Norms are codes or unwritten rules about how we should be, act and look and what is normal and desirable. Norms are often perceived as truths and become visible only when someone violates them.
Standing in the queue at the register is sort of norm that mainly facilitates, while the notion that girls should be good and caring, and boys should be strong and courageous, are norms that limit us all. Such gender norms prevent us to develop all the aspects of our personalities.
Making assumptions based on stereotypes, gender roles and norms in the interview situation is not only limiting, it can make the interview become very uncomfortable and exclusionary for someone who does not consider themselves to be part of the norm. Therefore it is very important, before and during the interview, to remind oneself not to reinforce ideas that might discriminate or exclude anyone.
Norms is a matter of power and influence in society, and are related to the grounds of discrimination: race, disability, gender, religion / belief, sexual orientation, age, gender identity / expression, socio-economic status. By thinking about how we express ourselves, we can avoid reinforcing norms.
For example, do not assume
- that someone with a certain skin color speaks a certain language
- that someone with a disability can’t have a certain kind of job
- that people with certain social status has certain political views
When one talks to or describes someone it is important not to generalize and draw boundaries between groups and nationalities. A starting point is that all people are unique individuals and that the interview is an exciting opportunity to learn about what this very unique individual thinks and have experienced.
With an open, conscious and respectful attitude your meeting can be enriching and interesting to yourself, the person you are interviewing and those who will read about it.