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Bias and Flirting in the Hiring Process—Yea or Nay?

June 21, 2010 10:22 AM

Lots of reaction from you about job postings that require applicants to be currently employed. Most of you were outraged, but plenty weren’t surprised—having experienced it firsthand.

How about this one: Since we focus exclusively on women’s career advancement, we’re often approached by recruiters asking for recommendations of female candidates. But there’s sometimes a catch: No kids, no spouse, a willingness to put in long hours and travel. Long hours and travel we can accept, but anytime there’s a demand about family and marital status, we refuse to engage. We know plenty of moms who work long hours and travel for work. We also know bias in every form exists, but when it’s so blatant it’s a cold reminder of how far we still must go. Even if you weren’t affected, would you want to work for an organization that used such recruitment tactics, even behind the scenes? Tell us what you think.

We also got this question: "Is it ok for a woman to flirt while interviewing or does it automatically crush her credibility? Some of my friends say I'm a great flirt—and to flaunt what I've got. Others say, no way—they urge me to be all business." What's YOUR take?

Comments (26)

Try a variety of hemlines, to make each dress unique. The dress below the knee, can be cut on one side shorter than the others. Beginning just above the hem on one side and cut at an angle to reach much higher on the opposite side of the stain... Just my 2 cents : )

I like it just as much if not more the second time around! Thank you for share this article. Go on...

Many women do take on too much. However, their family dynamics may require that they return to work after having a baby. Directing one's own personal philsophies again pregnant women when they are out on maternity leave is very short-sighted. I am single, with no children, and I have covered workload for people on extended sick leave AND maternity leave. And, that has been done for me as well. I would never want to work for someone who had a total disregard for employees rights and a blatant bias against women who chose to have children and then return to work. Management's lack of preparation is the real issue, not blaming the employee who is within her rights to take leave to have a baby. Business owners, of all people, should understand the dynamics of the workplace. Advanced preparation and establishing a culture of teamwork and mutual respect and support would "get the job done" AND deliver those "results for everyone." And, you don't have to be "popular" to do it.

Flirting during an interview is out of place, unprofessional and should never be tolerated by the employer during an interview. What a question! We women have enough to deal with in the workplace. Sanctioning ladies to "flirt" makes it that much harder to establish and substantiate TRUE sexual advances and harrassment in the workplace. Get a life ladies. Date discreetly in the workplace...if you must. Personally, I've run into one too many women using the office to playout their fantasies and infidelities.

I think that men are expected to work just as hard as women outside the home. If the company culture of their employer requires long hours and travel there is typically no concession made because the man is a Dad. I do see some women who allow themselves to take on the martyr role and it's really sad. I think that you set the expectations with your employer and manage them.

In reference to flirting....there is a difference between being playful and full on flirting. I think a certain degree of playfulness (not being coy!) is acceptable if it matches the tone of the interview. I don't think flirting is ever acceptable in an interview or in the workplace.

I have been asked if I sleep with married men.

From a very early age, at 15, I realized that women enjoy pouring as much stress over themselves as possible. What I mean, I watched my mother raise (4) children, work at job, and take care of an adult child; my father. Never, not one time, did I want to sign myself up for that kind of nonsense. I believe I’m smart enough to realize that if you want to be really good at something, you cannot have multiple interruptions and deviations from that goal. Today, women think that they can heap on more and more stress, and think that they can do their jobs well, and also raise children. I say, not! Over the years, I was assigned work from pregnant employees and was told to do their work while they were out on maternity leave. Really? As a business owner, the goal is to make the company successful so that everyone is paid well and that we all have our jobs. I need people at work to get the job done. My views are quite unpopular, but I am not running a popularity contest, it’s about getting the results for everyone! If women want their children, stay at home and nurture that process. You’ll be more successful!

I worked in Human Resources for the corporate counsel team which was male orientated and one of the sure ways a female candidate would not advance was is she dressed even remotely suggestively and/or flirted during the interview.

Women need to work 10X harder has men to be taken seriously (especially in male dominated fields) we need to use our education, skills and business personality win our roles.

