Friday, February 02, 2007

Job Interviews in Hanoi Part I

Exibition photo

I remembered the first job I applied for four years ago was the Emperor restaurant. I had my first interview with the owner, who agreed for me to work there for 800,000Vnd - $55. The next day, they called me and I had an interview with Patrick, the Swiss manager. After 15 minutes talking, he told me I had been accepted and my salary would be 1,000,000Vnd- $70. I would work as a captain, taking orders and putting food onto the table. I started working the evening shift because at that time I had to go to school to study French at Allain Francais.

Ha Long Bay - surprising cave

After a few months, the owner called me into her office and told me that I was being sent to another restaurant called the Opera Club which belongs to the same company. The only thing was that I had to work in the morning and evening. I told her about my study situation and reminded her about her agreement from the first time but she refused to compromise with me. I was forced to quit that job which was unfortunate because I loved working there with very nice colleagues. She fined me 200,000Vnd-$13 because I refused to be transfered and would not follow the company regulations, even though they'd actually broken the agreement. Everyone was really surprised that I shouted because I am pretty easy- going and that was also the first time that a staffmember talked to her like that. A friend of mine also quit his job because of a similar situation, and when he came back to the restaurant to get his salary, the owner said to him that he doesn't know him, he had never ever met him before, then he called the security guy to throw him out. Every staff member was really upset about that but they couldn't do anything because they didn't want to lose their jobs.

Exhibition picture

The second place I applied to was the Sofitel Metropole. I got through the interview easily but at the end they didn't recruit me because they called the Emperor and the owner told them that I was a really bad employee who can't speak English well and don't really know how to work in a high class restaurant. I was really shocked when I heard that from the lady in human resources. I talked to my other friends who were no longer working there and they told me that the owner said the same thing to anyone who calls the restaurant to ask about someone's work history. I really don't know why they did that and wonder if the Sofitel Metropole is a very professional 5 star hotel if they take so much notice of that.

Exhibition picture

Anyway, I went back to the Sofitel Metropole again for my lastest interview for food and beverage manager. After I finished my writing test, in which I scored 86 or 88 points out of 100, the human resources manager told me to come back in 5 days to meet her general manager for a final interview. I went back and met the general manager, a French man and the Vietnamese Director. The first thing they said to me was your speaking is quite good but your writing was really bad. I didn't say anything even though I was really surprised about that. They asked me many questions and they asked me if I minded if they called the Emperor restaurant to check about my work experience there. I said of course, and I wanted to ask some questions about my working hours, salary.... and do you know what they told me? They told me that if I applied for a job in a professional hotel it means you have no right to ask about working hours. They both said that, and the French guy told me that he was at the hotel almost the whole day- I don't know why? He also told me that the hotel follows Viet Nam's labour laws. I said that I thought our country's working hours regulation was only 8 hours. The Vietnamese guy looked unhappy even though he knew I was right. He shut up. However, I also told them that if I was accepted to work there, then I would follow the hotel rules whatever they were. Then I asked them about the salary. They asked me how much I expected. I realized that I wouldn't get this job and I told them that I thought they should pay me at least $500 per month, before leaving.

Keys cut

It seems that I don't have the right to ask about working conditions.

Tobe continued


Anonymous said...

"human rights" or in your case employee rights sound good and righteous when we are all well fed and happy and talking about it while enjoying our $100 wine over a $200 steak dinner in the Western world. A country like Vietnam with an average income of less than $100/month would sound silly to talk about human rights. It always piss me off every time i heard my friends/colleagues talking about how bad the workers are being treated in VN. If Nike and/or any big Western firms will move their factory elesewhere if they couldn't get their shoes manufacturing for less than $2/pair and sell it for $80, than in what way or right do we have to talk about "human rights" in Vietnam. I sympathize for your job searching situation. But life in general in VN is getting better. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Sorry here about your interview situation. I believe that it is not unreasonable to ask about working conditions no matter where you live. Large foreign establishments should provide for better working conditions than what is currently in VN and not use the status quo as an excuse for exploiting their workers. I sympathize with your situation and hope that you will have better luck with another employer. Unfortunately, work is work and as long as you can clothe and feed yourself I find that to be a blessing. Good luck with the job search and may the new year bring with it new opportunites and experiences.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with what anonymous said about the lack of "human rights" or worker's rights in Vietnam. This is not silly talk, nor is it about being "righteous." Although it is good that foreign companies chose to bring jobs to Vietnam, it does not give them the right to exploit workers who would work under almost any circumstance because of their dire situation. It is unjust that the communist government of VN does not enforce labor laws to protect its citizens, that workers cannot establish labor unions, and that workers lack recourse to their grievances. What can the average person do? I think this blog is a good start. You need to continue to speak up and expose that people and places that are guilty of this kind of exploitation. What about an email drive? I'm sure that the internet is a good way to spread the word. If these businesses care about their reputation and about their customers, they'll eventually listen and change their unjust practices. Good luck with your job hunt.

junebee said...

Sounds just like the U.S. - restaurant and hotel workers get treated crappy.

Anyone who doubts your English writing ability needs to read this blog. The English is much better than that of some native speakers whose blogs I read.

alan said...

I'm with Junebee on the language thing!

I hope the job situation resolves itself and you find someone who appreciates your many talents as I do!


Anonymous said...

Why should the Vietnamese govt protect their citizens? They are corrupted and profits from these large corporations making products for low labor cost. In the meantime, an average citizen barely able to get by...

Anonymous said...

Vietnam's 5 stars hotel or restaurant is an euquivalent of a 2.5 or 3 stars hotel/restaurant in America. Vietnam is a long way away from having the great service. Don't get me wrong, the staff are usually really nice and friendly but the hotel owner doesn't always know how to provide exceptional customer service. The same thing applies to Vietnamese restaurants in America - horrible service!!!

Anonymous said...

there are quite some interesting points you raised here.

First, how could you apply for a F&B manager position in a 5 star Accor hotel when your last position was a captain? Do you know there's a huge gap between these 2 positions? It takes years of experience as well as qualifications to get from a captain to a f&B manager.

I graduated from Glion hotel school which is a reputable hotel school in Switzerland, had 3 years working experience in switzerland, thailand and vietnam (which is nothing I admit) and still I don't think I'm qualified yet to be a F&B manager.

Second, the GM of Sofitel Metropole was 100% right when he said you shouldn't ask about working hour. Mind you, working as a mid management or senior management in our industry is long and odd hour. Yea sure the labour law is 8 hours per day and 5 days per week but do you think a f&B manager would work with that kind of schedule? I myself work 12-13 hours per day, 6 days per week and I'm not even a F&B manager! Think about that Mister who consider himself God

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