Home / Church / ‘When Was the Last Time You Went to Church?’ – Major Armenian Sweets Company’s Questions to Job Candidates

‘When Was the Last Time You Went to Church?’ – Major Armenian Sweets Company’s Questions to Job Candidates

When conducting interviews with job candidates, representatives of Grand Candy, a major sweets company in Armenia, ask them about their religious beliefs and practices. Tamara Ohanjanyan and Astghik Turabyan, two women who went to a job interview at Grand Candy in June and September 2017 respectively, talked to Epress.am about their personal experiences.

“In early June, I saw a bacteriologist vacancy announcement on their website and submitted my CV. I got called in for an interview shortly after. There were 6 people in the room, 2 of whom, as far as I understood, were bacteriologists; there were also several young and an elderly men there. At first, they asked me questions relating to the profession, what university I had gone to, what experience I had, and other general question. But then they went off topic and began asking personal questions,” Ohanjanyan recalls.

The questions about her religious affiliation and beliefs in particular caught the woman completely off guard, she says. “They asked which religion I practiced. I was surprised and had to double check to see if I had heard the question correctly. You don’t usually get asked this type of questions at job interviews. I was shocked, but nevertheless I answered that I had no religious affiliation. They were even more shocked and began asking at once whether I was an atheist. I replied that I believed in God, but was not affiliated to any particular religion. They asked what I meant, and I replied that one could only decide which religion was the most relatable to them once they have studied all religions. They said, ‘What if your parents were to give you a cross [charm] now? Wouldn’t you wear it?’ I replied that no, I wouldn’t.”

A person’s religious affiliation or beliefs, Ohanjanyan is convinced, should not matter for a potential employer and should not be given more importance than a candidate’s professional skills or experience.

Astghik Turabyan, who went to an interview at Grand Candy this past September, recounts a story that is very similar to Ohanjanyan’s. “I took my CV with me to the interview. There were 6 or 7 of them sitting at a table. They were surprised at first that I had applied for a biologist’s vacancy because they were actually looking for a chemist. They asked what I knew about analytical chemistry, and I replied that I had studied it briefly in university. They asked whether I was prepared to work a 12-hour night shift and how much salary I expected. I said I would not work for less than 80 thousand drams.”

After talking briefly about the job requirements and terms, Turabyan recalls, the interviewers began asking her questions about her religious affiliation. “They suddenly asked, ‘When was the last time you went to church?’ I replied that I could not remember. They then asked whether I went to sect gatherings, to which I again gave a negative answer. They were really surprised; one of them even said, ‘I can’t believe this! You didn’t go to pray before defending your diploma?’ I asked, ‘Why would I have wanted to go to church before defending a diploma?’”

Epress.am reached out to Grand Candy for comment; a representative of the company advised us to contact AR TV, a television company included in Grand Holding, for any information regarding Grand Candy. An AR TV receptionist took our reporter’s number on Friday and promised to contact us as soon as possible to answer our questions. Epress.am, however, had not received a phone call from AR TV at the time of publishing this article.