As for the other issue: Bias in the hiring process

Why are women today expected to encompass it all?
We are supposed to keep trying to look young as we get older (aging in the workplace counts against us) please husbands, take care of a house and family and be executives all without a sweat of stress!
If a married woman with children decides travel and long hours is what she can handle that is her choice not a bias of the employer. No one will ever not hire a married father for having to travel or work long hours, not will anyone fault him for having to do so.

That's the first time I have ever heard that people actually THINK of flirting during an interview! Tory, to answer your question, absolutely not. The more professional, the better in my opinion, no matter what the job.

"Actions speak louder than words."

Meena.

I work in a predominately male-dominated industry. In fact, right now, I am trying to get promoted. If I do, I will be the first female in my category to get promoted in 30 years. That said, I believe that flirting and establishing a rapport in an interview are two different things. I believe that flirting during an interview is inappropriate. However, after you get hired, if you notice the corporate culture and it involves heavy flirting, you can decide at that point to stay with the company or leave.

As for a bias against women with children that are married, I would not want to work for such a company. If they are that blatant about it, I would not. I do not have any children and I am not married. However, I hope to change my current status on both fronts at some point in the near future. I believe that men and women should be treated in the same fashion. If they don't want to hire women who are married with children then they most certaily should do the same for the men.

I am so glad you asked this. I was recently laid off from a company who basically used ths bias to let me go. I was basically told that "we took a chance in hiring you as a single parent"...as I have been traveling and performing my job as required. Also advised hiring manager that I could not do excessive overnights, but after i was hired, I was then told that I would have to do overnights...why would you put someone in this position if they told you from the beginning that it was a personal requirement.

I think it is horrible for any business to say they will not hire a women because of her marital status or because she has children. Whether a women is married or has a family has no effect on her ability to perform the job.

I am so glad you are asking this. I have recently returned to the
workplace, and when I was interviewing I had one person on an interview panel say, "I didn't know there were any women like you out there."
I was so taken aback I didn't know what to say! So I just didn't say
anything. Any suggestions for how to deal with this type of comment, and how to regain one's footing after something like this happens in an interview setting?

Kelly

That's the first time I have ever heard that people actually THINK of flirting during an interview! Tory, to answer your question, absolutely not. An interview doesn't end just there; it is the starting point of building your impression and repute with the company, and if you do get hired, imagine what credibility you would have when you start working in the Company!

Sure, develop a rapport, be yourself, but there is a strong line between being interesting and engaging, and flirting.

Regarding biases, unfortunately they exist even in this day and age when women put in extended hours, travel a lot, and focus on their home and family as well. If the bias was blatant, I would rather not work for such a company.

What a great question and discussion! The dictionary defines flirting in this way: to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions; play at love; coquet.

If we view it in this light it is not appropriate in a professional setting as signals can be misinterpreted for sexual interest. However, I think many equate "flirting" with being charming and warm and this I absolutely recommend in interviews. I have never been "all business" stiff as a board in any setting and it has served me well over the years.

I spent the bulk of my career in an extremely male-dominated industry. Flirting is the kiss of death -- it indicates that you do not think you'll win the business by presenting a superior product with a balanced discussion of the strengths of your product (in this case, YOU) -- and indicates that you'll take the low road every single time to get the business.

It also sets up the expectation that (I'm gonna be very blunt here) you'll put out any time you're in a situation where there's something you need -- a raise, a promotion, a better chair for your office...and that's absolutely NOT what you want to create.

Keep it to strictly business -- be warm and friendly, and show off your sense of humor -- but keep the flirting for Saturday night when you're a long, long way from the workplace.

You can be interesting and not flirt. They are two different things. Connecting on a common level helps establish a better rapport and is more comfortable than trying to flirt. You never know how the interviewer will perceive flirting; however, if you find a common topic of conversation, it could open other opportunities for you.

Is it OK to flirt during an interview?
My Comment: You don't have to flirt to be taken by some interviewers as being flirtatious. You may say something like "I'm very good at what I do" and your remark may be taken as having sexual innuendos. Clue:When the male interviewer replies by saying, "Yeh,Honey, I'm sure you are !". I think it has a lot to do with your total first impression - what you say and what you're wearing to the interview and how that relates to the local community and the specific corporate culture.

