Sunday, December 29, 2013

Girl Shopping Part 2: The Initial Interview

Part 2 of our series on finding a spouse, takes us to the interview round. Today we'll focus on the initial interview, the screening round if you will.
After we've sifted through the profiles (resumes) of prospective matches, and identified one we felt had potential (how we identified the potential is still a mystery to me - most likely it was basis what her dad did for a living or the fact that she had two siblings abroad and they all owned their own businesses. The decision to meet the family has little to no bearing on the girl herself.), it's time to schedule the first round interview.
So the father of the groom calls up the father of the bride and they make arrangements to meet. Generally the first meeting will take place with the extended family, meaning an auntie or cousin, sibling, or ME will show up to meet the family and prospective match. It's likely the groom might not even come along, and if he does come along, he will most definitely not come face to face with his prospective partner during this initial meeting.
So we visit the girls home, her family is hospitable, they offer us a cool drink and some snacks, which even though I don't want, I take any way so as not to seem rude. Within a few minutes, the ladies are whisked off to meet the potential bride and the men are left to talk.
I've conducted hundreds of interviews in my life. Generally for a job interview, I can decide within the first 60 seconds whether I like the candidate or not. However, I feel a bit more time is needed when you're determining the next 60 years of someone's life.
The first several minutes of meeting any girl is so awkward. Everyone is just kind of peeking out of the corners of their eyes and smiling, while they size each other up. I think it would be much more effective if they put the girl up on a rotating stage behind a curtain. There could be trumpeters playing then "Wahlaa" Mom pulls the curtain back, the spot line aims at the girl, and there she is, spinning on stage in a grand display for everyone to see. Which really, is the purpose of this first meeting. It's completely superficial. We check out her dress, we check out her complexion. Does she have acne? Is she as fair in real life as she was in the pictures (the answer's no)? Does she wear glasses? How are her teeth? Is she a healthy weight?  We're essentially determining her breeding potential and the potential that she might pass down weak genes to offspring. Don't want that in the family. Never mind that the potential groom isn't exactly Bollywood hero material himself.
So after what feels like an eternity of staring each other down coyly, the questions will start. Again, completely superficial:
  • What did you study in school?
  • Do you have plans to work outside the home?
  • What dishes do you know how to cook?
  • Do you plan to take care of the house, or will you expect hired help?
Yep, that's about the extent of the questions. There's really not much more that gets asked.
With one girl we met, I was getting so irritated with her answers, that I started challenging her, and she would change her answer basis my challenge. Given the limited questions, I stuck to the script and I asked whether she planned to work outside the home. When she said "No it's been my lifelong dream to live for serving my husband." Okay she didn't say that but she might as well have. Then I asked her, "So if that's you're life long dream, why did you get an Engineering degree?" She hemmed and hawed and didn't really give an answer. So I told her, "You should consider working outside the home, you have an impressive education your parents spent good money on." Then she says "Oh yes, I'll work outside the home." Then I said "But you just told me your life long dream was to be a housewife." She says "Oh it is." Blah blah blah round and round we go. I'm quickly irritated with this complete and utter waste of time. If it were a candidate for a job interview, I'd dismiss them at this point so we could all get on with our lives.
Unfortunately in my experience, as soon as the above questions were asked, the tables got turned and the girl's family started asking me questions:
  • Where was I from?
  • When did I come to India?
  • What did I do for a living?
  • What company did I work for?
  • What was my educational background?
  • How many siblings did I have?
  • What was my siblings education?
  • What did my siblings do for a living?
  • Were my siblings married?
  • Were my parents in India?
  • Where do my parents live (since the answer to the above is "No")?
  • Are my parents working?
  • What do my parents do for a living?
  • When did I last go to the US to visit my family?
  • How did I find India (as in, do I like it, not as in, can I locate it on a map)?
Wait a minute, who's getting hired, I mean married, here?
Generally my firing round would be interrupted by the father or brother of the bride coming to tell the ladies to come and sit with the men. This would mean a chair would get pulled up in the centre of the room, the girl would sit in it, and the guys from the groom's side would have a chance to ask her questions. Comfy, huh? Looks like we're just missing the trumpeters.
Generally, the men (and by men, I mean brother of the groom, never the groom) will have the following questions for her:
  • What did you study in school?
  • Do you have plans to work outside the home?
  • What dishes do you know how to cook?
  • Do you plan to take care of the house, or will you expect hired help?
Sound familiar? It's the same junk we already asked her.
Just like a job interview, she's going to give scripted answers. But unlike a job interview, she's going to give those answers: Keeping her head down at all times, never looking up, and never raising her voice above a whisper. This makes me CRAZY! I'm about as far from demure as they come. I cannot stand this damsel in distress routine. Speak up! We're deciding your life RIGHT IN THIS MOMENT. Take part in it! (Just for the record, this is the same advice I gave the groom.)
With hiring events, I average a completion rate of 12 per hour, with a selection rate of 20%. With brides, the stakes are a little higher. Especially considering that if someone you endorse, should the family decide on her, turns out to be a dud, it falls on your shoulders. After my first few interviews I swore I was done. I wasn't going to attend any more because they were so scripted, so fake, and so non-informative that I just couldn't see anything positive coming out of this experience. But, I committed, so I was in it for the long haul...

No comments:

Post a Comment