Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 5 seconds
I once interviewed for a company where the interviewer’s goal seemed to be to bang off every single illegal job interview question in one sitting. Have a gander at this list.
“How old are you?”
“Are you married?”
“Do you guys have kids? Are you going to?”
“Are you from Canada?”
The questions themselves seem harmless enough, almost as though someone is taking a personal, neighborly interest in you. However, it’d be incredibly naive to take them as anything other than a blatant attempt at discrimination. It was one of those moments where you’re answering the questions without hesitation because you’re young, dumb, and desperate for a job. Those questions, those grabs at finding a reason to deny my application should have been taken as a major red flag for what was to come, but again, young and dumb.
Female applicants were more likely to report being asked about their desire to have a family than male applicants (32% vs. 3%, respectively, p = 0.041)… gender discrimination in the residency interview has not been eradicated… Community and academic programs appear to ask similar numbers and types of potentially illegal questions.Hessel, Kara, et al. “Have We Come as Far as We Had Hoped? Discrimination in the Residency Interview.” Journal of Surgical Education, vol. 74, no. 6, 2017, pp. 939–945., doi:10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.04.003.
We know that women are far more likely to be asked illegal questions in job interviews than men. And in my case, asked outright, with no sugar-coating or hiding behind flowery words. And the person interviewing me was a woman as well (!), which gave it even more of a what the hell factor.
I’m saving the best for last though. That by far was not the worst question I was asked.
It started off innocent enough. “Do you have any siblings?” I’m sort of 50/50 on whether I answer this in a grey zone, or if I’m completely honest. Sometimes you just don’t want to get into having lost your only sibling with a total stranger. On this day though, I chose to be candid.
I explained to the interviewer that yes, I have a brother, but unfortunately had lost him in an aviation related accident.
She stared at me, and without skipping a beat or expressing an ounce of sympathy said, “Well, will this affect how you work? Will that happen to you?”
Just, what. The. Heck.
How can someone, a stranger no less, without knowing any information or details surrounding my little brother’s accident, ask me if I was going to have an accident too?
I don’t at all like to paint people, even seemingly insensitive people, with the same color brush. Labeling others on the first meeting can be a BIG detriment to yourself, as it closes you off from expanding your mindset and being open to having it challenged. But you do have to wonder, what life experiences has this woman had to make her so uncaring? What happened to make her a person who so blatantly disregards the same laws that this country has put into place to protect women such as herself?
I suppose we’ll never really know the answer. My lesson was learned: cheer on and support the companies that avoid dabbling in the wrong side of the law, and who conduct far more professional interviews. Be an advocate for women and men in the industry, teaching them what they do and do not have to tolerate in order to get, or keep, a job.
Those companies and chief pilots are out there – and man are they awesome! God bless ’em.
As always, big THANK YOU to those reading! Slap me with a comment down below, I absolutely adore reading through them.