In today’s episode we’ll continue where we left off in How to Survive as a Muslim Woman in Tech. This time, we’ll focus on the job interview as a point where you can get a sense of whether the company will be a safe place for you. A place where you can thrive being yourself without any compromises.
I’ll go through over 20 questions that can help you figure out what you want in a company and if the company you’re interviewing for fits that ideal.
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Key Lessons from this Episode
- Questions to identify the purpose you want to have at work and if this company aligns with that purpose 4:30
- What kind of team do you want to be a part of? 9:03
- Does the pace at this company fit with the work-life balance you want for yourself? 12:28
As Salaamu-Alaikum, you’re listening to Tech Sisters stories. Tech Sisters is a community that supports Muslim women in tech, through storytelling and sisterhood. My name is grace. And today we’re having another special solo episode. This is the continuation of something that we’ve talked about in the last two episodes. Really.
So we were talking about surviving as a Muslim woman in tech. And then last episode with Sadiqah, one of the points that she made was talking about the interview process and setting your boundaries. And how this is a really good time for the interviewees to turn the tables and interview the company. So that’s what we’ll be focusing on today. inshAllah.
And I do have a very special community announcement at the end of this episode. So make sure you listen to the whole thing. It is really exciting. This is, it’s a deal that we’ve been working on for a while. So yeah, I’m really excited about it. stick around to the end and You’ll find out what it is.
have you ever spent a lot of time and energy preparing for an interview? Doing lots of practice questions for your technical test. Really trying to make yourself look polished and absolutely the best fit that they can possibly have.
Only to get the job. So that seems great. But then you get in there and the company is not right. And, you know, it immediately. It’s just not a good fit for you. Has that ever happened to you? Because it has definitely happened to me. I know this is something, a lot of people in our community are worried about.
This is a question that we hear a lot is how can I make sure that the company that I joined isn’t going to be a bad place. Isn’t going to be somewhere where I feel like I’m not going to be able to pray. I’m not going to have flexibility around my childcare. Maybe the time tracking that they do is going to feel really oppressive.
Whatever, whatever it is how can we figure out what the company is going to be like before we join. And the interview stage is the best place for that.
Remember in our last episode, Sadiqah said this about the interview process and how it’s the perfect time to interview your prospective company.
Don’t forget that when you’re interviewing for a role, it isn’t just for the interview for the companies to interview you.
It’s also you as an individual to interview them, to figure out if this is the right environment for me, my family and my faith. And how are they going to accept this from me? It’s an , interview or a mutual relationship or contract that you’re going to go into.
The interview isn’t just about convincing people that you’re the right person for the job. But it’s your chance to find out if it’s the right place for you. It’s your chance to find out if this company is aligned with your values, if it’s aligned with your vision. If these are the right people that you want to work with.
Is this is the kind of pace that’s going to fit in with the balance that you want to have in your life and with your kids and with your family. If this place is going to respect your boundaries, if you’re going to feel comfortable being who you are. Is this going to be a place where you feel like you have to mask or code switch?
To what degree do you feel comfortable doing that? What are you expecting to get out of that company? What are you willing to accept to tolerate. And what are you not willing? Where are those hard lines that you just definitely don’t want to cross?
Before you can ask those in an interview though, you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. So as I go through this episode I’ll be structuring it as questions to ask yourself and questions to ask the company. So this might be for anyone who likes journaling. This might be a really fun one.
A lot of the questions that I had from here were really inspired by. And Hyatt’s article how to figure out what you want next in your career from the Harvard business review. And I’ve linked that in the show notes. I thought that the questions that she was asking.
And how she structured. It is something that would really work well with What we’re talking about as a community in terms of being safe and finding. A sense of belonging, a sense of safety and security. And a place that we feel comfortable in. And comfortable in being ourselves. Bringing our whole selves to work.
And she breaks it down into the three P’s. Purpose people and pace.
