"What is an appropriate way to out myself in a job interview if they don’t ask the diversity question? Last time, all I could think of was ‘As a gay person, I believe in equality in the workplace and beyond’ but that seemed unprompted and awkward in hindsight."
- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Sara Schmidt-Kost as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.
Great question! I think there are a few different ways a person can out themselves in an interview that won’t come off awkward or unprompted.
First, please check and make sure you live in a state that has protective laws in place for LGBT people in the workplace. Unfortunately, the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act hasn’t passed Congress yet, so there is no nation-wide law in place. However, some states, like where I live in Minnesota, have passed laws that protect workers from being discriminated against or fired for identifying as LGBT. If there is no law in your state, it could be detrimental to your potential employment.
When you are applying for jobs, there are ways to hint at your sexual orientation in your resume and/or cover letter. Include on your resume time you’ve spent volunteering with LGBT organizations, leadership roles or internships with LGBT organizations while in college, and clearly spe it out in a Special Skills section if you have one. For instance, using terms like “Cultural Diversity,” “Multicultural Sensitivity,” “LGBT Issues,” or other similar terms can signal to those interviewing you of your orientation, or at least your social justice mind-set. You can also include those terms or out yourself in your summary on your LinkedIn profile if you have one.
In the actual interview, you can answer questions in ways that out yourself, such as you stated above. As long as you practice answering questions this way and are confident in your answer, it won’t come off as awkward. Use examples. Mention any work you’ve done with LGBT organizations, anything you learned in college, or any other life experiences that would be relevant. You can always research common interview questions on the internet, or even ask the company for a copy of the questions they ask so that you can prepare.
Speaking of preparing, that’s another great thing to do before your interview. Research the company you’re applying for a job with and check to see if they have a policy about sexual orientation/gender identity. Come prepared with that information and any other information about the company. You can also ask your interviewer during the “do you have any questions for us” section at the end of the interview what their company’s policy is on sexual orientation/gender identity, or about same-sex marriage benefits, anything like that.
You can always out yourself during the “tell us a little about yourself” section, too. You may want to practice that a few times if you choose to out yourself in that way. Rehearse what you’re going to say, and make sure it sounds good to you. The more prep you can do for an interview, the better!
Plan for it. Rehearse what you want to say. Go into the interview confident that you are prepared, that you are qualified for the position, and gosh darn it, that you deserve a job! Now go rock that interview!
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