Are the rules of interviewing different for LGBT people? According to Mr. Manners a k a Steven Petrow, author of “Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Life” the answer is yes.
He sat down with dot429’s Tom Musbach during a break on his recent book tour.
TM: In a job interview, what is the best way to deal with an interviewer whom you suspect is trying to figure out your sexual orientation without directly asking you (which is illegal)?
SP: If it feels really uncomfortable, you can say something like this during the interview: “I understand you’d like to know more about my private life, but I’m a very private person.” If that doesn’t seem to make things right, I’d speak to the HR person as soon as possible after the interview and make clear what happened. You may not get that particular job, but with any luck the interviewer will be reminded that he or she needs to stay within the spirit and letter of the law.
TM: Your book offers great tips on attire and grooming for an interview, but I’m curious on a point about facial hair for men. The two- or three-day stubble look is very popular and considered attractive by many. But is it OK on a man going into a job interview?
SP: So much depends on the job and the company. Here are a couple of things you can do before your interview: Check out the firm’s website and see if there are any dress codes about facial hair (yep, some do). You can also go online and see if there are photos of staff members. How formal or informal are they? What about people in the role you’re applying for; remember, there’s a difference between an executive and her executive assistant.
Certainly in some lines of work a two- or three-day stubble exemplifies the right kind of individualism and creativity. But if there’s any uber point to be considered: Don’t let your attire or grooming become a distraction in any way. When in doubt, shave! It will grow back in two or three days!
TM: What is your pet peeve about bad office etiquette?
SP: So glad you asked. Hate it when I’m in a meeting and everyone is texting with others outside the meeting. Be present! For the record, I only text my colleagues in the same meeting when I want to be snarky about them <wink>. Have I mentioned that I’m not perfect?
TM: Networking events for LGBT professionals are more common these days, but sometimes they can feel more like meat markets where you’re more likely to get a date than a job connection. Any thoughts on how to make the best use of these events for advancing your career?
SP: And what’s wrong with a date? Best advice:
– Keep it professional.
– Turn off the flirting and don’t spend too much time with one “contact” in case he or she gets the wrong idea.
– Network with as many people as possible.
– And get a business card so you can follow up about the job.
TM: Finally, on a lighter note: How would you rate the etiquette of the readers who have attended your book tour events? Do any good or bad examples stand out?
SP: Let me start with this: Some radio hosts have had no qualms about displaying their not-so-inner homophobia in asking me questions like, “Why are gay men so effeminate?” or “Don’t you think you can tell a gay person by the way he speaks?” I’ve been surprised – although I shouldn’t have been – and one of the main reasons I wrote “Gay Manners” was to dispel stereotypes.
Otherwise, the folks who have attended the readings have been very well-mannered. No gum chewing. No texting. They haven’t even left early. This gives me hope for civilization!
For more from Mr. Manners, visit www.gaymanners.com