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As a part of my professional responsibilities I have conducted several job interviews over the past few years ranging from the positions of interns who are keen on taking up projects within the organization to candidates who have applied for senior job roles (technology / business). Usually when I start an interview, I spend the initial few minutes in greetings, pleasantries and introductions, which is followed by a few questions to make the candidate comfortable. One popular question which I ask (and I know a lot of the interview panelists ask too) is about one’s reading habits.
A typical conversation goes as below:
Me: “So do you like reading?”
Candidate: “Yes” (I’m yet to come across any one who said that they did not like to read during an interview! Not possible by the law of averages right? Anyways!)
Me: “OK.. So what do you usually read?”
Candidate : “Books.. Magazines.. And the newspaper”
Me: “So what was the latest news you read in the newspaper?”
Candidate Response if its a boy/man (in a majority of the cases) : Very specific news update (usually with strong supporting data) on politics, economics, current breaking news of the state, India or across the globe or sports.
Candidate Response if its a girl/woman (in very many cases) : Stumbles…looks vague…laughs….
NOTE: I don’t intend to generalize or draw any conclusions here. I am only stating facts based on my personal experience and observations.
I wonder why is it that girls/women don’t really know what’s in the news? Or do they just not feel comfortable speaking up?
As I try to find answers, I observed that in many an Indian household, the first thing which the boys/men (read as grandfather, father, father-in-law, husband or son) do as soon as they open their eyes is to get clued and glued into the news – be it through the print paper, radio, TV, Twitter, Facebook, news feeds or whatever! But that’s NOT the first thing which girls/women (read as grandmother, mother, mother-in-law, wife or daughter) would typically do when they wake up. In fact, many girls/women don’t even know whats in the news till much later in the day. And many don’t even know what the breaking news was a day or two ago! (And I am as guilty as charged here because on some days as a working mother, I just don’t have the time to know what’s in the news!)
As I pondered on the BIG WHY, I realized that it probably has to do with the social conditioning of what a girl/women’s role is at home, and the expectations of the people around her (read as family / society). And this lack of timely knowledge on the news was probably acceptable as long as girls/women were confined to the four walls of the house. But with women of today entering the workforce as competent professionals speaking with customers across the globe, taking on challenging work responsibilities and attempting to break the ‘glass ceiling’ , I think it is VERY VERY IMPORTANT to be aware and know whats in the news.
It is now expected that you know what’s in the news , and knowledge is indeed power (It is the ‘knowledge era’).
Sometimes it can help strike a dialogue with your CEO.
Sometimes it is what will enable you to network.
Sometimes it will help in providing a quick response to a query.
Sometimes it will enable you to make intelligent conversation with those who matter.
Sometimes it can be the deciding factor in a job interview.
Sometimes it can just prevent you from looking like a fool.
Sometimes it can be the reason why others did not take you for a ride.
Sometimes it can help in you being able to socialize better.
Sometimes it can be the only reason for you to gain visibility amongst everyone else.
Sometimes it can get you that promotion.
Sometimes it can help in winning that business deal.
All in all, it does only GOOD to know what’s in the news!
As I conclude, I leave you with a question:
Girl, do you know what’s in the news?
If yes, can you speak about it for 3 minutes?
If yes, great…
If No, can you do something about it from today?
Do take the time to KNOW what’s in the NEWS – especially if you are a girl/woman.. Whatever be your source / channel, make sure you set aside some time everyday to get updated on the current news! In the long run, it will only be beneficial for you!
Pic credit: Ankur (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Working Mom • Marketologist - Digital Artisan - Brand Storyteller • Ideapreneur • Writer - Blogger - Columnist • IIMB Alumni • Mentor • Horizon
An apt article. As a woman who finds newspapers more interesting than the soap operas that my female relatives gush about, I have often been criticised for being “OLD” just because I never fail to read newspapers (Internet or hard copy). Even some of my male colleagues tease me about my “Newspaper” reading ritual everyday. I guess, our society is hardwired to view any woman with suspicion who shows interest in knowledge gathering!!!
Shonali – I think you’ve cultivated a great habit for life. In the long run, it will hold you in good stead.
Yes, I know Nischala irrespective of what people say!!. My newspaper reading habit is the reason that I am the only woman member in my company’s Quiz Team. It is the reason for my impeccable English skills.
I wish this habit was inculcated by majority of female population in India.I have seen housewives who have no qualms about spending hours in gossip and watching Saas-Bahu serials but plead lack of time when it comes to reading newspapers or teaching their 6 yr old kid!!!
Shonali – Super! Congrats on being in the Quiz team .. The words “only woman” make me happy.. Its a positive sign of *significant* changes..
Agree completely with you!
I love reading the news and enjoy discussing it with my hubby…my parents love reading the news too..
Reading the news definitely broadens you mind, improves your confidence, vocabulary, knowledge etc.
I loved your points at the end..in my profession, i deal with the top management and i need to be aware of latest happenings…i don’t think you can contribute productively in a discussion if you are not updated…
Sri – I agree. Sometimes it becomes mandatory as part of our work responsibilities. But you made a very interesting point. That you read and discuss with hubby and family. I think that is the key. If people around you read, debate, discuss and exchange view-points it will be a way of life.. If people around you are talking bollywood, TV serials, gossip, etc. – chances are you will catch on to this ! Thanks for leaving a comment
Its important to inculcate this habit at a very young age- the accompanying image is apt!
Newspapers have something to offer for most type of interests, despite the deluge of advertisements. Besides the job/career aspects, newspapers often have interesting tidbids about health, environment or specific city news that may not be shown on TV.
At times, newspapers publish interesting photographs of local happenings, sightings which can generate interest and pride in the heritage of one’s own city- something that is often lacking.
