It’s Pride month, and in between festivities, you may also… need a new job. Interviewing as an underrepresented minority, whether because of gender presentation or sexual orientation, or national origin, physical or cognitive impairment, or unconventional professional background, can all lead to the interview process being more anxiety-producing than it needs to be. What can interviewers ask you? Do you have to answer? How do you figure out if the company you are interviewing with is one you should consider joining?

To find answers, we spoke to the best experts we know in candidate advocacy: CircleCI’s Recruiting team. They care deeply about mitigating bias in the recruiting process, and have tips for you on how to advocate for yourself, resources you should take advantage of, and how to make the interview process work best for you – no matter where you’re interviewing.

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How do I know if a company has a good culture? Am I allowed to ask about work-life balance?

Culture is very personal; there are no hard and fast rules. What’s important is finding a culture that will work for you, support you, and help you do your best work. The more familiar you are with your own personal boundaries and dealbreakers, the better equipped you’ll be to discern important pieces of the company’s culture in your interview process. Spend some time figuring out what they are, and write them down so you can bring them to your interviews and keep them top of mind.

If you want to know if companies respect your preferred pronouns, and you feel comfortable doing so, put them on your LinkedIn, on your resume, etc. See who reaches out to you.

Ask about benefits. For example, CircleCI offers PTO and medical coverage for transition-related procedures, as well as coverage for same-sex dependants. Ask if the company you’re applying to has ERGs (employee resource groups), or any special benefits that may be of interest to you. If you see something on their careers page, know that you can ask about it. Likewise, if you don’t see it, you can and should ask about it.

In my last round of interviews before joining CircleCI, I remember thinking to myself: ‘I deserve [this, this, and this]. I set the bar there. That may narrow my window of companies, but I’m looking for a place where I can grow and thrive and be the best person I can be.’ Don’t be afraid to do that (if you’re able to financially). You might end up with something really amazing. Steph Nys (they/them), Engineering Sourcer, CircleCI

Your recruiter will likely talk about culture, but probably only from what they’ve personally observed or experienced. If you want to know more about what life is really like on the team, ask the hiring manager. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask them a question like: “Tell me about your team’s working hours. If hired, when would you expect me to start my day?”

I’ve seen some positive/negative/concerning reviews on Glassdoor. Should I trust them?

Like any review site, statements on Glassdoor should be taken as one person’s - the reviewer’s - experience (as well as with a healthy grain of salt). There is no reason to discount or write off any one person’s experience, positive or negative - everyone’s personal experience is subjective. If you see something that especially grabs your attention, whether positive or negative, you can absolutely follow up with your interviewers to find out more context. Say something like “I saw a review on Glassdoor that mentioned __. Can you tell me more about that?” There’s always more than one side to a story. In addition to reviews, Glassdoor can be a helpful place to find general information about salary bands and benefits, but be aware that this data is self-reported and not always accurate. This can be a great resource if you’re moving into a new industry or role, and want to know what to expect in terms of compensation. Speaking of compensation…

Do I have to tell recruiters how much I currently get paid?

Nope. No. N-O. You do not have to answer this question, or questions about compensation in any previous roles. Feel free to say “I would prefer not to disclose that,” or “The salary range I’m looking for is _____.” It’s also okay to say you don’t know (pro tip: if you’re not sure, you can say you don’t know what salary you’re looking for, but that you want to be paid the fair market value for the role)

Advocating for yourself is hard, it’s learned. If you feel comfortable with your recruiter, help them to advocate for you as well. Kacey Aumack (she/her), Senior Recruiter, CircleCI

You are allowed to ask the recruiter what the salary band for the role is; they are obligated to tell you. That said, any questions about compensation should be directed to your recruiter and not to the hiring manager or other members of the interview panel. They most often don’t have visibility into salary bands and won’t be able to give you the information you’re looking for.

Are recruiters allowed to ask me about __?

Recruiters cannot ask about:

  • Country of origin
  • Racial/ethnic background
  • Religious affiliation
  • Ability/disability status
  • Marital or family status
  • Sexual orientation

Recruiters can and will ask if you need visa-related support. This is because this is something that some companies are equipped to offer, and some are not.

If you do get a question from this list, or any other question that you don’t want to answer, you can simply say, “I don’t feel comfortable answering that.”

Look for the company that makes you feel good and feel like they’re trying. Interviewing is a human process, and so many companies are trying to get better. They may not be perfect in the interview process. If you get the sense that they’re trying to get better, that’s a good sign. In fact, you joining them might help! Lauren O'Neill (she/her), Director of Recruiting, CircleCI