Responding to Job Interview Questions about Sexual Orientation
Legally, in the U.S. sexual orientation should be a non-issue during the hiring process. A generational component may be an influential factor in the spread of fairness in workplace sexual orientation issues. In general, most younger job interviewers seem to be neutral — not affected one way or the other by a candidate’s sexuality. Some older interviewers, who’ve lived through changing times, may be affected but lean over backwards making sure that all questions are job-related.
Even in companies or locales where sexual orientation discrimination is forbidden, biased interviewers get away with it because that won’t be the reason they give when you’re turned down (if you ever hear back from them). They find other reasons for your rejection.
Don’t be lulled into complacent mistakes because of the rapid acceleration during the past decade of sexual orientation as a protected class by both company declarations and government (state and local) laws. Discrimination is alive and well.
Here are a few suggestions to smooth your interviewing experience:
If you choose to disclose, wait until the interviewer either shows enormous interest in your qualifications and you know an offer is eminent, or until the offer is actually made. Some savvy advisers recommend that you wait until you have a written offer letter in hand.
Thoroughly research the company’s culture and civil rights policies before the interview. Look for companies that proclaim a nondiscriminatory policy on sexual orientation. Look for a company that offers a domestic partner benefits plan to life partners.
How can you tell whether fairness happy talk is real or window dressing? Ask members of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) support networks what they know about a company where you plan to interview. And look at GLBT Web sites and job boards for lists of friendly employers and detailed job hunting advice.
Key resources include the following:
Although you won’t be asked directly about your sexual orientation, an interviewer may — inadvertently or purposely — nibble around the edges with inappropriate personal questions.