Archana – Well said! It is important to start reading from a young age, and once it becomes a habit – it usually stays for life. And you’re right. You can read, learn and gain knowledge of many diverse things!
This article actually prompted to think about today’s news and I heaved a sigh of relief when I could quickly recount 5 current news topics! N yes, I totally agree that knowing what’s in the news can be a conversation starter and a saviour in many an awkward moment. I started religiously reading the newspaper only after a humiliating incident when everyone in the conference room started discussing about a political situation that I knew nothing about!
Shireen – Know what you mean.. Been there at those conference room sitting clueless.. And then you tell yourself that you HAVE To make the TIME for this! It affects one’s career growth after a point and I’ve seen it! Better to invest in knowing that to regret later.. And glad you could tell the Top 5 🙂
I used to read out interesting bits of news to my son(age-appropriate) from the time he was about 5 or 6 years old. I don’t have a daughter, no gender-bias there. So, he grew up with an interest in current events. I also find that many of his friends, girls and boys are also up to date with the news. In fact, they are often found discussing pros and cons of the current happenings.
That’s great to hear, and its an excellent way to develop in child’s interest in news. I should apply it too. Great tip! Thanks for stopping by
Great read. Something I have seen around a lot. I have come across really intelligent (defined by society) girls scoring high in schools and colleges and not knowing the basics of what is going around them, the society, even the area they live in, leave aside the world.
It is rather sad that someway this defines us. I mean, there are boys around me too who don’t know anything about whats going on except for business news or news that interests their career gains. But I agree, the ratio of such girls is much higher than such boys. It is also true that our social conditioning has happened and shaped this situation where we are today. And while more and more girls are inclined towards reading newspapers, some guys tell me they are scared of girls who know a lot! 😛
In totality, the habit of reading a newspaper or for that matter staying in touch with the world happenings via social media needs to be included in daily lifestyles.
Suchi – I have seen many of these girls too! And I’ve seen too many guys / men who don’t like it if a girl / woman speak up with facts / data / valid points on a subject / issue. They’d do everything in their capacity to put her down! May be they feel challenged in their own territory.. Whatever! I agree that the best way & only realistic solution is to possibly make it a part of your everyday life like brushing your teeth. Thanks for stopping by
“Read newspaper before you go to school”…that was a strict instruction from my mom in childhood. And that really helped. I did knew what was happening around. And it helped me always as it became a habit. And yeah when we know what’s new it always initiates interesting conversation with friends and colleagues.
A very apt article.
Sheethal – Great habit inculcated at a young age. Kudos to your mom 🙂
I am glad I have twitter to update me with the latest news. I browse through it while I make my morning tea and breakfast. My mom used to have the newspaper open in front of her in the kitchen in the mornings while she worked there too. It is good that we women are good at multitasking. 🙂
oh yes Jyothi! Twitter is a great source for news updates.. We need to adopt technology with time. But at the core, I think seeing your mom do it make you believe it was a way of life. That is the key I think. And I guess mom’s seem to influence this habit more than the dad’s. Surprising, but I guess its true!
You ought to read simply cause u cant afford to be ignorant in this IT era!
Meena – Well said! There’s a *time-lag” between *ought to do* & *actually do* 🙁
a very apt article. most the females do not read news. but are up-to-date on the on-going soaps , latest styles (not bad) but do not take interest in current affairs. One SHOULD read or watch news because one should know what is happening in and around one-self.
yes Kalpana.Tx for stopping by
You are bang on, Nischala. Have experienced this so many times. Girls/women are usually not into news and latest happenings but are certainly aware of the Page 3 activities. In today’s competitive times, one should be aware of news.
Shilpa – Thanks for stopping by! You are right – I know of women who have time for TV / gossip, etc. but no time for news and views! Math does not add up, but then it need not always add up for everyone right? !
Totally agree that sensible news is something that girls need to pick up as a habit. But a lot also depends on the people you are surrounded with. Till I was at my parents’ place, 30 min in the morning were spent in front of the newspaper. That’s what everyone did. When I started living alone, the habit continued. When I moved in with in-laws, the newspapers lay untouched till 11 am, which meant I (and every working person in the house, including the men) got their share of news only on reaching office. Even today when I go back to mom’s place, I get back into the morning newspaper habit. Also most women are socially conditioned to discuss gossip; reason 1: if they start discussing news, they won’t find many females peers. reason 2: if they start discussing news with men, most of the times it’s seen as a joke and as someone above said, the woman is just put down.
So there is the question of “should do” and “how to do”. Food for thought 🙂
Pingback: 50 Things I wish I’d truly understood (as a WOMAN) when I started my corporate career | Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions…
It’s true many of us ignore the importance of reading the news on a daily basis. Sometimes our work schedule becomes a hindrance. But all in all we cannot ignore the fact that keeping ourselves updated with the latest news will always gain us brownie points. I loved the varied reasons you’ve listed, to keep ourselves updated with the latest happenings
Guilty as charged. I was a diligent news reader during my academic years. Not just Hindu, IE or Toi, but also magazines like Tehelka, Down to Earth, Outlook etc. I would also check sites like Caravan, nytimes, guardian etc. I did Eng, Journalism Dip & then MA in Social Work. My studies demanded it and it helped me a great deal to debate, improvise essays, assignments etc.
Ever since I started working some 6 years back, news reading got limited to FB updates. Now not even that. When I get time to read, I pick up a novel. And like you said, I cannot speak about any news for even 30 seconds let alone 3 minutes. I really want to get back into it again. But I just cannot focus. I get distracted with something or the other. And even if I painstakingly finish reading one news piece, I will forget it by noon. I guess I have to keep trying. And the worse thing is, I dont even have an excuse. I am single women with a 9 to 5 job living my life. In fact, my college days were busier and I still found time to read new. Confusing & frustrating!
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