain't No Personnel Jockey
Recruiter's Point of View
Brassy, Foolish Dames
Ask The Headhunter

I've been in the Human Resources field for about twelve years. My areas of specialty are Employee Relations and Recruitment.

Since the birth of my daughter (five years ago), I've been taking on part-time, temporary recruitment assignments at a variety of organizations. I've hired people in financial services, retail, publishing/information services and medical device manufacturing, so I've encountered all types at all levels.

Naturally, being a trained Human Resources professional, it doesn't matter to me whether candidates are male, female, orange or purple - -as long as they are qualified to do the job and can prove to me that they can do the job.

Of course, some candidates have the "knack" of interviewing and can do it well. My philosophy is be yourself, and tell the truth. If you are a woman, and competing with a lot of men for a job, you may feel that you must be more aggressive. Again, my view is that you should be yourself.

Part of what an interviewer looks for in a candidate is how a candidate will "fit" into the organization. As a candidate, do your philosophies match those of management? Do you agree with the company's mission? Will you get along with the other members of the department? If you "act" a certain way in the interview, you may not give the interviewer the right impression. I don't know how many times a hiring manager has come to me after we've hired someone and said "This isn't the same person that I interviewed." You need to show the interviewer if and how you can do the job. You can read Nick's book to learn how to do that. Concentrate on conveying your qualifications, not your gender.

Unfortunately, many hiring managers are not formally trained in interviewing techniques. You may still encounter managers who will ask if you have childcare arrangements, whether you will be having a baby any time soon, or what your husband does for a living. Often the candidate is so flabbergasted by this line of questioning that the candidate is tricked into answering them.

Don't! The answers to these questions have no bearing on whether you are qualified for the job, or if you can do the job. I recommend that you respectfully ask the interviewer if he or she will clarify how the answers to those questions will prove that you can do the job. After all, if these answers are a factor in the hiring decision, you don't want to work there anyway.

I'd like to share with you my own experiences when I've been job-hunting. In five years as a consultant, I've always found my own jobs for myself without the help of headhunters. I have always started a new job immediately after the last. I've never been "on the beach," waiting for something to come along. In fact, I have even had to overlap my assignments. [Bear in mind that Cecilia works as a contractor, not a permanent employee. -- Nick]

How do I always have a "next job" waiting in such a tough job market? I never forget a face, and I keep in contact with almost every person I've worked with in the past. Some people call this networking, I just call it good business.

I never stop networking. I got my last assignment while walking the hospital halls in labor with my second child. I saw a woman who looked familiar to me. It turns out I rode the train with her. She was pregnant, too. We got to talking in the hospital halls, between contractions of course, and it turned out that she, too, was in Human Resources. We went to the same college and lived around the corner from one another. Weird!! Anyway, we kept in touch, and about a year later she called me with a recruiting assignment that has been very rewarding and long lasting. The moral of this crazy story is: Don't be shy, and never forget a face.

Feel free to drop me a note at ckBrennan@yahoo.com if I can be of any help.

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