The Interview Process
All employers discriminate against people for various reasons. They do it everyday, and it’s all legal. How? Aren’t there laws against that? There are laws, but those laws can only control overt discrimination. Covert discrimination happens anyway, regardless of the law.
It’s called the interview process.
You’ve been careful. You haven’t revealed anything personal about yourself in your resume. No one looking at your resume can tell that you’re Afro-Asian, a single mom, over 45, living in a Poly-fidelitous household with three other adults (a group marriage), have a horrible credit record, and you’re practicing Chaos Wicca. You’re even using a mail drop so that the fact that you live in the less desirable part of town is covered up.
You’re references are impeccable. You’re qualifications perfect. You have all the training you could possibly need, and you have all the latest certifications, You are friendly, outgoing, hardworking. You are the model employee.
Your prospective employer has reviewed all the applicants, and it’s down to just three. He has called you for an interview, but first, you have to jump through a hoop: the employment application. This, and the interview, is where he will gather all the information he needs about you to make his decision. You’re careful about the application too, basically copying from your resume. You leave the age, marital status, and social security blanks blank, because those things are none of his business and he doesn’t need that social security number until he actually offers you the job.
The interview goes well, or so you think. You answered all the questions correctly, and gave a performance of the utmost professionalism. During the course of the interview you let a couple of things slip, but you were smart enough to leave all that Pentacle jewelry behind, so at least they don’t know that.
A week or so later, you get a letter in the mail saying that although you had superior qualifications, they went ahead and hired someone else. Good luck on your job search (you’ll need it).
What happened? You can guess by taking a look around the company:
There are black employees, but none in positions of responsibility, like the one you were applying for.
Someone noticed that bumper sticker on your car, the one that reads “My Other Car Is A Broom.” You might have noticed the Bible on your interviewers desk, or it may have just been an appointment book (a THICK appointment book).
You weren’t wearing a wedding band, but when he asked about your kids you proudly showed him the pictures.
Although you didn’t supply your social security number, he was able to get it, and your credit report over the internet. Having filed bankruptcy two years ago was not helpful. He also did a check of your email address via Google Groups. Seems you’ve revealed your whole life history over alt.religion.wicca and alt.polyamory. Your website and those links to “Loving More Magazine” and “The Witches Voice” were helpful to him in finding out a whole lot about you. Oh, you have only links to Celtic and Native American sites? All the fundys know that an interest in the Celts and Native Americans is just a cover up for occultism and devil worship.
Your references didn’t do you a lot of good either. Your last employer made it a point to let him know that you’re attendance was perfect, that you were never sick, and the only time off you took was for religious reasons, and only eight times a year. The fundys all know that Witches worship on the eight sabbats. Some of them know more about our religion than some of us do.
What to do? There’s nothing you really can do. Unless we can make the face to face interview illegal, discrimination will continue on a widespread basis. You will never be hired on the basis of your merits, or what you know. You will be judged by your personality, your color, your gender, your ethnicity and anything else (non-job related) that they can find out about you.
In fact the only honest, non-discriminatory way I can be sure of is to conduct the entire hiring process in cyberspace. Huh? Send your resume by email along with pre-written references. Arrange the have the interview via chat (no web cameras allowed). They can’t see you, you can’t see them, nor can they hear you or you them. No judgments based on what you look like or how you sound can be made. They won’t know your gender, your color or your age. You need to be able to type accurately, and grammar and spelling are important here, because these are the only things they will be able to judge you on.
In the perfect world, that would be the only legal way an interview could be conducted. To be sure, they could still find a lot about you on the web (unless you are awfully careful) but age, gender and ethnicity could no longer be a consideration, unless you inadvertently revealed those somewhere.