June 17, 2017
Today was a day of firsts.
First accountancy internship interview. First internship acceptance. First rejection because I wear a Niqab.
Last evening I read an email, sent two days ago, calling me for an interview today. I immediately emailed back and ran downstairs to get my phone. So I could call the husband and tell him. I had just started applying to different audit companies and wasn’t expecting a reply this fast.I didn’t hear back till half an hour before the interview. I was told to come in before 2:30 pm. It was 12:50 pm. Once again, I rushed downstairs to tell the husband because we had other plans. I didn’t even have a printed CV on me. And my phone had 0% charge. That’s how unprepared I was. Anyway, I quickly got ready and left for the interview.
I got there, found the building and went in. The first ten minutes were great. I was asked my future plans, expectations from this job, motivation to excel at work. The guy went on to describe the company’s environment, asking me if money mattered more or the experience. I was honest and said that at this point, experience does. I was asked about languages I speak, nationality, goals in life etc. He said that he was liking what he saw and would give me a definite yes by talking it over with the rest of the management.
Then he kind of got awkward and said that I hope I am not offending you. This isn’t my personal belief, it’s just that our management requires everyone to show their faces. So would you be okay with taking off your Niqab ?’ I said that I am sorry but that’s not an option at all. We talked about this for a few minutes. He was very polite and tried to convince me that it was necessary in the business world, how expressions matter. I told him that I have been a debater my whole life, so I know how much expressions matter. But I also believe that your work shows how good you are at something. He talked about how men still don’t like women in this profession. I said, how the hell are we so sexist in 2017 ? He said, I am so sorry. I wish I could do more.
End of story.
The interview left me with so many questions. I had already anticipated what had happened. Those of us who wear Niqab cannot travel to a lot of countries. There is a lot that we cannot do. But I have never let these restrictions define my life. Instead of backing down, I have faced things head on and done them regardless of wearing an Abaya and covering my face.
The fact that I was told no on my very first interview sucked. Because I was being judged on something that has very little to do with the work itself.
That’s life though. We all go through hardships and the true test is standing with pride during the hard times. So that’s exactly what I did. I said ‘NO’ without any regrets or second thoughts. Because it has taken a lot of courage, time and inner turmoil to decide to not show my face.