20 Interview Questions I Wish I’d Been Able to Ask, Part 1
An alternate reality to help global majority people discover safe work spaces
Going through the job interview process can be stressful for global majority people, especially when there are multiple interview rounds and not a face that looks like yours at any of them.
In addition to the normal stress that every interviewee goes through, you’re likely to face the double-take as you walk through the door (maybe less so now that prospective employers can find you on LinkedIn, but it still isn’t gone).
And there could be an unusual level of questioning about your birth, nationality, qualifications and right to be there. (I’m not making this up; it’s happened to me more than once, and I know it’s happened to others, too including President Obama).
Even if you get the job, there’s no guarantee it will be a safe space for you to work.
But what if you could use the interview process to find out what you really need to know as a global majority person? You might not get the job, but you’d be a whole lot clearer about whether it was the right workplace for you.
I know this will probably never happen, but here are some of the questions I wish I’d asked. (This is part one of a two part series.)
1. Why aren’t there any people who look like me on the interview panel?
Almost every Black or brown person I know has walked into an interview room and seen a sea of white faces staring back at them. It can be overwhelming, especially if you get the double take at the start that lets you know you don’t fit in.
Related reading: The Double Take
2. Why is this the right place for me to work?
Most people can relate to taking jobs and finding out that the environment they presented is not the environment that exists. That goes double for global majority people who can easily find themselves in spaces where they are not valued or appreciated.
3. What are you doing to make it a safe space for people who look like me?
Here, I’d really like to know about your company’s anti-racism policy and how it’s enforced. If you have one, that’s already a plus, but if it’s just words on paper, then this is probably not a good place for me to be.
Related reading: Oh, The Gaslighting
4. How many people that look like me work here?
Being the sole Black employee can be lonely and isolating. It would be good to know there are a few more global majority people around so we can be ourselves at some point in the day. That said, don’t try to gaslight me by falsifying your numbers.
Related reading: The Loneliness of the Sole Black Employee
5. Am I going to be able to get in the door of the building without being stopped every single time?
Sometimes that feeling that you don’t belong starts before you get into work, when the security guard appears not to recognize or trust you, and takes extra time ensuring you’re not a threat.