Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: V&V
Last month I applied for a position at a large and respected company in Prague. After an initial screening, the HR manager invited me out for dinner. I assumed that he just wanted to get to know applicants better by meeting in a casual environment. However, after dinner and a few drinks, he made blatant sexual advances toward me.
This is a man who is clearly abusing his position of power for personal gain; you are probably not his first nor last victim. Most likely, he had no intention of hiring you unless you paid him with sexual favors. The HR manager is the first and often only exposure candidates have to a firm. If a company allows an HR manager to behave in this fashion, then there may be other unhealthy flaws in the company’s corporate culture. Never assume that companies with nice marketing campaigns are the best places to work.
It’s not always possible to completely avoid situations like this, but it may be helpful to assess the situation to see if there are warning signs, and thus avoid unnecessary complications.
- If possible, speak to employees and other candidates that have applied to this firm to find out if they have had experiences that warrant caution.
- Pay attention to the person interviewing you. Try to determine how serious he or she is about the questioning process. Is he more interested in you than what you say? What is his body language saying to you? What are his eyes doing?
- People of this nature feel powerful when they can take advantage of a person’s weakness. Perhaps you came across as confused or unsure of yourself during the initial screening process. Projecting self-confidence and determination even when you feel weak will keep the wolves at bay.
- Try to avoid too much friendly conversation in the beginning. Telling them all about yourself gives them an opportunity to uncover weaknesses that they can use against you at a later date.
- Maintain conservative business dress. Avoid short skirts, revealing blouses, heavy make-up and sexy shoes.
- Exposure is the best remedy. Report suggestive comments and inappropriate behavior to his supervisor immediately. Tell your colleagues what happened.
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive Director, LeMoine & Associates