An applicant walks into a job interview with a renovation company, sits down and expects the interview to be about home redesign, architecture, computer skills and availability. Imagine her surprise when the boss takes the conversation a totally different way.
"I have Mexican workers on my staff," the hiring manager says. "One thing about them is they always want to party. They're always walking off the job to take days off."
And the applicant was stunned by the unapologetic observation. It is possible that this hiring manager may have dealt with a few workers who happened to be a certain race and coincidentally had the same job habits. But the applicant immediately pictured several Mexican friends from high school, college and other jobs in her head who would do anything but walk off a job. And the fact that the applicant was African-American while the hiring manager was Jewish was a bit unsettling, too, primarily because there are just as many stereotypes about these groups as well.
Now how does an applicant respond to a comment like this, especially if she wants the job in spite of the hiring manager leaning towards being a bit racist?
First step, never appease someone else's ignorance regardless of how much it may make you look like you're bonding with the manager. Second step, if you really want the job, stay focused on the actual job.
Her response: "Not all Mexican people are the same. So what did you say about your site needing a redesign?"
This is about the best response that an applicant can give when a hiring manager says something she doesn't like. An employee is just that -- an employee. There are no promises that the employee must party with or hang out with the boss after work. And everyone a person works with isn't someone that an employee would necessarily want to befriend, including peers as co-workers.
But unless the applicant puts her foot down from the very beginning about jabs at other people's races, she may find herself regularly listening to an unfunny comment here and there. Could not appeasing the hiring manager (or potential boss) cost her the job? Yes, it's possible. But unless money overrides morals then, like any other belief, make your thoughts known but keep it professional.
Those who are most likely to talk about someone of a certain race when they're not in the room may also be the ones to talk about your own race as soon as you're not present, too. And should the boss and interviewee be the same race, the comments may then move on to gender or age or self-hate within their own race.
There are plenty of other concerns during the hiring process: ageism, sexism, political differences and even opposite religions. But tread lightly when these subjects come up. And by all means, jobs and/or a career are necessary for everyday living, but do not compromise your own beliefs just to get paid.
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