5 Interviewing Tips for Transgender and Non-Binary People

Updated April 20, 2023

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. In the largest survey on the experience of transgender people in the United States by The National Center for Transgender Equality, the U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), found that in 2015, 27% of respondents who held or applied for a job that year reported being fired, denied a promotion or not being hired for a job they applied for because of their gender identity or expression.

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.

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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 can help to ease the confusion, but due to the costs associated with the process, removing a deadname may not be an option everyone can take. According to the USTS, 32% of respondents who have “shown an ID with a name or gender that did not match their gender presentation were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted.”

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 resume, 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 National Center for Transgender Equality has helpful resources to help you learn more about the name change process in each state.

Practice to regain confidence

Practicing 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 practice 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 apologize and shift the focus back to showcasing your relevant experience and skills.

Practice 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, practice answering a mix of general, behavioral, 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 behavioral 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."

Related: 7 Sample Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

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 colors that are appropriate for in-person and virtual interviews.

Practice self-care

After an interview, it can be helpful to take some time to practice self-care. Because you can experience emotional triggers from conscious or unconscious biases, practice 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.

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 U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission outlines that it is illegal for employers to deny employment or permit harassment in situations including when a woman does not dress or talk in a feminine manner, a man dresses in an effeminate manner or an employee or job applicant is planning or has made a gender transition from female to male or male to female.

If you feel like you have experienced discrimination in your interview you may consider reaching out to an organization that provides transgender legal services.

Additional resources include:

  • National Center for Transgender Equality

  • Transgender Law Center

  • Gender Proud

  • Sylvia Rivera Law Project

  • Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund


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