How to Take a Leadership Role in Your Job Interview ala #MeToo
Many moons ago I interviewed for the role of coordinator for new business in a PR firm. A glorified secretary. As I stepped into the elevator, a guy who was buzzing a remote-controlled car around the lobby popped into the elevator with me. I sort of snicker and say, “It’s great you get to bring your toys to work.” He laughs. Moments later I’m sitting across the desk from him answering his job interview questions.
He asks me, “Is it lay or lie? Hanged or hung? Proved or proven?” I answer like a journalism grad. He asks me if I have any questions, and I don’t remember asking anything other than starting date, pay, and dress code.
In retrospect, I wish I had asked two questions:
"What is the company’s commitment to gender balance not only in leadership roles but all along the path to promotion?"
"What assurances can you give me that your offer will be in alignment with what men in similar roles are making?"
It didn’t and wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask those questions in 1990. I was still under the possibility haze of Title IX, and my parents’ cheerleading that I could be-do-have anything I put my mind to.
If anyone had asked me if I experienced sexism while climbing the step ladder, I would have said, “other than butt-patting, leering, ‘you wanna go for a drink’ kinda comments, I always get what I want. Men aren’t holding me back.”
Even when the dufus, blue blood frat boy with no experience got hired as an account executive two months later, I didn’t see the writing on the wall. I had to teach him everything, but my exuberance about being useful combined with complete cluenessness about building and leveraging influence kept me working with my head down. Good girl.
Despite all the work of the women’s movement, gender bias was rampant, and still culturally normal. I had drunk the Kool-Aid. (Drank? Drunk?)
We are obviously in another era (thank God I woke up) and the #MeToo movement has made it possible, I say imperative, for you to show you potential employer that your eyes are wide open, and that you plan to ascend and bring increasing value to the company over time. So I implore you to add those two questions above to your interview arsenal with no apology.
Here are a few more job interview questions to ask your employer that demonstrate your leadership:
“Thinking back to people you’ve seen do this work previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great at it?”
While this interview question demonstrates that you want to exceed and do well, it may also reveal a thing or two about the culture of the organization.
“What is the company’s biggest challenge this year and how does this role help overcome it?” (Hat Tip: JT O’Donnell)
This interview question shows you understand that the role is tied to solving specific pain points for the organization. As important, it will help you script your counteroffer by mapping your unique superpowers to those challenges or pains.
“Do you have any reservations about me, and my ability to do this job? If so, would you please share them so that I might address them?” (Hat tip: Allison Task from Women 2.0)
A leadership move for sure, this interview question really reveals that you can handle what’s thrown at you, that you aren’t afraid of the truth, and that you’ll take the answer to heart even if you don’t get the job.
Now…go lie down your fears and script your responses so you don’t get hunged up in your next interview.