In the months since I started my job search, I’ve gotten interviews with about half a dozen companies in London. I haven’t gotten a job offer yet, but I have gotten plenty of unprofessional questions and comments.
“So what do your parents do for a living?”
They root out class-obsessed bigots like you and educate them on appropriate questions to ask in a job interview. It doesn’t pay super well, but tbh they’ve never been in it for the money.
“I can tell by your accent you’re not from here. American?”
OMG how smart are you!!11!!! But pro tip for the next time you’re feeling super nosy: guess Canadian instead. Canadians don’t like it when people assume they’re American – and who would want to offend a Canadian? Well, actually, you might, you tactless jerk.
“What brought you to London?”
None of your damn business, that’s what. If it weren’t for my accent, this would be the stupidest of stupid questions: One-third of the population live in and around London because this is where all the jobs are. But since I’m marked as a foreigner, you feel entitled to ask about my personal life. And I have to give you a rundown, because I’ve learned that a simple “for personal reasons” won’t satisfy your unprofessional curiosity.
[I briefly explain that my partner is British, so we decided to move here when he got a job, and then, when pressed for even more details, I give an overview of his career trajectory] “Wow, he’s got a PhD! He must be so smart! Maybe he wants to work here?”
I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. But I might. Which is the whole reason we’re all here right now. And if it’s a PhD you care about, that’s great, because I’ve got one too, which you’d know if you’d glanced at the resume sitting in front of your fucking face.
[looking at my last name] “Ooh, where’s that from, if I may ask?”
No, you may not. But now I have to answer, don’t I?
[still looking at my last name] “Ah yes, I could tell it was something Eastern European! All those consonants. Were you born there or did your family move from there?”
We seriously haven’t moved on from this topic yet?!
[looking at the description of my previous role on my resume] “Tell me about your last role – it certainly sounds like a big job!”
No, please, finish your thought: “It certainly sounds like a big job for a little thing like you!” Any other condescending musings you want to get out of the way up front? Or did you want to sort of sprinkle them in as we go along?
[required questions on an online application form]
“Do you consider yourself an individual with a disability?
“Which ethnic group do you most identify with?
“What is your religion or belief?
“Which of the following statements best describes your sexual orientation?”
[only two of these had the “prefer not to say” option]
Shut. The. Fuck. Up. How on earth are are these required questions?!
“Hi dear, lovely to meet you.”
OK, that’s not a question, but I think it fits right in. One (male) hiring manager addressed me exclusively as “dear.” Because he seemed like a nice guy otherwise, and because I haven’t entirely shaken off my socialization as an accommodating, polite young lady, I tried to be open-minded and attribute it to a regionalism or an unfamiliar cultural tic. But when I asked around, everyone told me it was neither of those things, just an inappropriate – though not unheard-of – habit.