The laundromat job interview that proved why Human Resources is needed
From cuddling to marital status, here's what NOT to ask in a job interview
I never thought anything could top “my worst and most successful job interview.” After all, what are the odds that you could write a letter to the editor, telling him why everything he said was wrong in an op-ed, and then he hires you? How could I top that story?
Today (and sadly) I did. A neighborhood laundromat was bought by a new owner, who decided to make it his personal duty to defy every single solitary thing that’s in those Human Resources training videos about what to never ask during a job interview and what not to say in the workplace. Here are the highlights:
Him (a man of minority descent): Are you African?
Me: No, people ask me am I Ethiopian a lot though.
Him: (cracks up laughing) I never usually ask if people are Africans. I figured you were Nigerian or something.
Me: (stares in confusion, then remembers how pretty Nigerian women are) I’m not really sure why looking Ethiopian is funny. But someone I interviewed had relatives in Ethiopia and asked me that, and I understood why after I saw their facial features.
Him: Are you married?
Me: Is that relevant for the tasks involved in closing up for the night or the job duties?
Him: No, I just want to know what you’re like. That other guy who came in for an interview is single. He doesn’t have anything to do.
Me: Can we focus on what you would like me to do at this job? I’d prefer to not speak about other candidates’ relationships or my own.
Him: Are you going to let me down? You’re not going to come in late because you want to cuddle with your man in bed, right?
Me: Did someone actually say that to you?
Me: No, I will definitely not call off to cuddle. What should someone do if they want the day off though? Or a holiday?
Him: Why are we talking about holidays? You haven’t even worked here yet.
Me: Understanding paid time off, or unpaid time off, is a common question to ask from a new hire.
Him: (after reminding me six times how to turn a light switch off, four times that carts go under tables, eight times that the doors are on an automatic lock and three times demonstrating how to close a dryer door) Do you have any questions about emptying the lint trays? How to shut down for the night?
Me: (pulls out my notebook and asks him to repeat the shifts to open and close the location) Can you remind me what times I am supposed to come in on weekdays and weekends?
Him: Why do you have that notebook? I’ll give you paperwork later! Let me show you where the cleaning supplies are in case the machines are sticky.
Me: I appreciate your level of detail on keeping the place clean while I’m assisting you. But I would really like to see the actual paperwork with the pay dates, payment amounts and the shifts.
Him: Later. Let me show you the cleaning supplies. Oh, never mind. You’re a woman. You know what to do with cleaning supplies.