Dear Interviewers, please stop commenting on my foreign-sounding name.

Job interviews are nerve-racking enough without your interviewer admitting his racist tendencies.

So here’s the back story:

I applied for a job at a company which I shall keep anonymous, but let’s call them SilverJohns. I got through the initial phone interview stage, and in fact, managed to pick up some brownie points along the way — my company knowledge exceeded the expectations of my interviewer. I was then called up to another interview at their local branch. This is where it gets a little funny.

The interview consisted of some personality based questions and also some work ethic/competency type questions. Towards the end, the interviewer brought up my name, and I just thought, “Oh no, not this again…”

I get asked about my name a lot and it gets a little tiresome to have the same conversation with every interviewer, but this was different and slightly more hilarious.

The interviewer had my CV on his iPad and was scrolling through and paused at the Education section where I’d listed which educational institutions I’d attended over the last 13/14 years. (I know this is pretty much a cardinal sin in the world of CVs, but bear with me.) I’m in university at the moment, and I’d listed my education from when I attended elementary (primary) school in Canada, to then continuing my education in the UK and attending another primary school, a secondary school, and now university. The reason for this is because I didn’t want people to think that I’d a particularly strong foreign accent: I wanted them to know I’d been learning English in English-speaking countries my entire life.

I explained this to the interviewer, who then looked at me, and said that he himself was very surprised that I didn’t have an accent, and was assuming I would when he conducted the initial phone interview. He then went on to ask about the origin of my name and all that usual stuff that I get at every interview.

He did also comment on how impressive my CV was and how I’d done so much for my age. However, this wasn’t enough to convince him I was the best candidate for the job, and I received my rejection letter the following week through the post.

Now, I’m not calling straight up racism on this simply because I do not know who the other applicants were, or what their skills were. I had experience working for similar companies, and even worked for a company the interviewer mentioned he’s also worked for not too long ago. With this knowledge, and the overall progress of the interview I felt quite confident that they liked me enough to hire me, but unfortunately I was unsuccessful. What I definitely can comment on, however, is the unnecessary questioning about my name and my lack of foreign accent (that’s a new one!).

So please, Interviewers, stop commenting on my foreign-sounding name.

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