12 terrible things to say in your job interview in India

by neo

“Why aren’t you in a more interesting business ?” is not the sort of existential question Neo expects to answer, especially coming from someone interviewing at his company for an entry-level position. But after spending two years in India interviewing people, he has learned to be prepared for anything.

Neo always goes in well-prepared for taking interviews – people at work might be laughing openly at his “flash card” rapid-fire question session, but it really works.

Unfortunately, in India, it seems often that the interviewee is less prepared for the interview than the interviewer!

So, if you are interviewing for a position in Neo’s company, here’s a few things you should avoid saying:

1. “I have 20 years of Java experience” – Very impressive, especially considering the fact that the first version of Java was released only 14 years ago.

self-made motivational poster and job interview attire

2. “I’ll have a Mojito!” – A non-alcoholic drink would perhaps have been a better choice during your lunch-time interview ? But maybe after your Mojito you can tell us exactly how it is that you have only “6 years experience in verbal communication” ?

3. “What’s your flexible hours policy?” Quick question: your résumé states that you want a “party-time” job ? Perhaps you meant “part-time” ?

4. “My email address is hardbanger94@hotmail.com” – Thanks, but we sort of prefer it if your email address is based on your name, instead of your music (or sexual?!) preferences. Also, it’s fascinating that you use hotmail.

5. Will I get to work on-site?” – On which site ? Maybe you have us confused with a construction company ?

6. “What is the exact title of the job?” – Just for that, we think we’re going to make yours “Junior Assistant Trainee”.

7.I was born in 1973, in a small town called …” – Here’s a tip: It’s probably safe to skip over your childhood memories (and broken romances) when we ask you to “tell us a little bit about yourself”.

8. Do you provide lunch ?” – When we ask “Do you have any questions for us?”, we sort of expect questions revolving around the company or the industry we’re in. But no, we don’t provide lunch. And since we haven’t had any malnutrition-related deaths here, we tend to believe our employees are doing just fine.

9. Sir could you come and meet my mother who’s waiting downstairs ? She’s heard so much about you!” – We’ve just had one phone conversation and now this 20-minute interview. Perhaps we should take our relationship one step at a time ?

10. “Did you know a Venkat in your college batch?” – Doesn’t everyone ? Now can we get back to the coding problem on the whiteboard ? That graph isn’t going to traverse itself while we play six degrees of separation!

11. “What exactly does your background check include?” – If you need to ask, we doubt whether we’ll need to check your background.

12. Your HR lady is pretty!” – Yes, she sort of got your point: when she asked you about your chief weaknesses, you answered “pretty women” – and winked at her. BTW, she’s not an “HR lady”, she’s the CEO of our India office.

Yes, interviewing is stressful and everyone goofs up. But a little bit of common sense (such as “don’t wink at the CEO”) will go a long way in helping you land your dream job at Neo’s company.

(*Many details have been changed to avoid embarrassing people who really deserve to be embarrassed.)

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