In China, some job interviews require describing fellatio
As a former introvert, I used to only share my personal details with a limited circle of friends and family. Today, I am much more comfortable in speaking about my private life. However, I am still not the over-sharing type, of which there are so many on social media these days. Thus, the thought of being asked to reveal my sex life to my boss and colleagues sends shivers down my spine.
Surprisingly, this is what happened recently to a foreign friend here in Shanghai after beginning an internship at a local start-up company. As part of a “team building” exercise to get to know his new Chinese workmates, their boss asked him in front of everyone how many one-night stands he’s had.
He was also required to identify a female colleague he was most likely to date. Ironically, his work contract stipulated that engaging in a romantic relationship with anyone from the company would result in termination. Trick question, perhaps?
Similarly, a Chinese friend who applied for a job at a Hangzhoubased Chinese e-commerce megacorporation was asked during an interview by their HR manager if she’d ever given a blow job, and if yes, how she would describe the taste of the man’s penis.
Myself nearing graduation here in Shanghai, I was horrified to hear about the types of inquisitive interviews and overt invasions of privacy I might have to face in the near future. It is stressful enough worrying about all the competition I’ll be facing off against in my fight for my dream position, including the dreaded “eight assessment rounds,” where HR test our intelligence, personality, social skills, leadership ability and other areas.
Now it seems that our ability to completely and utterly self-disclose our innermost secrets and skeletons in front of our prospective future employer has become the new ninth round of the Chinese hiring process. Of course this is probably just a way to test our dedication.
When a job candidate is asked to self-disclose his/her dirty little secrets in front of a potential employer, the interviewer is using his/ her position of power to manipulate you into revealing personal details. Those who really want or need that job feel obligated to answer such questions. This is the reason why my two friends both chose to answer the questions honestly.
However, I personally believe that accepting this type of abusive employer behavior can have longterm negative effects on employees and their work.
Years ago, I too might have been vulnerable and naive enough to be compelled into answering such invasive questioning, though it certainly would have left me feeling empty and ashamed. A much more confident, quick-witted version of myself, however, would wave it off with a joke: “How many one-night stands, you ask? Let me list them for you alphabetically: Aaron, Alex, Andrew …” or “Who in this office would I sleep with? You, if it’ll get me a promotion!”
Seriously though, I would firmly decline to answer such question, then announce that I also refuse to work for a company that demands their employees to denigrate themselves just to prove their corporate loyalty. In Switzerland, my home country, laws prohibit businesses from asking their employees personal questions that are not directly related to professional activity. The only question that should interest any employer is: “Is this person qualified and motivated for the job?”
According to a Chinese friend who is currently studying law, local civil law protects the private sphere of employees. He doubts that asking candidates about sex will ever become a corporate trend in China. In Chinese culture, it is in fact extremely impolite to ask questions about someone’s sexual experiences and preferences. He suspects that in both instances mentioned above, that boss and that HR manager probably both had personal moral shortcomings and were not asking on behalf of their company.
Either way, my friend DID get that job in Hangzhou working for one of China’s largest tech giants. She is now earning a decent salary and can already afford to buy her own apartment. I guess admitting to giving blow jobs and describing the taste of penis is what it takes to get ahead in the Chinese marketplace. After I graduate, maybe I’ll just become self-employed.