Family – To put it bluntly, married applicants with children are something of a liability. They take more time off work, expect to earn more, need more insurance, and often place their priority on family, rather than career. While there’s nothing wrong with that, if an employer is forced to choose between a married, and unmarried applicant, it’s an easy choice as far as money is concerned. Make sure that you keep all family information as private as possible in an interview. Employers can’t legally ask your marital status, so don’t volunteer anything you don’t have to. Force them to choose based on merit, rather than on convenience.
Gender – There is a lot of gender discrimination going on in the workplace, but not in the way many would assume. Sometimes an employer will bring their own preconceptions into an interview. For example, some employers prefer female employees because they’re viewed as more personable, dependable, and statistically, women are less likely to ask for raises. Some employers prefer male employees, because they think they will be more aggressive, and more willing to take charge of projects. If possible, show up to the interview early, and try to meet a few people in the office if anyone is accessible. Get a feel for the gender mix and the personality type of the employees that already work there, and do your best to project that personality in the interview.
Age – Young or old, there are a lot of hang-ups employers have in regard to age. Every employer wants someone who’s there to work long-term, because training a new employee is an expensive investment. If you’re very young, you may not have much experience, but what the interviewer will really be looking for is you potential anyway. They may not be keen on hearing that you intend to return to college, or that you are planning on getting married soon – these are all things that could make you leave. Never volunteer more information about your personal life than absolutely necessary. Also, if you are reaching social security age, make it clear that this *is* your retirement, and that you have no plans to stop working any time soon.
Education – Often, a college degree means absolutely nothing in terms of how prepared you are for a job, but it does show that you are educated, not to mention able to make it through four years of disciplined study. Those without a degree will have to work twice as hard to seem more educated than their degreed peers, and that means going the extra mile. If you don’t have a degree, make sure your resume includes plenty of relevant educational experience, like managerial training, classes you’ve taken, and specific work training courses. It may also help to work with a public speaking coach for a few sessions, in order to help you articulate yourself well, and maybe even quash a strong dialect, if you have one. Dress is also important. Having an off-the-rack suit tailored for you is a cheap and good way to look well put together. If you look affluent and successful, it will help remove the stigma that those without a college degree are doomed to be stuck in blue collar jobs.
Regardless of the job you’re looking for, do your research. Get a feel for the company, and try to look at as many current employees as you can. Try to find any common threads between them, and use that to your advantage. If nothing else, the more you look like you already belong in the office, the easier it will be for the employer to imagine you as part of the team.