Women vs men : interview success


I have been asked yet again how well women interview compared to men.

I didn’t hesitate in my answer, which was "poorly".

Just for clarity, I am referencing professionals in senior posts within the HR community including regional or global HRD’s and heads of specialist functions who are living and working in a multitude of countries around the world.

Interestingly, I notice this disparity more in western countries rather than eastern or emerging countries.  So maybe we have some cultural hang-ups at play here.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have an equal respect for men and women in the HR community.  I have no grudge to bear.  I have an equal number of female and male friends and professional contacts.

But men, in my experience, typically interview better than their female counterparts.

There’s no obvious reason for it, especially in the HR profession.  I mean, these people are conducting interviews regularly perhaps on a daily basis.  They’re constantly coaching others on how to conduct interviews and how to be interviewed successfully.

But men sell themselves.  And women sell themselves short.

A woman once said to me “…I’m busy getting on with the job, achieving results, working hard and without fuss, and of course it will be noticed.  Why would I need to shout about it?”

And therein lies the problem.

You may have had a great reputation with your last/current employer.  You may have been the “go to” solutions expert.  You may have been the best in your organisation.  But whilst I'm a perceptive interviewer, I’m not a mind reader.  And I don’t know about any of these things unless you tell me.

I don’t need you to boast.  You don’t need to make up things to impress me.  You do however need to be very clear about what exactly you’ve done, you’ve contributed, and you’ve achieved.  I need demonstrable evidence that you have the capability and/or competencies to do the new job.

When you’re in an interview you’re talking about ‘we’ not ‘I’.  Talking about the team’s achievements rather than your own leads me, as the interviewer, wondering what the heck your personal contribution was.  I want to hire you, not your team, so I want to hear about you.

There is an old saying, “the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the grease”.

A variation of this applies for any interview scenario.  If you can sell yourself to me, you give me the confidence that 1. you really can do the job, 2. you are a leader and creator rather than just an implementer, and 3. you can sell yourself to a new set of stakeholders who don’t know you from Adam (or Eve).

Keeping quiet about your work will inhibit your chances of success at interview.  You have to learn to be your own champion.  It's food for thought…