Author Topic: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance  (Read 9070 times)

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TylerBelle

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After reading about the interview process and what the interviewers go through and look for in the original thread, and not wanting to hijack, I have a question. As I've mentioned, I am a "little person," being just a few inches over four feet. I have been told, and more than once, that I would be "hard to hire" due to my appearance (the strongest by a instructor in a class designed for credit by having a job, or guiding you to get one; it was the first thing she said to me). Since good steady work has been somewhat scarce, I do have to think it's pretty much the truth. It's on my mind when going in for job interviews, whether things are going to be an automatic no from the potential employer upon first seeing me.

This is sort of the 'elephant in the room' dilemma for me. So I'd like to ask should I come right out and directly ask if my appearance factors into their decision? Though I wonder if they'd answer me truthfully if it would. Or just let it go, don't say anything about it, and hope for the best? Thanks. :)
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cicero

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 03:55:35 PM »
Generally speaking you can always ask but i doubt anyone would come out and say that's the reason. Do you think that your height is a problem to properly perform the jobs you are applying  for?Caue I have to say that it isn't necessarily something that would affect *my* decision in hiring someone. So if you are qualified for the job and not getting hired, perhaps there is another reason (maybe you are lacking confidence ?)

Have you tried working through an agency?
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 04:02:34 PM by cicero »

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Carotte

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 04:12:51 PM »
Would you work with customers?
I ask because they could be judging your size because they would be afraid their customers wouldn't like it  (that would be wrong and I think illegal at least here).
If you don't work with the public they might be 'uncomfortable' if they've never interacted with a X person (X being of a different race, gender identity, random disability..).
In that case you could proactively reassure them that you are quite capable of any task your job entails.
"As you can see on my resume I had X and Y position/job at firmW and never had any problem performing my duties or quickly learning new things. I've never let anything slow me down."

And this really depends on you/your job/ the company/the recruiter and all that, but sometimes a joke/laugh is the best icebreaker. 
Something like "and I come with my own step-stool!"* would likely tell the recruiter that you don't think your height matters and that there is always a way to work around it.


*I do not, by any mean, want to be callous or insensitive, self-deprecation humor is not for everyone and I apologize if I'm way out of lines and don't realize it.

camlan

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 04:24:10 PM »
What advice did the instructor give you to help counterbalance what she saw as a deficit? I mean, she did give you some advice about how to handle the issue, didn't she? or did she just drop that bombshell and say nothing more to you?

I think it depends on what type of job you are looking for. If it is something that is basically office or desk work, I don't see why your height would make a difference, if you are otherwise qualified for the position. If it's a job that requires heavy lifting or a lot of physical work, then I could see why an employer might not make you their first choice.

What sorts of questions do you get during interviews? Do you get the feeling that once they see you, they ask just enough questions to be polite and then usher you out the door, or do you get the sense that they are really interviewing you and asking questions to determine your skills and how you would handle problems in the job you are interviewing for?

Another thought--if you are in the US, your employer will be required to make accommodations for you, if you need them. They probably have a completely misguided idea about how much those accommodations would cost. I think the average cost is about $75 for an employee with physical disabilities (I'm not saying you are disabled, but that's the figure I have seen). While the average employer assumes that the accommodations will cost upwards of $500. These are figures I've seen in researching employment for the disabled. What you might be running into is people thinking that hiring you will cost their company money, if they have to alter the office environment so that you can work comfortably.

If you do need any accommodations, like a special chair or something, I do think it might help to bring that up during an interview. Make it a straightforward statement of fact, "As you can see, I do require a special chair/step stool/whatever, but that is the only accommodation I need in an office setting." Don't bring up your appearance per se, but do make a factual statement about what you need to do the job. If you don't need any accommodations, do state that. "As you can see, I'm a 'little person.' However, that in no way affects my ability to solve quadratic equations/balance the books/type at 150 words a minute/always be cheerful and polite on the phone."
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


TylerBelle

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 06:24:49 PM »
Generally speaking you can always ask but i doubt anyone would come out and say that's the reason. Do you think that your height is a problem to properly perform the jobs you are applying  for?Caue I have to say that it isn't necessarily something that would affect *my* decision in hiring someone. So if you are qualified for the job and not getting hired, perhaps there is another reason (maybe you are lacking confidence ?)

