For discretion purposes, I won’t mention any companies’ name in this article.
After almost a year living in Mexico, I experimented that there’s a gap between job interviews in France and in Mexico, and still today it is something very difficult for me. I share here some facts about what to expect when you are going to a job interview in Mexico.
First of all, be prepared to face personal questions.
In Mexico, being professional is a vague notion and people will always ask you about your family and your personal life projects. As it’s prohibited by law in France, I have to admit that it’s quite disturbing. Imagine you applying for a job and instead of having to answer about your skills, experience and motivation, you will have to indicate if you are married and when are you expecting to have kids. Thus, here are some questions that I faced:
“How many brothers and sisters do you have?”
“Are your parents still together?”
“In which field do your parents work?”
“Do you have a good relationship with your family?”
“Are you married?”
“When are you planning to have kids?” (Once I was so tired that I answered that I didn’t know that the role of women was to conceive)
And these are only few examples…As a European, and even more as a French, I am still terribly shocked because for me, it’s the maximum level of the indiscretion. It is not the business of the company to know anything about you out of work: those are personal matters and don’t concern anybody else than you.
The fact, is that in the daily life in Mexico, everytime that you meet new people you can have this type of question. And if you don’t answer because you feel uncomfortable, people will think that you are not interested into them, you are going to appear rude. In France, it’s the contrary: if you ask too many questions, it’s going to appear as indiscrete. What surprises me is that those personal questions seem normal in a job interview when they have nothing to do with the job itself.
Be prepared to machismo…and to do a pregnancy test!
As I already mentioned it in the blog, Mexico is a conservative country where the machismo is still strong. As a matter of fact, many men don’t allow their wives to work…which seems totally absurd and outdated in France. In this context, here are questions that I also had to face:
“Are you sure that your husband will allow you to work?”
“If your husband works, why do you want to work?” (to refund the fucking loan that I contracted to pay my Master for instance)
“What will think your husband of working more than him? What will he think of not seeing you at home before him?”
Again, these are examples. But it’s not the worst: once, a company made me do a pregnancy test. My word was not enough and as I just got married they were persuaded that I was probably pregnant. My first reaction was to refuse the test and leave. But I was there thanks to a recommendation of a friend who was working himself in the company and I didn’t want to cause him injury. I was feeling trapped.
As I was going to the bathroom to make the test, the nurse entered with me saying that she had to stay behind the door. What was she expecting? That I had a fake urine sample in my bag? This had been terribly humiliating.
Finally, I even don’t talk about this nurse who was not professional at all. Believe me, I have a nursing degree and I worked as a nurse so I think that I know few things about it. This woman had her hair not attached, a dirty nail polish and her office was full of dust.
At this time, my working visa was still in process and the company needed someone urgently. So, it didn’t match. Finally, it’s probably for the best because I have been really affected by this experience.
At last, I would say that it’s important to have good human and psychological skills to be able to follow your interlocutor. As I already mentioned it in the blog, people are barely direct and frontal in Mexico. Sometimes you may have the impression that things went well whereas there’s actually no chance that you will be called back. It can be quite frustrating.
Recently, I faced another specific case: the man who was conducting the interview suddenly said that he was going to be direct in a European style as I was French. He told me that I had too high salary expectations as I had no experience (actually yes, I have experience, but anyways). He talked to me in a rude way and according to me he was confusing being direct with being disrespectful. For sure, in France we are direct: I don’t deny that. But it doesn’t mean that we are disrespectful.
At last, this man told me that he was still interested in my profile but when I called him back the day after, he actually was not interested…He had pretended being honest and direct…I felt there was something weird but I still tried my hand.
I probably should be stronger. I probably should be more adaptable and overcome those situations that I know now. Unfortunately, I am still surprised by certain questions and I simply don’t manage them.
Living in a foreign country is always a cultural challenge. But ultimately, what is the most challenging is to adapt you without sacrificing your own culture and your own values because they are what make your identity.