Life In Cairo

How Egyptians Do (Or Rather Don’t) Do Interviews! The Reason Behind Unemployment in Egypt…

For the last few months there has been a business plan developing. I’ve always wanted to have my own business and always dreamed that one day ill be brave enough (and have enough cash, of course) to do it!

This day has arrived.

I’ve always been interested in nails and have done my own acrylic nails since I was 16, and had them done professionally in salons in many different countries. So when I arrived to Egypt and saw how cheap it was here, I thought Id hit the jackpot and could have acrylic nails for the rest of my life… I’ve had them done 4 times so far and not once have I been happy with the result and the last time I got them done about 3 months ago, I just thought enough is enough, does nobody know how to do nails in this country? And customer service, you ever heard of this?

Just to name a few of the problems I encountered the last time I visited a nail salon here in Egypt. There were 5 people standing at the reception of the nail salon when I entered. Not one person greeted me and I ended up standing for about 6 minutes before I had to inform them that I had arrived. My appointment was not in their system (which was just a scribbly note-book!) and they told me to go sit anywhere… Thanks for showing me to my seat! I, THE CUSTOMER, waited for the nail technician to finish what she was doing on her phone to serve me. I told her I want acrylic nails done quite long with french manicure. She tells me: NO I cannot do this, you want french then they will be short, you want long then they will be a colour… I mean honestly what do you say when this is the attitude of the woman giving you a service… If she says no, then i guess it means no… There are so many things wrong that I just don’t know how to react… NUMBER ONE rule is the customer is always right, and you never say NO to a customer… I mean I can do french manicure on myself at home then, if you’re not willing to offer me this… Anyways long story short, going to this nail salon made me want to leave the country, that’s how depressing the experience was… The place was extremely dirty even though they had 2 cleaners just standing around staring at the customers… The workers were talking shit about the owner who was sat further in in the salon doing her eyebrows… The poor girl (customer!!) sat next to me was asked more than 5 times to pass the nail technician stuff that was out of her reach such as paper towels… And the worst part was none of the equipment was sterilised, and the nail file she used on me was so worn that it didn’t file. Yet she managed to rip my skin on 3 different fingers and make me bleed. She asked for a new nail file and they checked but didn’t have anymore in stock… YES, YES, YES, you heard right, the NAIL salon didn’t have anymore NAIL FILES in stock… All my nails were different thickness, and different length and it honestly looked like my son had done them, plus I was bleeding… Not a pleasant experience…

This is when my husband suggested I open my own place… I know this sounds crazy, and it probably is, but I’m sooo freaking excited! Now as you all know I’m still in Egypt… And doing ANYTHING in Egypt is like fighting world war 3… The saying that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger does not apply here in Egypt.. What doesn’t kill you, just sucks all the life out of your system and makes you want to go hide in a dark room for weeks… It makes you a miserable, depressed person, not stronger at all, just a lot weaker will a lot less will to do anything except stay at home and never face another Egyptian! Except my husband! Hahaha!

So we have found the location of the place after searching long and hard! And we recently had interviews to find some people we can train. I’m not going to open a nail salon here in Egypt the way everyone else does… Find a nail technician that has no education and only experience and let her teach all the new employees. Outside Egypt its an actual degree, you study it and get a diploma… You don’t just go with the flow and hope you learn by fucking up loads of people’s nails!?

So we put an ad in the main newspaper here in Egypt as well as some smaller newspapers. The locking myself in a dark room experience started as soon as the ad was printed. In total we received about 60-70 calls. YEPP thats alot! Now lets break it down for you.. This is Egypt.. You ready?

90% of the calls were the male species calling to find a wife/some fun, after all its a nail salon and the owner will probably be a women.. Can you imagine their shock when my husband answered!

3% of the calls were people wanting to know the salary we were planning on paying our employees… Not interested, just nosey…

2% of the calls were people playing ‘lets call the person and hang up when they say hi’ game… It was very funny, we laughed alot when they called, we said hi and they hung up! HAHAHAHAHAHA get a freaking life! Or a JOB maybe!

1% of the calls were people who were kind of interested in the job.

Most of the people who replied to the Facebook ad I posted were expecting a million dollars in salary even though they had no training… One woman asked me about the salary and when I replied she told me this  was way too low as she has some experience and is a foreigner. I asked her what experience: Filing and cutting nails.. WOW hold your horses woman why didn’t you tell me about your magnificent resume with this amazing talent! I would have offered you an amazing salary if I knew you could CUT AND FILE NAILS… Wow… Oh and she expected a better salary because she was from Kenya, much better than Egyptians (her exact words!).. I didn’t realise I was hiring a passport, I swear last time I checked it was the service that was important in a nail salon, not the passport of the woman doing your nails!