Have you tried working through an agency?
I would have said my limitations would mostly be needing to reach to high places, such as top shelves. And thinking most people would need a stool or ladder for that. Although as I was in the pharmacy recently, and as I waited, I saw the pharmacists there take documents from the top of a tall machine (copier? fax?), and seeing how average-sized folks there could reach that machine easily, made me think there can be more hinderances for me than first thought.

The majority of my interviews have been through agencies, but I've not had much success there. I admit I do have a tendency to get quite nervous, so I'd imagine that factors in as well. But I've not given up on going to them.

Would you work with customers?
I ask because they could be judging your size because they would be afraid their customers wouldn't like it  (that would be wrong and I think illegal at least here).
If you don't work with the public they might be 'uncomfortable' if they've never interacted with a X person (X being of a different race, gender identity, random disability..).
In that case you could proactively reassure them that you are quite capable of any task your job entails.
"As you can see on my resume I had X and Y position/job at firmW and never had any problem performing my duties or quickly learning new things. I've never let anything slow me down."

And this really depends on you/your job/ the company/the recruiter and all that, but sometimes a joke/laugh is the best icebreaker. 
Something like "and I come with my own step-stool!"* would likely tell the recruiter that you don't think your height matters and that there is always a way to work around it.


*I do not, by any mean, want to be callous or insensitive, self-deprecation humor is not for everyone and I apologize if I'm way out of lines and don't realize it.
Some of the job interviews, I have had, such as retail, with some of those would have been dealing with customers. I've had my appearance in mind of how it could be off-putting to some, but hoped I deal with it all right if I got the job, and I could learn to put customers more at ease. Though if I ask folks who've worked with the general public, especially for any length of time, I believe I'd hear how wacky the public can be, and they'd rather complain over the least little things than anything else ;). I like the step-stool icebreaker. And no, I don't find your comments insensitive or anything else similar. I'd rather hear what needs to be said.

What advice did the instructor give you to help counterbalance what she saw as a deficit? I mean, she did give you some advice about how to handle the issue, didn't she? or did she just drop that bombshell and say nothing more to you?

I think it depends on what type of job you are looking for. If it is something that is basically office or desk work, I don't see why your height would make a difference, if you are otherwise qualified for the position. If it's a job that requires heavy lifting or a lot of physical work, then I could see why an employer might not make you their first choice.

What sorts of questions do you get during interviews? Do you get the feeling that once they see you, they ask just enough questions to be polite and then usher you out the door, or do you get the sense that they are really interviewing you and asking questions to determine your skills and how you would handle problems in the job you are interviewing for?

Another thought--if you are in the US, your employer will be required to make accommodations for you, if you need them. They probably have a completely misguided idea about how much those accommodations would cost. I think the average cost is about $75 for an employee with physical disabilities (I'm not saying you are disabled, but that's the figure I have seen). While the average employer assumes that the accommodations will cost upwards of $500. These are figures I've seen in researching employment for the disabled. What you might be running into is people thinking that hiring you will cost their company money, if they have to alter the office environment so that you can work comfortably.

If you do need any accommodations, like a special chair or something, I do think it might help to bring that up during an interview. Make it a straightforward statement of fact, "As you can see, I do require a special chair/step stool/whatever, but that is the only accommodation I need in an office setting." Don't bring up your appearance per se, but do make a factual statement about what you need to do the job. If you don't need any accommodations, do state that. "As you can see, I'm a 'little person.' However, that in no way affects my ability to solve quadratic equations/balance the books/type at 150 words a minute/always be cheerful and polite on the phone."
I was told that I'd be hard to hire because my instructor had worked with another little person a few years prior in finding a job, and apparently proved quite the difficulty in job-getting, but did eventually have success. She did though over the course of the semester, did put me on to a job, too, alas it was temporary.   

Most of interviews have been for clerical, some for retail. I do feel like I'm just going through the motions for the majority of them. Such as typing tests, and the interviewer saying something as they'll be evaluating things and letting you know that they've got others to see, and afterward, I don't hear anything from them. With retail, I've gotten the questions as 'If I could change anything about the store, what would it be?' I want so much to answer with brilliance, but that doesn't happen often.