So purpose is a very big word. What does that even mean? Purpose really just amounts to who do you want to serve and empower and how do you want to do that? From the Muslim perspective, I think it is, what kind of impact do we want to make? How do we want to use the skills and the abilities that we were given. And how can we use that to best serve the ummah. How can we use that to best serve? You know, the life that we’re in, how can we use these gifts in a way that’s most befitting for them?
If we think about everything in terms ihshan and doing right by what we were given by Allah subhanAllah wa taala. Then it really adds a different I don’t know, it feels for me, it feels like there’s a new level of importance. When I think about applying the skills that I have. And doing it with such excellence. In a way that brings a lot of benefit. Another way you can think about this is what is your legacy going to be? What do you want people to remember you for? What impact do you want to have on people’s lives? Or on the world or on the environment or on animals .
What do you want to leave behind?
You can also think about it. It’s like, what, what are you most proud of, of what you’ve accomplished so far? What do you feel most expansive. What was something that you were able to get into a flow state where you love working on it? Just for the sake of that thing alone, and you would happily work on it.
Just because in your spare time, because you like it. So that’s the kind of work environment that would be best to be in. Right. That would be ideal if we could find a workplace that’s really aligned with the kind of work that we feel so happy and so purposeful in doing.
So that would be amazing. If we could find a place that fits. All of that. Exactly. But I think realistically it’s challenging, but we can definitely find places that are aligned or that at least at a very minimum. I don’t come into conflict with our values and our purpose. So if. If we feel most purposeful in doing work that benefits the environment.
Then we probably would not want to work for a company that is actively harming the environment. If one of our purposes is that we want to work the benefit ummah, then working at a company that The technology is being used to harm. the ummah would not be. Yeah, a great place. you probably wouldn’t feel very happy working in that environment.
What causes capture your attention? Call you to action. How do you want to spend your time, money and influence in service of your core values? What actions, expertise and contributions make up your ideal legacy.
And in the interview, what you could ask. What passions and purpose aligns the team members outside of their work responsibilities. What goals drive top performers at this company. And what legacy is the company or the team aimed at creating.
And. I think just to put it out there. The best interviews that I’ve ever participated in on both sides of the table. Are ones that have turned into a really dynamic conversation. So if you’re listening to those questions that I’ve just read and I’ll be reading other challenging questions to ask your prospective company to interview them.
And you’re feeling that might be a little bit weird to ask an interview setting. I, it, I think it would be fun. I think it would be fun to challenge companies with questions like that. And I think as an interviewer it would definitely be different. It’s really fun to have the interviewees ask questions especially questions that are showing purpose and are showing more layers to that person’s character and who they are as a person a depth to their story. As an interviewer that helps understand. That dynamic of that person, what their motivations are.
So these are, I would encourage. To ask these questions, even if it does feel a little bit awkward. Maybe pick your favorite one and start there. But these would, I think these would all lead to a really great conversation. inshAllah anyway.
So the next point is people. We talked about the purpose and then we’ll talk about people. So who do you want to work for? Or who do you want to work with? What do you want on your team?
There’s a saying that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And in our tradition, there’s lots and lots of hadeeth about the importance of keeping good company.
The team that you’re with has a really big impact on your satisfaction with a company. The kind of people that you’re going to be working with. They’ll impact your skill development. The leadership that you’ll see in your team is going to impact. , the ways that you’ll see what is good leadership? Right?
And then your overall experience is going to be impacted. So is this a team that’s going to be. Opening the doors of opportunity for you. Is this a team that’s going to be really focused on mentoring and teaching you the things that you need? Are they going to expect you to put in extra hours, are they going to. Be really focused on tracking time. On so many meetings.
Yeah, these are all elements that are good to know beforehand.
When you’re thinking about the kind of people that you want to work with. Be with the people that you like and who bring out the best in you. So imagine a team where you all inspire each other to be better team members. And also better human beings. And you all help each other reach better opportunities.
So some questions to ask yourself. What circle of people embody your ideals for ambition, balance, expertise, and priorities.
