5 Interviewing Tips for Transgender and Non-Binary People

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Interviewing can be one of the most stressful parts of the job search process for any person, and as a transgender or non-binary person, it can feel doubly so when you include the layers of added stress around bias and gender identity. Research in 2018 from Stonewall, a British organization for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, reveals troubling discrimination in Britain’s workplaces. Based on the experiences of more than 800 trans and non-binary people who took part in the “LGBT in Britain - Trans Report”, half of trans people (51%) have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination. The study looks at the various forms of discrimination that trans people face in their daily lives. 

While there may be stress that is hard to prepare for, here are some tips that transgender and non-binary people can apply that might help alleviate some of the challenges around gender expression in a job interview.

1. Reinforce your true name and pronouns

A piece of information as simple as a name can be a major cause of confusion for a transgender person in the interview process. Aligning your name across all legal documents, such as birth certificates or passports, can help to ease the confusion, but due to the costs and complexity associated with the process, removing a deadname may not be an option everyone can take. In another report from Stonewall, “LGBT in Britain - Work Report”, respondents reported facing discrimination when the birth name on their legal documents didn’t match their true name. 

There are some simple steps that you can take before you get to the interview stage to help alleviate some of this confusion. In an interview with Amira Sounny-Slitine, a career coach with Happy Onion Collaborative with a special interest in working with LGBTQIA+ job seekers, she recommends, “If you have specific pronouns you want the employer to use, write the interviewer an email before the interview stating that you are excited to meet them and sign off with your name and pronouns at the bottom of the email. This will allow the interviewer to know your pronouns before meeting you.”

To reinforce the pronouns you use, consider adding them across all of your job application documents including below your name on your CV, in your cover letter in parentheses after your name with your contact information and your email signature in all communication with a recruiter or hiring manager.

The LGBT Foundation has helpful resources to help you learn more about the name change process in the UK. 

2. Practise to regain confidence

Practising before an interview is an important part of the preparation process for any person, and it can be especially important for transgender people. While you may experience biases that you cannot fully prepare for, here are two scenarios you can practise that might help you feel more confident on the day of your interview.

Prepare to professionally correct misgendering

The use of correct pronouns has been cited as indicative of whether the user is respecting a person’s gender identity. One potential occurrence that can happen in an interview is misgendering. Misgendering is when a person incorrectly identifies the gender of a person.

In a professional interview, it is best to assume that misgendering is a mistake and not done purposefully. If this happens in your interview, here are two simple steps you can take to be an advocate for yourself in a professional way and get the interview back on track:

  • Politely correct the interviewer immediately after the wrong pronoun is used by saying something like, “Actually, it’s Ms. not Mr.” or “Actually, I use he/him pronouns.”

  • Offer a kind smile and move forward with the interview.

In reality, the interviewer may be embarrassed by their mistake, so the goal is to correct the situation quickly, give the opportunity to apologise and shift the focus back to showcasing your relevant experience and skills.

Practise common interview questions to feel confident when distracted

No matter how qualified you may be for the role, during an interview, there may be lingering thoughts about whether your gender expression is matching your gender identity.

Feeling confident about how you’re articulating your skills and experience may help to alleviate some of the stress that occurs around gender identity during the interview. To build that confidence, practise answering a mix of general, behavioural, situational and, if applicable, technical questions that pertain to your industry either alone or with someone you trust.

Some examples of common interview questions to expect might be:

  • "Tell me a little bit about yourself."

  • "What do you know about this company?"

  • "Why did you apply for the role?"

Common behavioural interview questions that you can prepare for may include:

  • "Tell me about a time when you handled a challenging situation."

  • "Tell me about a mistake that you've made and what you learned."

  • "Tell me about a time you went beyond the call of duty."

3. Wear what’s comfortable

When choosing an interview outfit, aim to wear clothing that is professional, comfortable and lets you feel like your authentic self. You will feel more confident wearing clothing that you can move and express yourself in. A good practice when deciding what to wear to an interview is to research the company’s website and see how formal their workplace is. If it makes sense for you, consider gender-neutral clothing like slacks and button-down shirts in neutral colours that are appropriate for in-person and virtual interviews.

4. Practise self-care

After an interview, it can be helpful to take some time to practise self-care. Because you can experience emotional triggers from conscious or unconscious biases, practise using relaxation techniques like meditation and breathing exercises to center yourself. It can also be helpful to connect with your support system and debrief about the interview with someone you trust.

5. Know your rights, resources and when to take action against discrimination

While there is a certain level of discomfort that comes with interviewing in general, transgender and non-binary people may experience sex-based discrimination during the process that they may be protected from. The Equality Act 2010 (England, Scotland and Wales) protects against discrimination because of gender reassignment in employment and service delivery. It covers all sizes and types of employers and all types of workers, including agency, contract and temporary workers. It bans direct and indirect discrimination and victimisation.

For more information on addressing discrimination, check out https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-and-advice.

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