This particular interview does not start with a vampire at one end and a cheesy reporter on the other. There's not even an  over-enthusiastic Christian Slater grilling the 'sassy' Brad Pitt, the way it happened in 'An Interview with the Vampire'; in fact, it's even better! There is a multi talented interviewer who can assume any role, an author, a poet, a debater, a public speaker, a mimicker, a singer and the list goes on.

Interviewing is a crucial part of every individual's life and more or less every individual experiences this thrill or ordeal at least once in their life time. Whether it pertains to academics or jobs or even matchmaking! It can be treated both as a science and as an art. There may be questions which basically make you want to run to a mountain top and yell out loud! Unfortunately they don't add much value to assess competence nor to get a clue on the ability to take initiative.

Being in finance, I have been on both sides of the fence for the last three decades. Been Christian Slater and Brad Pitt (Bet both of them would be flattered to read this). Some encounters were quite interesting, some made me walk out in embarrassment; others truly inspired me but the last one I will never forget..

With panel interview rituals, often senior co-panelists take the lead, usually firing bullets of technical questions left, right and centre; brutally cornering the poor candidate. Later the panel of honorable interviewers displayed superior standards of knowledge and professional acumen. This way at least the candidate took home the divine information that it is Part C of chapter number 19 in the foreign exchange manual, which talks about bid bond guarantees!

Some interviewers are rebels without a cause. Angry individuals perhaps allergic to human beings. With sadist shades, their high point is when they are able to explode the candidate's grey matter through a mental maze. They like to pretend that they are secret under cover agents and love to intimidate candidates by asking questions on integrity issues and past affairs! They position themselves in a combative style, waiting with expressive eyes for their 'prey' to walk in! As soon as the candidate sits across, both pounce on the poor interviewee, literally going to the extent of, 'How dare you come here for an interview?' and 'Don't you know we are cannibals, if you didn't, you may regret now!'. I had great fun on this panel, playing the pacifist.

Another category of interviewers have a sweet tooth. They prefer eye candy and love encounters with the fair sex. Once a senior colleague and I were interviewing a lady from the airline industry for a front office position and he asked her why she quit her previous job.

“The flying schedule disturbed my family life as I am now married.”

Instead of asking her 'How do you see yourself adjusting to an industry change?', the next question was, “So how long have you been married now?”

At this the color of my skin turned a vivid shade of guava pink while the lady replied sheepishly; “Two years”.

My colleague pounced at her, “And how many children do you have?”

How many children can a human possibly have in a span of two years? I wanted to vanish into thin air. The poor lady turned red but my colleague had yet to put the last nail in the coffin and fired the most unpredictable question, “When do you intend to have kids?” I couldn't take this any longer. Embarrassed and sympathetic, I walked out of the room.

Any other country, culture or society, I am sure a legal suit or 'gender trial' would have ensued.

Some interviewers who talk to you about anything but work or academics. They'll never ask the Newton's law of motion, quick math or logic nor technical work related problems. They love to discuss Allama Iqbal's verses or Khalil Gibran's 28 essays in his book 'The Prophet'; the mysteries of life, philosophy, religion or hobbies which could range from music, to horse riding or swimming.  The participant is grilled to an abnormal degree as if his annual increment depends on his horseback trotting skills. If a participant dared say music, a two hour session followed discussing the beauty of every note from the flute, harmonium, banjo, trumpet, drums etc. For vocals, the questions would be, 'Do you like Urdu or English songs? If English, is it classical, pop or heavy metal?” If it was Urdu, 'Do you like ghazals (if so whose?) or plain film songs of Lata, Rafi or even Kundalal Saigol.

Some like to dig into what the candidate's father, grandfather, great grandfather or great, great grand father does or did in their lifetime. I recall a candidate who promptly replied that the father was not alive but to my utter amazement the next question was, 'What did he do when he was alive?'

When I was based in South East Asia, I remember asking a candidate, 'What does your father do'? She curtly fired back, 'He's a bus driver!' and I found myself wondering why in the world did I ask this question! In North East Asia i.e. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea, questions relating to family are considered extremely demeaning. In fact candidates never mention the name of their father on resumes. Contrary to interviews conducted in English speaking West African countries, my local co-panelist asked if the candidates' siblings were from the same father and mother!

On my first ever trip to a country where my brother heads a shipping company, I was introduced to his colleagues. One of them asked me if we were from the same parents. Excited like any Pakistani would be on the slightest innuendo to do with our mothers and sisters, I was ready to bash him up! My brother calmed me down, explaining the manners and nuances of their society.

Recently a candidate was referred to me by a senior colleague. During the meeting I counseled him, providing general guidance as a mentor. Towards the end he proudly declared that whatever career path he chose, he had to spend time with his two beloved wives! Two spouses in his mid thirties! Apparently his first wife helped him look for his second wife and that they all lived together and currently both his wives were on a joint venture in search of the third bride.

Instinctively, I overthrew the corporate veneer and became an eager mentee ready for tips on his achievement at such a tender age!

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