Interviewing Women

August 19, 2013 | interviewing

One of the things I learned from the interview processes I went through is that the presence of women is important. I present you with two different scenarios.

One: A large company with a number of well known and very talented female engineers and product managers on staff. The only women I spoke with during my entire interview process fetched me water and coordinated guest pass access to the building. I did not meet a single female employee who was not a recruiter. While they were all very lovely, kind women, I felt no connection to them because all I talked with them about was the weather. When I brought up the topic of female engineers in general, they started discussing a female product manager and how great she was.

Two: A mid-size company with a number of female engineers, engineering managers, product managers, and technical support team members. I did not interview with any women, but I was introduced to many members of the engineering team during my visit, including a number of women. While I also felt no connection to them, it was due to the brevity of our interaction, not because of their role at the company. When I brought up the topic of female engineers in general, they said they had quite a few and appreciate the value of a diverse work force in all aspects.

Even though I spent less time talking to the women at Company Two, the interactions I had with them were more meaningful. I don’t need to talk to women, or see women, or even have any women there to want to work at a company.

But when the only interaction I had with the women you employ is what equates to them running errands, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I will come to work for you.

And it’s not because you have female recruiters. That’s not why. It’s because I’m passionate about diversity in engineering. It’s one of the first things out of my mouth during every interview process. For a company to listen to me say that numerous times and create that interview experience says to me that they really don’t care about me as an individual human being with interests outside of hacking. Or much much worse, that they don’t care about diversity in engineering.

(For what it’s worth: you don’t have to employ women engineers to care about diversity. You just have to genuinely, honestly care about diversity.)