So we managed to gather 3 Egyptian girls for the interviews and found one Philippine girl who was interested. We set up all the interviews for one day in a cafe.

This is how the day was planned:

11:30 – Philippine woman was supposed to be interviewed. She showed up at 12:45, ONE hour and 15 minutes LATE, to a freaking JOB INTERVIEW!!!!!!

12:00 – An Egyptian woman was supposed to be interviewed. !5 minutes late WE called her. She was on her way but running late… She arrived 30 minutes LATE for the freaking JOB interview!

13:00 – Another Egyptian woman was supposed to be interviewed. 25 minutes later we called her, she is on her way but will be there in one hour! YEEEES, one hour after 25 minutes ALREADY late!

14:00 – We had the last appointment for the day with another Egyptian woman. We decided to wait until 15 minutes past for both the previous extremely late woman and the one due at 14.

14:10 – No sign of anyone. WE called the super late woman from 13:00 and told her we are leaving…Noooo No wait please, I’m just around the corner from your office in Rabaa (which is more than 30 minuter from our location!!). You will not be here in 10 minutes because we are in Rehab (Our location). Oh wait are you not ‘something electrics’…. No we are a nail studio… Oh then I’m sorry its my misunderstanding, I thought you were another business… Thank you but im not interested in working in a nail salon… WOW WOW WOW, thank you your HIGHNESS! If you weren’t interested why did you call us and arrange an interview, HUH??? I mean I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

By the way, we didn’t call the woman due to arrive at 14:00 for her appointment and we NEVER got a call from her, which means she never showed up.

Yesterday we had another interview planned for 12:00 at the same cafe. I told my husband to call her one hour before to make sure we don’t get dressed, leave our home and she ends up coming late or something… My husband calls her…. Oh I was just going to call you but I have some stuff to do today so let’s make the interview tomorrow… OH WOW, Im sorry again YOUR HIGHNESS for making the interview at such an INCONVENIENT time for you… Please do let me know when I can be at your service for the next interview… HOW about we reschedule for F*** YOU O’CLOCK AND SCREW YOU AND THE JOB YOU WILL NEVER EVER GET!

So to summarise what happened during the interviews of the people who actually made it…. NOBODY brought a CV… NOONE was dressed appropriately for an interview… The only Egyptian that came didn’t want to work with nails, she had come to be interviewed for the job as a MANAGER of the salon… She had no whatsapp, snapchat, facebook, instagram, email or ANY experience with technology and she wants to manage the salon… Hmmm, she obviously can’t read either because in the ad we were looking for nail technician, not one word about a manager. The Philippine woman came with her sister and a friend and a 5-month old baby… She said they were also interested in working for us, so we could interview them too. Her friend with the 5-month old baby didn’t think the salary was enough and was expecting us to provide accommodation, even though she didn’t have any experience… You know what, I want a BENTLEY, but hey life is unfair… We are a nail salon not a hotel… Her sister was not interested at all and the girl I interviewed that was the one set up for an interview was perfect for the job except she had no professional experience, smoked, was telling ME what salary she would expect (even though she had no training!), would expect ME to pay for transport, comes ONE AND A HALF HOUR late to the interview and says she was late because she was picking up her friends… And then brings her whole family to the interview.. On top of that, she actually has a residency visa that states: NOT ALLOWED TO WORK! The perfect candidate! One Egyptian didn’t show up, another one went to the wrong interview, and the last one found the interview time  SHE had arranged to be inconvenient for her because she had OTHER STUFF to do…

First impressions are the last impression, and Jesus the impressions I got make me want to VOMIT! Some didn’t even come so I couldn’t even get a first impression! And people wonder why they don’t have a job…

Okay, see you later I’m going to the dark room to hide and ill come back out when Egypt is a place with roses and butterflies and the employees respect the employers, and people actually want the job they apply for… And come to the interview prepared, or actually just FREAKING come to the interview.. If you cant get your ass in gear and go to an interview, how do you expect to get a job?

