The interview process in manufacturing leadership can be difficult for the person being interviewed. In fact, it can be nothing short of job altering.
For the candidate the differences go without saying, but the same interview that confounds the prospective executive can be a conundrum for the interviewer too. Most of those who are tasked with interviewing the prospects are not aware that different genders differ in the interview process. If you don’t understand the differences you may pass over the best candidate for the job.
Based on your own gender, you may be more attuned to a given style of communication. That’s a bonus when it comes to understanding an interviewee of the same sex, but it may be detrimental when you are interviewing those of the opposite sex.
For people of both genders there is some measure of stress prior to the interview. Studies show us that women may handle that area of the interview better than men do.
They will reach out and find social support and may do mock interviews. This allows them to be more confident in the interview process.
The men typically don’t do that but rather will engage in activities that help them to lower the stress, but those actions can wear them out a little and lower their effectiveness in the interview.
There is also a general difference in communication styles.
In 2014 a study, undertaken by the National Academy of Sciences found that interviewers of both sexes are more likely to hire a man. Another study found that the styles and responses are so unique to the different genders that based on the responses; most people could tell you whether the interviewee was male or female.
According to a study undertaken by MedReps.com not only the interview process is going to be affected by gender but also the way the interview is set up and who actually wants to apply for the interview.
Everything about the job changes dependent upon gender factors. Some examples of that aspect of that are:
- Many times women won’t apply for a job that has a description written in a more masculine way or a job that lists traits that are most commonly associated with men.
- Most men will apply for a job if they meet only 60-70 percent of the qualifications while women are more self-critical and will apply only if they meet more than 90 percent of the qualifications stated.
- Two times as many men fabricate their resume as women do.
- Women in the interview who describe themselves in terms that are traditionally seen as feminine will lag well behind men in the interview process even if they are more qualified.
NPR reported in 2014 that from 2008 to 2010, women received the majority of doctorate degrees in life and social sciences but only 32 percent of the open assistant professorships.
In nearly every field, women—even when being interviewed by a woman, are judged slightly more critically and are less likely to interview for jobs that are traditionally male dominated.
“As we dug into the research, we were surprised to see just how much gender can affect the hiring process,” says Robyn Melhuish, Communications Manager, MepReps. “From the words used in a job description, to the ways men and women represent themselves in an interview; gender can make a big difference in unseen ways.”
What’s the answer to a more unbiased interview process?
In most cases just being aware that there is a problem is the best step that you can take. Knowing that these biases exist, step around them and simply find the best candidate.
Encouraging females to interview for traditionally male jobs is a good start. Manufacturing jobs are seen as male dominated. Breaking that stereotype is a good start.
Writing unique and straightforward job descriptions that encourage everyone to apply is a good step. Realistically most people are unaware that they perceive one sex or another as being a better bet in a given situation. Be aware of that and pay attention to your own reactions.
Male nurses have a much more difficult time moving into leadership positions according to statistics. Female programmers are seen in a different light. Females in firefighting and manufacturing are often seen as the less likely of the candidates to excel even if they are more qualified. Males who own daycare centers are sometimes viewed askance. In many cases, unknowingly, genders are assigned to specific career paths.
The interviewer needs to be aware of that and compensate for it. Ask the question “is this job traditionally seen as a role for a specific sex. If this person were that sex, would I have a problem hiring them?”
Qualifications and soft skills should be judged on their own merits without any consideration of the gender of the candidate. In some cases, even when actively seeking to accomplish it, that is more easily said than done.