It may be also chalked up to me getting nervous, not knowing what to ask, etc. I'm pretty much an introverted, shy person, so that doesn't really work best in trying to 'sell yourself.' I have rarely done a check back after the interview, which I do want to show interest, though I'm always unsure of when and how to do so appropriately without looking a pest.

Tall equipment can be a problem, and perhaps also chairs. If it has a fairly high seat and on rollers, then it's not too easy to get into. But doable if I can find something to brace it against.

I want to say thanks much! It helps sharing and getting this feedback.   ;D ;D
Always be on the lookout for wonder. --E.B. White

Sharnita

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 06:33:23 PM »
I think that any employer who makes the decidion based on that probably won't admit it (maybe even to themselves).

Carotte

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 06:44:00 PM »

It may be also chalked up to me getting nervous, not knowing what to ask, etc. I'm pretty much an introverted, shy person, so that doesn't really work best in trying to 'sell yourself.' I have rarely done a check back after the interview, which I do want to show interest, though I'm always unsure of when and how to do so appropriately without looking a pest.


From what I had to read on it: if you sent your application by e-mail or through a website, it's a week to 10 days to 'remind' them. If you saw them in a face-to-face interview, the day after you can send a mail or call them to reiterate your interest in the job (and tell them that if they have any question or need a document or anything you would be happy to answer/supplie).

I was weary too of having to contact a second time, not wanting to bother, but the thing is, if they haven't contacted you again then they might have forgotten about you or made their mind, then you have absolutely nothing to loose and everything to gain by reminding them about you politely.
(that said I don't ever want to have to do this by phone, I'm quite shy too)

cheyne

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 08:56:19 PM »
TylerBelle, I wish you were in my area looking for clerical work.  If your other skills are as impressive as your grammar and punctuation, I would hire you in a heartbeat.  Office equipment like step stools and non-rolling chairs are cheap and easy to get-if that's the reason you are not being hired these companies are fools.

As for your nervousness in interviews-what I used to do is write my questions down the night before an interview.  I would review the questions that evening, again in the morning and right before I went into the interview.  That helped me to remember at least some of the questions I wanted to ask!

As for doing a "check back", I think Carotte nailed it.  I would use her timeline. 



POF

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 09:17:10 PM »
TylerBelle, I wish you were in my area looking for clerical work.  If your other skills are as impressive as your grammar and punctuation, I would hire you in a heartbeat.  Office equipment like step stools and non-rolling chairs are cheap and easy to get-if that's the reason you are not being hired these companies are fools.

As for your nervousness in interviews-what I used to do is write my questions down the night before an interview.  I would review the questions that evening, again in the morning and right before I went into the interview.  That helped me to remember at least some of the questions I wanted to ask!

As for doing a "check back", I think Carotte nailed it.  I would use her timeline.

I agree, you present yourself very well in this forum. You just haven't found the right fit yet.  I would definitely bring up the accommodations in a nice way.  I would mention, I'll need a XYZ step stool and this type of chair. Everything else I can manage just fine. The interviewer may feel awkward bringing it up.  Good Luck to you.


Promise

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 10:48:12 PM »
Something we had to track at the university I worked at was how many in our department were of which race/gender/disability/military. I had to hire about 45 people per year and truly looked at how to have a diverse group from among the best candidates. Who knows, a company wanting to expand their diverse workforce might look at your height as good for their business.

Pen^2

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 10:58:59 PM »
What others have said here is good advice.

There are a lot of people who will judge and not hire you based on your appearance, which is illegal and discriminatory, but they can always blame it on another factor if pressed for a reason. There isn't much you can do about these people, unfortunately. My husband, who isn't white, has had similar ones, where sometimes they even admitted the real reason in surprise when he walked in: "Oh! On the phone, you sounded more [nation], we didn't realise you were [other country he isn't from but has a vaguely similar ethnicity]. Let's see if we can work with you anyway..."

When applicants are screened at my workplace, appearance is not a factor, but presentation is. If your clothes are clean and hair is neat, then we're good to go. But this isn't the case with other places who are less... legal.

