Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Inappropriate Interviews - Straight or Natural?

The other day over dinner a friend of mine shared a story about her friend who interviewed for a position and was told that as a Latina she should probably straighten her hair when she goes on an interview rather than wear it curly.

First let me start by saying that was illegal for any employer to discriminate on the basis of race to anyone. However, as we talked over dinner we realized that this was a controversial topic. Should the girl report the employer? Should she try and press charges? It was a heated discussion. And usually in heated discussions people fail to listen. So here are my thoughts in a nutshell.

1) I think that it is ridiculous that people are not aware of social norms such as, interview etiquette in 2010. And I also think the reason why is because some people are able to get away with for so long that they’ve never been corrected. Seriously frustrating.
2) This situation puts someone in a weird place. I have been involved in a situation at work where I chose to let something go because I didn’t want the attention of the process that I had to go through to fix it. A coworker sends a racist email, do I want to go to HR and file a complaint? Maybe, but do I want to be called a whistle blower at work, or just not associate with this coworker anymore?
3) As a Black man who has done some recruiting before I’ve always wondered what I should tell another candidate who was also a minority. Should I even lend a helping hand to a frat brother of mine? I think the answer is yes, I should be helping both of these people out. And honestly, if I interview someone and they are a hot mess and they need to get it together, then I think I will tell them.
a. Now if some Black girl comes into my office to interview and she’s “thick” and I tell her, if I was you, I’d try to wear better fitting clothes. You appear to be “showing” off. You know Black women have curves and all, but is she going to be offended that I’m telling her to “know her audience.”
4) The last thing, is that in some ways you have to be happy that someone doesn’t lie to you. I like to know why doors are closed in my face. If you are not hiring me because of my race; then I’d like to know that. I’d rather someone tell me it’s because I’m Black or because I have locks in my hair than say, “We just didn’t think you possessed the skills to be a good fit at our firm.”
5) Here’s what I would do. I would go home and post an article about the interview on It’s anonymous and it actually helps to avoid what you don’t want happening, this happening to someone else. I wouldn’t want the job at that place because if that’s how they treat their prospective employees, I can’t imagine how they treat their current employees. Lastly, I get back on my grind working to meet my main goal which is to find a job.

So yeah, those were my thoughts, but I’m interested to see what the Buppie readers think? Do you feel like I’m playing Uncle Tom here? Have you had similar experiences?

1 comment:


The whole curly vs straight thing shouldn’t be an issue on an interview. As long as you are well groomed, neat, and are wearing “interview worthy clothes” I think the hair thing has to drop. I do know a lot of people who straighten their hair to get the job. Is it fair? No. Should you be discrimated based on your dreads or figure, of course not. Bottom line, you have to put your best foot forward and show that you do have the skills for the job you are applying for. I do think there are basic rules that one should follow when interviewing for a job, or else the interviewer won’t take you seriously.

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