by Sabina Rossignoli
Every job interview process can be divided in two: 1. the conversation taking place if you are interested in the job (or really need it); 2. the conversation taking place if you are NOT interested in the job but just curious (or don’t absolutely need it). When you face a sexist recruiter it is most times a destabilizing and uncomfortable experience. Here some tips in order to find a compromise situation between the desperate job-seeker (alternatively the masochist type) and the kamikaze (who won’t find a job if doesn’t shut up). You can still get the job without playing the game.
When thinking about recruitment processes a woman can easily be scared of being asked about her private life. Every recruiter would like to know whether you are going to be pregnant in the next six months, and many bosses will not secure your job contract for fear that you might some time soon be planning a pregnancy. Hence, avoid to talk about yourself and your personal plans. It is not allowed to ask personal questions and there is usually a way to avoid them. For instance change the topic by asking a question on the position, but never blame the questioner. Be creative, you still want that job, right?
But what can also happen is when recruiters become verbally aggressive. They explain such techniques by defending their need to test the candidate’s strength. In fact, there is no reason for being aggressive. When a recruiter tells you that you look good, for instance, it is not a compliment. The best way to react is to ignore the comment also by avoiding any facial expression of discomfort. If you are brave and you think you can’t be assessed by a sexist asshole, than you can return the compliment: “You however don’t look very good”, or “You look better in real life than on your LinkedIn profile picture too”, or even “You have a nice little bottom, baby”. Although we don’t want to propagate revengeful behavior, the situation might be worth returning the joke. Mind: only do this if you are NOT interested in the job.
In order to shock a female candidate, a male recruiter (sorry, it is a gross gender cliche but we need to be concise here and that’s the gender dynamics in most cases anyways) can also use sexual vocabulary in order to describe work-related situations. For instance, he might say that a negotiation requires a rape (but only a symbolical one!), or might say that selling their product is like having sex with it, or similar bullshit. In case you notice sex-related vocabulary in your interview, and you want to have the job, just keep swallowing. Not showing any surprise will confuse your interlocutor who is attempting to destabilize you through sexual harassment. If you don’t need the job, you might even try to explain him that rape is not a metaphor. Or you might unfold the reasons why your sexual life stays out of your office and why this is healthier. You might propose him to follow a therapy, or a seminar against sexism in the workplace (we have some of them ready!). That will teach him that harassing a candidate will not improve his business, on the contrary it will destroy the candidates’ self-esteem and performance.
But always ask yourself the question: do I want to work in such business culture?