What are the names of leaders? And these can be leaders in the company or in our community or world leaders, people that you are really respected, admire who have the skills and reputation that you hope to develop. What mentors and sponsors do you need in place to create accountability and opportunities?
And when you’re in the interview you can ask what employee attributes are most effective in this organization.
In what ways does this team invest in the development and education of employees in the longterm.
What are the short and longterm priorities for performance in this role?
How are criticism and feedback handled within the team?
What is the main reason employees stay at or leave the company? This can be a little bit challenging. But if the company answers this, then it means that they have a really good sense of what feedback they’re getting from employees on their exit interviews. And what kind of actions they’re taking about that? You will also show you if they’re being honest.
Do you have any employee resource groups? And how might they support the diversity and inclusion work? Is this company going to be something that is supporting your identity . This is what we were talking about and the how to survive as a Muslim woman in tech episode. A lot of us listening to this have multiple identities that are going to be different from the mainstream. So does this company or team have anything in place to support you in that
We talked about the purpose. We talked about the people. You know, the third P is pace. How fast. Is the work going to be, how is this going to fit in with the existing demands on your time. If you’re married, how’s this going to fit in with your married life? Or if you have kids, how is this going to fit in with your family?
If you have, you know, if you’re a human, how’s this going to fit in with your hobbies, with how you spend your time. Do you want to spend a lot of time at work finishing projects? Do you want to have a more laid back stance.
So some questions to ask yourself. How frequently do you want to be expected to Uplevel your skills and expertise during this phase of your career?
So it’s totally fine to go through different phases. But right now, do you feel like you have the capacity or the bandwidth to invest a lot in upscaling or are you okay with that right now? What is your ideal timeline for progression? Do you want to, to advance really quickly? Like a sprint or are you more in a marathon?
And what role do you want to play in making changes and contributions? Do you want to lead from the front? Do you feel like right now you’re in more of a supportive season?
So, how are you feeling about the pace that you want from your job?
And here’s some questions for the interview.
How, and when are the key results incentivize and measured on this team?
How does management react to teammates who are underperforming and struggling?
And How are the super performers guided towards advancement in a way from burnout. I think that second part is really important.
And here’s another. The same idea that more challenging. When was the last time you promoted somebody within your team? Why were they promoted?
Maybe a more fun in general and what makes it a great day and what makes it a challenging day at work?
Okay. We talked about purpose, We talked about people, We talked about pace. Here’s a bonus one. The boundaries.
What are your non-negotiables? What are the things that you are willing to negotiate on? Do you need to have a prayer space at the office? Or are you able to work out agreement to go to the local masjid to do your prayers? Or to go sit in your car.
What kind of arrangements do you need to have with your childcare? And are they going to be understanding if something comes up.
You don’t want to be in a situation where. Your childminder is sick and your work is not understanding. And you don’t, you have to choose between. Your work and your family, you never want to have something like that.
So how understanding are they going to be about the time that you need. Also, you know, with kids. Things just come up. Isn’t it. They need to be picked up from school early. They have all their clubs and activities. Yeah. So how flexible is work going to be with that?
If you’re somebody who really loves working from home is this company. Going to allow you to work in a space that you really like, are they going to be supportive of that? Are they going to make you come into the office more than you want to.
Yeah. So, so think about the things that would make you really uncomfortable. If you were in that situation. Maybe you wear niqab and one of your boundaries is that you definitely don’t want to compromise on what you wear. So that would be something to have very clear and early on in the interview process. And. Weed out anybody who would feel weird about. Working with somebody who covers.
Cause if they’re feeling weird about it in the interview process, then working with them would be a very unpleasant experience.
And talking about the boundaries and laying those out clearly in the interview stage. Would make it easier to bring up later on. So she’s saying in the interview that I pray five times a day. Two of those are going to be happening during the working hours. So I’m going to need a prayer space, or I need you to understand that I need 15 minutes. To do my prayers. Is that going to be cool. And then later when you start the job. You can tell them, all right, this is my time to pray. I need to do this. And that would, hopefully that will be accommodated for it’s a lot easier to make accommodations when you lay it out in advance rather than.
