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by AnnaMarie Houlis via Fairygodboss | October 22, 2018


interview over coffee

You got a call back for a job interview—congratulations! Your next move is to practice answering interview questions and research the company, while remembering that an interview is a two-way street. As much as a company needs to decide on you, you need to decide on it.

And so, in your interview, make sure to pay attention to subtleties that'll give you insight about whether or not the company is a good fit for you. One determining factor should be how well a company seems to treat women. So here are some red flags to look out for that signal a company doesn't treat women well.

1. Your interviewer calls women in the office "girls"

Calling women "girls" is condescending and negates the professionalism of women in the office. It's a form of benevolent sexism, which might seem innocent but is rooted in paternalistic prejudice (treating a lower status group as a father might treat a child). You'll seldom hear anyone referring to men in the office as "boys," after all.

2. There's a noticeable lack of women in the office

If there are few women in the office, it may be because the company doesn't hire them or because a company does hire them but few women stick around. A company that treats women well is one that's committed to diversity, and that will be obvious by the looks of the place before all else.

3. There's a noticeable lack of women in leadership positions

Likewise, if you don't notice many women in leadership positions, it might be a red flag that the company doesn't promote women. Studies show that there are far more men in leadership than women, but the companies that do promote women find success. Women currently hold just 5 percent of the CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. There's a ton of room for improvement here, and any company with a commitment to diversity and an understanding of how to attract and retain female talent will give women equal opportunities to move up. And they'll also understand that more women in management is even profitable.

4. Your interviewer asks about your family plans

It's considered discriminatory behavior for an interviewer to ask women about their family plans during the interview process. Asking questions on this topic lead to charges of discrimination, an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and, if necessary, a lawsuit.

5. The office floorplan makes you uncomfortable

Studies show that office floorplans can have a major impact on how women feel in their workspaces. Open floorplans, for example, give some women an uneasy feeling that they're always being watched. Open floorplans have also been criticized for making hierarchal structures less obvious, so women who do hold leadership positions aren't met with as much respect. And open floorplans can cause people to dress differently to make their status known.

6. Your interviewer touts your personality over your experience

If interviewers have done research on you and comment on your personality that they got a feel for through your social media channels or just from speaking with you off the bat, it might seem like a compliment. But if they neglect to comment on your experiences and why you'd be a great fit for the role for which you're applying, that's a red flag. This puts you in a box of prescribed gender roles—studies show that women are deemed more "likable" when they subscribe to passivity because it's stereotypical and expected. You don't want to work for someone who puts you in a box instead of applauding your hard work.

7. There's no clear room for growth

If there's no room for growth, you might want to reconsider the company altogether. Women have a hard enough time moving up in companies, so if you ask them where they'd see you in five years if you perform well, and they don't have answers for you, that might mean you'll be in the same spot.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.