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“Lean In” During Your Interview Process


There is much to be learned from Sheryl Sandberg’s books, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and “Lean In for Graduates.” She offers great insight and advice for women in all facets of their lives.  When applied to women going through the interview processes, there are important concepts that women can apply.

Here are some tips to “Lean In” during your interview process:

1. Never doubt pursuing a job - go for it! 

Women tend to worry whether they are a perfect match for a position while men are more inclined to put themselves out there. Sheryl points out, “Most men will apply for jobs if they think they meet just 60 percent of the job requirements, while women will apply only if they think they meet all of them. Now who’s got a better chance of getting that job?”

We should be adopting the same principle for opportunities at work. Women miss out on a lot of opportunities because men are much more inclined to pursue promotional opportunities within their own companies. So next time you hear of an opportunity, make sure to let your manager know you’re interested in taking on additional responsibility.

2. Shift from a 'What do I get?' to a 'What can I offer?' mindset.

Sheryl suggests that “most job seekers fall into the trap of focusing on what an organization will do for them, when in actuality, putting the company’s needs front and center is what really gets you noticed.”

During the hiring process, there are several opportunities to set yourself apart. Almost everyone breezes over the company website before an interview but if you really do your research, and point out during your interview some details pertaining to the industry/competitors, it will make a lasting impression. Taking it one step further - if you share an idea or two that may make a positive impact, backed up by facts and experiences, it will exude confidence.

3. Be confident during the interview - expect to be selected.

Unfortunately, “women tend to underestimate their performance, while men tend to overestimate their performance. And while men attribute their success to innate skills, women often point to external factors like luck and help from others.” When you arrive at an interview wondering whether you have the right to be there, remember that you earned that seat at the table. You are there for a reason. Push past your insecurities and own it!

4. Be prepared to speak to your achievements – what did YOU do to make an impact? 

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Many women are fearful that taking credit for an achievement will sound arrogant. It is great to acknowledge that the team did their part, but speak to your own achievements.

5. Negotiate. 

You won’t get what you want if you never ask for it. Sheryl points out that the wage gap starts early. “A recent study found that women in their first year out of college were paid $0.82 for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.” Society expects women to be communal and collaborative when advocating for themselves. Whether it is fair or not, women get better results when they emphasize a concern for organizational relationships. For example, you might say, ‘If I join the team, I will do my best to contribute to its success. It’s important that my salary reflects the education and skills that will enable me to do this,’ instead of, 'The team needs me in order to succeed and with the demand for my skill set, I deserve a greater salary.’ The hiring manager already knows your skill set, they brought you in for the interview. Instead, speak to how you will contribute to the team's success.

If you haven't purchased your copy of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” you should. There's no excuse for gender inequality in the workforce, but in order to mitigate the gender gap, we must be the change. "Lean In" and apply these tips beyond the interview process. 


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