As long as you aren't going to suddenly apply for a job as a construction worker, what you're doing sounds fine. Nervousness sounds like it might be a factor also, but it's hard to say. Online, at least, your writing speaks volumes, so I hope that you can eventually find a job.

Cheyne's advice worked for me, too. I used to get super nervous, so I started writing down all the 'standard' interview questions I could think of and would then answer them aloud to myself a few times (not memorised, just to get used to saying certain points in a certain order). It helps a lot, because then when you're in a stressful situation, your brain can just default to what you practiced, and you don't have to act like a deer in the headlights. I found that for nearly all the questions they asked, I had an answer stored away somewhere that fit, even if it wasn't quite the same question as I'd anticipated. At worst, a question would be different enough that I would change a practiced answer a little on the spot, but that's much easier than making up the answer from scratch on the spot. Instead of mumbling and stuttering, I was able to cut to the chase and really sell myself. Anyway, if you think it might help with your nerves, feel free give it a go.

katycoo

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2013, 01:30:00 AM »
Don't ask anyone about your height - its a waste of time.  Even if it was a deciding factor i not giving you a job, they're defintely not going to tell you that.

My suggestion is to think about what limitations your height will bring to the particular job you're going for, and prepare premptive solutions to work around the problem.  If you're proactive, it shows them that you have initiative as well as reassuring them you're capable of doing the job.

Secondly, make sure you're carrying yourself well.  Body language says a lot, and even taller people who have poor posture are less likely to be good salespeople as posture comunicates confidence and trust.  You can have that regardless of your height.  Sell yourself.

TylerBelle

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2013, 05:24:59 PM »
Thank you so much! I can't help to gush with saying how much everything's helped. This has given much food for thought and sure lets me know it isn't all about appearance, that potential employers may not be marking me off as soon as I walk in the door, as most often been forefront on my mind. I've not talked much about this issue with the exception of immediate family and it's great to get other perspectives.
 
Being a little person is a issue for me to face with getting hired, but I see it doesn't have to be one so major. Shifting the focus elsewhere when interviewing, being prepared with questions, as cheyne suggested, also looking prepared for the overall presentation, and using icebreakers when needed are important things, too. Just knowing I've done well with what I've written in here is such a boost. Plus the steps of how to check back afterward which Carotte mentioned gives a confidence with actually doing so.
 
I believe I won't bluntly ask an interviewer if my appearance has already made up their mind. What could they say? I could hope for the answer of 'Oh, no, of course not! You're hired!' But it may not work out that way.
 
Again, much appreciation!! And I got to say, too, how fascinating it is to see the 'other side' - what employers and those hiring go through as Pen^2's thread describes. It's been quite the informative and amusing read.
Always be on the lookout for wonder. --E.B. White

Jocelyn

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2013, 06:18:50 PM »

 
I believe I won't bluntly ask an interviewer if my appearance has already made up their mind. What could they say? I could hope for the answer of 'Oh, no, of course not! You're hired!' But it may not work out that way.
 

Keep in mind that any place that would refuse to consider a little person as an employee is probably not a place where you want to work, anyway.  :D

But perhaps you could ask THEM, towards the end of the interview, when they ask if you have any questions, 'Do you have any concerns about my being able to do the required duties, considering my height? Perhaps I could remove some of those concerns, by specifically addressing how I've coping in similar settings in the past.'

Another poster said that in the US, employers would be required to make accommodations. I'm not sure that is true. They're required to make accommodations for certain specific disabilities. However, a much-shorter-than-average co-worker of mine is fond of saying that it's a condition, not a disability...I don't know if he's speaking in a legal sense, but I know that not all limitations are considered disabilities under the ADA.

*inviteseller

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Re: S/O Inappropriate Job Interviewees - Can't Help your Appearance
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2013, 06:40:44 PM »
Unless you are going for a fire/police position where they do usually have height/weight requirements, it is discrimination and there is no excuse they can give that makes it right.  We hired a woman who wore hearing aids and was 4'3" at best for our retail establishment.  As long as you are a qualified applicant for the position as far as experience and skill set, height should have nothing to do with it.