Sotomayor’s Ruling on the Job Search

We can learn a lot about career and job searches by following the path of political giants, like Judge Sotomayor. Her recent supreme court hearings lend significant advice on how to behave in a tough job interview.

If you’ve been following the Supreme Court Hearings for the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, you may realize that everyone is having a hard time finding a job. Granted, most of us don’t experience quite the grueling barrage of questions that dig so deep into who and what you are, we can certainly learn a lot from her job interview.

I’m normally not so excited about watching such debates since they tend to get a little carried away and throw logic out the window. However, this recent debate and Sotomayor’s behavior inspired me to look at my own career and experiences in hopes of handling it with a little more ‘control.’

Here are a few interview behaviors that Sotomayor is currently displaying, in an inspiring way:

1. Let your record speak for itself

Sotomayor was drilled over and over about decisions she had made in her career. Even if you didn’t agree with her rulings, you have to respect her ability to recap the facts of each case. She recited them in detail and length, demonstrating a command of the facts. Then, she went even further to highlight the previous court rulings that her decision was based on.

You know your resume should reflect your experience, skills and knowledge. These factors shouldn’t be up for debate. You should be capable of providing sufficient evidence to anything listed on your resume. Just as Sotomayor was careful not to insight the senators investigating her background, the success stories you provide about your own past should be described in a way that is logical and indisputable.

2. Stay cool under fire

“I haven’t examined those cases recently enough to be able to answer your question,” Sotomayer replied in response to Senator Hatch’s probing question. Sotomayer carefully crafted her responses. She didn’t respond to questions in a way that irritated the committee. Her statements sought to diffuse the tension. Every time a question was posed that was intended to stir an opinionated response, Sotomayor simply blew out the fuse.

But for most of us, the interview process builds tension and stress. No matter how much we practice and prepare, our blood pressure still climbs when we are in the hot seat. However, just as Sotomayor so carefully demonstrated, you don’t have to struggle to answer the questions. If you can’t answer it in favorable way, it may be best to just let them know that your memory isn’t perfect. This response implies that you don’t rush to quick decisions, especially when you don’t have all the facts.

3. Everything isn’t equal

Despite the numerous invitations to engage in heated debate, Sotomayor carefully navigated around them. She even flashed a little rhetoric when she said that “Equality requires effort.” Implying that the government will almost go too far to ensure equality, she certainly makes a good point that applies to the job application process; that is, it isn’t fair. Even if you have all the credentials, experience and knowledge, it doesn’t guarantee you anything. Often times, employers focus more on those little things that seem to have no real relevance to the position being filled.

Are we so smart that we can tell whether or not someone’s experience will be a detriment to the company? Companies change at such a fast pace, I don’t know how anyone could assess that impact. Nonetheless, a bad response can set off an avalanche of irrelevant questions that are more a search for reasons to rule you than rule you in.

Just like Sotomayor does, don’t give them a reason to go off on that man-hunt. Stay true to yourself and let the chips fall where they may. And this could be all you need capture that next opportunity.


Todd Rhoad is Director at BT Consulting, a career consulting firm in Altanta, and can be reached at

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