16 Nov My Job Interview and Unconscious Bias
I went for a job interview today. Some of you reading this might be thinking “What?! You only just set up your business, give it a chance!” and it is exactly because I want to give my business a chance that I am doing it. I have applied for a Christmas retail job in a local supermarket because having a bit of extra cash will help me to keep things afloat whilst I continue to grow my business.
I have many nostalgic memories of my weekend and holiday jobs when I was studying and I pretty much tried my hand at everything from cleaning, waitressing and bar work to the pièce de résistance of working in the Lighting Department of BHS, a retail institution sadly no longer with us.
Finding casual work was easy; I was a student and it was clear to employers that my only agenda was to earn some cash to bolster my funds until I left university.
Is this very different to me today? Whilst I may not be blowing my hard earned tenners on a Friday night down the Student Union Bar, I do still have a clear agenda, and finding part time and casual work is proving to be so much harder. Here is why:
The unconscious biases that we all carry
My job application was also an experiment. And yes, whilst it is a temporary Christmas job I wanted to see if my skills and qualifications would hinder me because biases can work in many different ways.
With this in mind, here are four questions for you to consider:
- Are you aware of the biases that you have when interacting with other people?
- Have you thought about the impact your biases have on how you behave and how you make decisions?
- Have you considered how your biases could become barriers to your success?
- How open are you to the ideas and perspectives of others?
In collaboration with Curious Minds Consulting, I have created a suite of Diversity programmes that help you to tackle these questions. If you are interested in finding out more about how to become more self aware and to challenge your biases in a creative way, click here. You can also contact me directly.
A final gift. Check out this short TEDx talk by Kristen Pressner on gender bias and how to flip it to test it. Thought provoking stuff.
P.S. I will let you know if I get the job!
So did I get the job? You betcha!
The interview itself was an interesting experience. It was a series of standard questions along the lines of “tell me about a time when….” to delve deeper into how a person would deal with any given situation. As a facilitator you tend to see it all and you have to handle everything in the moment; very quickly it was clear that I was ‘over qualified’. It caused me to wonder if this would be where some biases could kick in so I asked a question to test things out:
“How often do you see people from the corporate world applying for jobs at a supermarket?”
The answer was eye opening. My interviewer said that historically it was very rare, with candidates mainly coming from student and return to work groups. She said she had noticed in the past year that more people were leaving corporates, setting up their own businesses and applying for supplemental jobs. Of course, what she said is empirical, but it caused me to do my own swift personal bias check.
I have my induction on Saturday and I am really looking forward to meeting my new fellow colleagues and discovering their backgrounds. We all know that diversity makes for a richer and more rewarding workplace.
If any of you are interested, I now have a job at Morrisons. I will be working part time on the customer service desk in the Horndean branch. If any of you shop at that particular store and see me manning the desk, come over and introduce yourselves, it is always great to meet in person!