The above mentioned story actually happened to me when I was referred by a friend to work at a local TV station. I was wearing a fashionable sweater and skirt but it was obviously not right for the interview. That's when I decided to be self-employed and never went to another interview.

No Way!!! In 2010, although we still have a long way to go, flirting is not the way to go to succeed in a career.
Go with you talents and personality and let that be the test of whether or not you get the job. That sends a much more positive message. thanks to being a DRIP!!! A drip with self esteem....

Anyone who says NO to flirting is probably a drip. This is of course an issue women have to contend with every day. If we use what we've got, we're penalized. If we don't, we miss out. I say flirt like crazy. And if you don't know how to flirt, learn fast. It'll advance your career, despite what anyone says.

I'm not even sure this is even a valid question. Tory must like playing devil's advocate. Flirting during an interview? What is this the 1950's? Since when do women have to create an interest in their talents and expertise by flirting? And let's say the guy hires you, now what? Do you have to keep this up? What credibility do you have with him after you have to depend on him for appraisals and evaluations every year based on your WORK?
Moving on the whole marital status issue. From personal experience it is up to the employer to set up an environment that is supportive of all marital status. As a married person with no children I do not expect my time to be treated any different that someone that has chosen to have children. It is a choice not an obligation or required. Women AND men who want to excel at their job/career will do what's necessary to make that happen regardless of their outside obligations. Too many times families with children take advantage of the few perks associated with family leave.
I think it's despicable that hiring managers won't hire someone who has a husband or children but that is the world we live in. Marital status is a protected group thus anyone expressing habits to do so should be reported not simply passed on as a working partner.

I'm not even sure this is even a valid question. Tory must like playing devil's advocate. Flirting during an interview? What is this the 1950's? Since when do women have to create an interest in their talents and expertise by flirting? And let's say the guy hires you, now what? Do you have to keep this up? What credibility do you have with him after you have to depend on him for appraisals and evaluations every year based on your WORK?
Moving on the whole marital status issue. From personal experience it is up to the employer to set up an environment that is supportive of all marital status. As a married person with no children I do not expect my time to be treated any different that someone that has chosen to have children. It is a choice not an obligation or required. Women AND men who want to excel at their job/career will do what's necessary to make that happen regardless of their outside obligations. Too many times families with children take advantage of the few perks associated with family leave.
I think it's despicable that hiring managers won't hire someone who has a husband or children but that is the world we live in. Marital status is a protected group thus anyone expressing habits to do so should be reported not simply passed on as a working partner.

Would not like to work for a company that doesn't want women that are married or are parents. Being both that would affect me. My question to that is why is it ok for a man to be married and have kids but not ok for a woman?

Regarding flirting during an interview, if you are talking showing that you have a fun side, can laugh at situations that is ok but flirting in a sexual way, ie wearing low cut outfits, bending forward showing assets off that isn't right.

I think an interview is a chance for you to feel out the company as well as of course for the company to feel you out. If your style is flirty and outgoing, and it falls flat at the interview, then it was obviously not a good fit; it's best to find that out asap. And if the company is looking for an outgoing, fun personality for the job, and you feel that you should act sober and straitlaced, when you're really not, then you've lost your chance at making a contribution there. Toning down a bit is fine, as a way to show respect for the time being taken on your behalf. But to squash your personality entirely for that short time during the interview, to try to make an unnatural fit, is a waste of everybody's time and energy. It's important for your true personality to shine through, no matter what your style.

I'd rather the bias be blatant than hidden. At least, I know immediately what the situation is....have dealt w/numerous staffing agencies who state that I'm a well-qualified candidate to my face, but never send me on an assignment. Almost certain that it's due to my congenital condition...of course, they stammer through other excuses when I call to check in.

ABSOLUTELY NOT !

Is it ok for a woman to flirt while interviewing? Of course! Interviewing is establishing a relationship and flirting is a part of that. Flirting is just a way to create interest. It isn't always associated with sex!

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