July 20, 2019 | 83° F

SHETH: What women can do to succeed in job interviews

Opinions Column: Sonam Says


First things first: dress the part. Don't wear clothes that are too tight, as they make you look cheap and slutty, and nobody likes an unprofessional person.

Don't wear clothes that are loose-fitting, because they make you look unattractive and, therefore, as invisible as a person of color at a Donald Trump campaign rally.

Smile. You'll look so much prettier that way.

Stop smiling so much. You look ditzy and unqualified.

Wear the right amount of makeup. If you wear too much, you’ll look like you’re going to a nightclub, and that will turn off the men in the room. If you wear too little, you’ll look tired and sick and that will turn off the men in the room.

Don't be too aggressive. Giving the hiring manager concrete, data-driven examples that show why you deserve this job only serves to highlight your arrogance, and that may leave a bad impression on those who are interviewing you.

Speak up. You need to be clear about what you deserve and have evidence to back that up. How will senior leadership know that you're a go-getter when you barely raise your voice?

Put together a list of your accomplishments and e-mail it to the person interviewing you before you meet them. This will also serve as a subtle reminder that you are a smart and capable woman who knows how to use e-mail. But be careful not to overdo it. No one likes a show-off.

Don't be so robotic all the time. Companies look for passion and drive in potential recruits, and they want to see that you're interested in this job.

Control your expressiveness. Raising your voice to make a point or demonstrate passion is a sign of impulsiveness and irrational thinking. The only exception to this is if you're talking about fashion, the Kardashians or the latest Pretty Little Liars episode, as these are areas women are expected to be passionate about.

Show the interviewer that you are an independent and career-minded woman. Companies don't like it when employees seem distracted with other things outside of work. Look at your male counterparts. It's not like they ever get distracted by fantasy football and sleeping with that college intern half their age — they're focused, and you should be, too.

Take time off from focusing on your career and have a couple of kids. You're a woman, so it would be strange and cast a shadow of doubt over your sanity and work ethic if you didn't have children.

Don't be argumentative. Asking the interviewer for feedback on your performance just makes everyone in the room feel awkward, and you'll end up looking pushy and aggressive.

Don't be a pushover. Speak up when you want results. Companies love an employee who's forward about what they want.

Don’t be sloppy. Remember that one time you made a typo on a 30-minute Powerpoint presentation? As a woman, you are flighty and inattentive by nature, so this is understandable, but you need to focus on the task at hand every once in a while.

Don’t be so detail-oriented all the time. Females have a habit of harping on every little thing, but it’s not always necessary. A couple of missteps here and there are no big deal. Focus on the big picture.

Consider bringing a pint of Ben & Jerry's with you, so that you can cry into it when you're asked a tough question. Don't worry about alarming the hiring manager. Everyone knows women tend to become overly emotional when things don't go their way.

Bring the hiring manager some ice cream too, so he knows that on rare occasions, you are capable of dragging your mind away from marriage, babies and your social media accounts in order to think about others.

Lastly, remember not to make excuses when you don't get the job offer. Sexism is dead — this was proven when the company hired that Hispanic woman in HR three years ago — and only an incapable woman uses that to justify why she didn't get hired over the other guy, Joe, who was the same age but had less experience than her. The hiring manager already told you Joe had a certain "je ne sais quoi" the company was looking for, and asking for an elaboration just makes you sound like you’re nagging and focusing on things that don’t matter.

So for god's sake, stop being so dramatic by expressing your frustration for more than 2.5 seconds, and rein in that anxious female energy. This is the land of opportunity, and no one is denied a single thing as long as they work hard. Chin up, soldier, and best of luck on your next interview.

Sonam Sheth is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in economics and statistics. Her column, "Sonam Says," runs on alternate Thursdays.

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Sonam Sheth

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