Suddenly announced them. It’s easier for the company to adjust. And it’s easier for you. Because it’s hard to have those big conversations out of nowhere. And it can be pretty scary. So just laying it out at the interview stage where it’s it’s. Okay. You’re still testing each other out. That’s a good, safe place of doing it.
Yeah, similar with the kids. Or any other, I feel like I’m using kids a lot in the samples, but. Anything else that is a boundary for you? That’s the time to talk about it and. To have those conversations early on. So that they don’t rise up and become a bigger issue later.
. I gave you a list. I gave you A lot of questions.
Hopefully, some of those are useful for you. So those are questions that you could ask yourself and ask the interviewers. To figure out one what you actually want, what kind of purpose? What pace, what people you want. For your company and then. Questions, you can ask the interviewers to figure out if that company matches your values, if it’s aligned with what you want. If this is going to be a place for your feeling safe and comfortable and confident being yourself.
Also just remember that all of these. re going to change over time. So your answers to all of those are probably not going to be the same five years from now. And I’m sure that they’re not the same from. Where you were five years ago.
Our goals, change and evolve our life circumstances. Our perspective on life evolves. So it’s good to check in and reevaluate. If these are, if this is still what you want in your career. And if this is still a place where you want to be.
And. It’s okay if you ask these questions in the interview and you feel like it’s, everything’s going fine. But then you get there and it still doesn’t feel like the right fit. That’s okay, too, that happens.
It’s still an experience, right? It can do what Shabana was saying in our very first episode is treat everything with a project based mindset. So remember why you’re there and what you want to gain from the experience.
It’s very likely that we won’t find the perfect fit. But asking these questions and being very clear. To yourself about what you need, and then communicating that very clearly with the company that you intend to go to. We’ll make that a lot smoother. Will.
Increase the chances of you finding a company that you feel very comfortable at, comfortable and safe.
And yeah.inshAllah. I don’t know. What do you think about these questions? Do you think any of them are too weird? Have you ever asked anything like this? How did it go? I’d love to hear it. You think.
As always thank you very much for taking the time to listen . Please consider following us and leaving your review. If you liked the episode that really helps more people discover the podcast. More people discover Tech Sisters alhamdulillah . And if you’re a Muslim woman in tech, Please go ahead and join a community. We have a really fun slack. There’s a lot of conversations going on there.
We just had a really beautiful discussion thread. About the most challenging thing we’ve ever gone through and what got us through that. It’s really nice to hear. Other peoples. What we’ve gone through and how strong we are as a community mashallah. I really treasure. Conversations like that.
So if that’s something that you would be interested in. Discussion threads, meeting other Muslim women in tech. Come and join us. It’s really fun. As completely free. alhamdulillah . .
And now for that surprise announcement. I’m really happy to tell you that Tech Sisters is partnering with product guru. Product guru offers short one-to-one courses on product design, product management and product development.
Put together to create powerful learning experiences with tangible outcomes at small prices
Product guru is committed to giving back to the community and they very generously approached us to offer a full scholarship to a Tech Sisters member on one of their courses. So if you’re somebody who is interested in product,
This is a really great opportunity for you. This is a really good value. And this is something that could really help your career because this is great knowledge to take on into any application. Really a mashallah. There is a application that I, that will be going live today. It’s going to be available in the slack and in the newsletter.
So you’ll see that there. The application will close next Friday. Which will be the 19th inshallah. So the application is open until the 19th. At which time we’ll announce the winner of the scholarship. . And we’ll announce that very soon after the application closes. Yeah. So alhamdulillah really happy for that.
Let me know how you enjoyed the episode.
I’m always very happy to hear what you think and let me know what else you would like for these solo episodes. How else I can help you? What questions you’d like answered. To the best of my ability. And I will see you next week with a new interview. Inshallah. All right. as salaamu alikum