Why I hate interviewing people in the Middle East

Since moving to the Middle East, I’ve given a lot of interviews. A lot.

Compared to the UK workforce, the Middle East is very different. Here you’ll find more than a UK average number of people who have moved jobs frequently, moved countries often or others who’ve taken “career breaks” in their 20s to focus on personal projects and business ventures.

My previous CV filtering technique of “bin it if it has a typo”, had to be parked. They say that the Middle East that business is personal, the same goes for interviews. If the CV is on the right track, invite them in. Don’t waste time reviewing typos, questioning the font  (Times New Roman!?!?), or putting question marks against the odd short-term tenure.

Don’t get me wrong, the market here is filled with super-star candidates, with strong work experience, stellar internships, high grades and dollops of personality. But those little treasures aren’t the focus of today’s blog.

So, now being in nearly my fourth year as a hiring manager in Dubai, I’ve decided to share the top 10 of the worst interview experiences I’ve encountered.

1. The nicotine-addict


The nicotine-addict who requested a quick cigarette break just as we were inviting the CEO to join the interview. An ability to prioritise is important. Not hired.

2. The embellisher

Aces or Spades?Photo

The embellisher with 10 years experience, which rounded down to about 8 weeks of actual experience. Let’s call a spade, a spade. Not hired.

3. The friendly ghost

Casper the Friendly $5 costume

The friendly ghost who fooled you with her email charm, enthusiasm and immediate availability, then didn’t turn up. Casper should remain a fictional character. Not hired.

4. The post-bender hopeful

Harry Potter: The Hangover (Bagdad Theater, Portland, Oregon, 13 Oct. 2009)

The post-bender hopeful who explained in the first three minutes that he was horribly hungover and “might be a bit slow today”. There’s a time and a place my friend. Not hired.

5. The Fast-Learner

Night Moves

The fast-learner who told me, quite categorically, that a job in digital marketing and social media didn’t require experience. Allow me to show you the door. Not hired.

6. The Two-Timer


The two-timer who wanted to run his own digital marketing agency… with his own clients… while working full time in digital marketing for our agency and clients. You have baffled us with your gall. Not hired.

7. The Phone-Fiend

Quiet Please

The phone-fiend, who is very obviously that person at the cinema, and allowed their phone to ring, on loud, throughout the interview. Phone-silence is golden. Not hired.

8. The Dependent

Clean Team

The dependent, who wanted nothing more than to sign up for free mentorship, learning and training, and “have a big global agency” on his CV. There’s no “i” in team, compadre. Not hired.

9. The “Arabic Writer”

Frequent Stopping

The “fluent Arabic writer” whose written test achieved the first minus score in the history of our agency. La shukran. Not hired.

10. The Riddler

The Riddler (I Am The Night Version)

And finally, the riddler, who when asked why she wanted the job, replied, “I’m not sure I can answer that as it might affect my chances of getting the job”. During this particular interview I kept glancing around for the hidden camera and Ashton Kutcher from Punk’d to appear. It did affect her chances. Not hired.




Main image credit

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I am laughing my ass off right now! Please tell me thAt you just made some of those up. If not, I’m not sure if I should feel sorry for you or be jealous. 🙂


    1. kikipigeon says:

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m afraid to say they are all true.


  2. Nice blog right here! Also your site quite a bit up fast!
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    Liked by 1 person

  3. Avis says:

    This is the perfect blog for anybod whho would like to understand this topic.
    You understand a wholee lot its almost hard to
    argue with you (not that I personally would wznt to…HaHa).
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