By Dr Emma Wiley, microbiology registrar
Interviews can often be daunting as you prepare to present the best version of yourself in both a professional and personal capacity. The more you want the vacancy, the more stressful things can become. It’s always important to take a step back, breathe and remember to just be yourself.
I still remember the day I went for my Microbiology Specialist training interview for the Registrar post. I looked across the room to the rest of the group and saw a sister veiled in niqaab. I instantly felt sorry for her and thoughts about how she would ever get a job rushed to mind. “I doubt they will seriously consider her” I thought.
That morning, I had been contemplating about whether or not to wear my own hijab for the interview. In the end I concluded that if I wanted to be competitive in the field, maybe it was best I went without it on this occasion.
We both got jobs. I got my third choice speciality selection and she got my first. It was in that moment that I realised Allah is the bestower of rizq (provision) and I had horribly miscalculated. Within a few months I had committed to wearing hijab and that was how I began my Specialist training.
Growth and authenticity
Many years later I interviewed for a Consultant post. This time I was interviewing as me – hijab, no make up and a CV with the word ‘Muslim’ on it. I repeatedly wavered as to whether this was the right course of action, the difference being, I now knew that my faith was in Allah – Ar Razzaaq, the Sustainer.
I spoke confidently about voluntary work with various Islamic societies during the interview. I listed my BIMA dress codes work as the thing I was most proud of on the application form and founding ‘Muslim Women of Merton’ as a source of joy and satisfaction in my life.
As I reflected on the interview process afterwards with my coach tears came to my eyes. It had taken courage to be authentic, to honour who I was and the things I truly valued. It was a risk I knew I had to take and I was aware it could have gone very wrong.
This time things had worked out, Alhumdulillah. I had been shortlisted for two jobs on the basis of that CV and I was able to turn down my second choice.
In interviewing for the post I was seen and heard in a way I had never been been seen and heard before during that interview – I’d been me. The Chief Executive later described my interview as one of the best Consultant interviews he had sat on and that I brought ‘joy’ to the Trust. The Medical Director said she was grateful I had chosen to apply to the Trust and that they were lucky to have me.
So my advice to all striving in the medical field as muslims is to be your authentic self through and through. Take risks where necessary and do not consume yourself or belittle your abilities in fear of Islamophobia – you might be just what they’re looking for!
People recognise and value authenticity, no matter what package it comes in; be it hijab or niqaab. Be yourself, because only then can you be transformative.