Ahhhh dark room with no Egyptians I have missed you…

On a happier note, here are a few more pictures from our recent Abu Dhabi, Dubai holiday!

bahaa 085 bahaa 080 bahaa 069 bahaa 088 bahaa 095 bahaa 118 bahaa 133 bahaa 139




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14 thoughts on “How Egyptians Do (Or Rather Don’t) Do Interviews! The Reason Behind Unemployment in Egypt…”

  1. Hei Kristine!
    Du er en fantastisk skribent. Kanskje heller satse på en karriere som reporter. Noen ( jeg iallefall) er begeistret for dine oppdateringer fra ” everyday life ” i Egypt.
    “Guttungen” , det er det vi kaller dem i vår familie, er et nydelig lite barn. Flotte fotos tar du også.
    Jeg gleder meg til hvert nytt innlegg på bloggen din.
    Hilsen Wenche

    1. Hei Wenche… Tusen takk, det var kjempe koselig aa hore! Det er bra du leser bloggen, hyggelig aa vite at du vil folge med! 🙂
      Haha takk, han vokser fort, snart en liten mann! Takk, har vel arvet litt av mammas photo talent…
      Tusen takk for at du leser bloggen, og det er kjempe hyggelig aa vite at du liker den!
      Haaper de neste post er like bra!

  2. I experienced the same thing with nail salons. I even went to the best of the best who charge much more than what you pay for in north america. Their filing system made me bleed….she filed my cuticles not my nails to the point that i suffered two weeks of intense pain my fingers were throbbing! I got my nails done a total of 3 times this past year and refuse to do it again until i see a filipino lady or something that actually knows how to do nails and not give me attitude about it when i request for a certain style,shape and theme. So i feel you!!!!!!!

    Please open up that nail salon i will be your first customer! haha

    1. OUCH that sounds horrible! Stuff like that could shut the place down, if it wasnt in Egypt 🙂 Im so excited I have my first customer and we havent opened yet! 🙂 But we are moving along slowly… Soon there will be a new nail salon in town, and it will be filled with professionals, dont worry! 🙂 Thank you for commenting!

  3. LoL I couldn’t even finish reading before replying I’m laughing to hard. Sorry I’m from Canada and just got to egypt in October and laughing so hard. People here run on there own time always. It took me like 3 or 4 months just to get 8mb/s internet. Everyone is always late including days late. Anyway I will probably comment again I have to get to bed but this made me smile before bed. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for reading my blog! Haha well then I guess youve had a little of a culture shock already! Ugh it makes me so annoyed just reading about the internet issues and people being late… Im glad you enjoyed the post! And I hope the culure shock is starting to wear off!

  4. Great note 🙂

    But :
    1. I have to surprise you : there is one good salon in New Cairo ( Josy salon , road 79 ) . Her stuff is well trained , place is extremely clean . But of course the owner is not Egyptian 😉

    2. All the stories about interview are quite normal , : time or no time , not showing up , bringing family , wearing not formal clothes etc .

    3. If you wish to find foreigner stuff here in Cairo , no one will have permission for work here 😉 Just forget about visa . Or make an effort to get visa for them ( which costs money ) .

    All this things is telling you a foreigner person who is working as nail technician in Cairo 🙂

    Good luck 🙂


    1. Hi K
      Thank you for your comment and reading my blog. I agree with most of what you say..
      Ive actually never tried that salon, as I didnt hear about the katameya branch until recently, I knew about her maadi branch. I know the stories are normal, but they shouldnt be, I mean fine come late to a meeting with friends, but DONT come late to an interview, thats just disrespectful… And you honestly cant expect to get the job when you show up more than an hour late for the interview, right? Im fine with that, I get it, that its hard for foreigners to get work permits, but when I ask if I (ME) can get one for them, would this be okey, then they prefer to work illegally… Its really hard to start a business when people dont want work permits even if you offer them.. I mean I dont want to close in the first week of opening because everyone working in the salon is illegal!
      Thank you for your comments… Hope your not working illegally 😉

  5. I have a suggestion for you . You can go back to your country where you will not see Egyptians except your beloved husband!!!.Instead of insulting us in our country.Oh but guess what you left your civilized and modern country in which you didn’t find a job or husband and came here . In this country ,which you don’t like its people you married and have money to travel to Dubai. My advice is to be more polite when you speak about our country or LEAVE

    1. I know you probably wont get this reply, because the email looks fake, but I will reply you anyways…
      Thank you so much for your comment, advice, suggestions, opinions… Thank you for reading my blog also…
      I would like to point out that I never forced you to read my blog, you came here our of free will to read it… If you dont like what you see, go somewhere else, honestly im not going to force you to read my blog, and I dont care if you do/dont…
      I love your suggestion of going back to my own country, because I have done this.. I came here on holiday in 2003, then moved here to study in 2006, then did work experience here in 2010 and now I have lived here, MY COUNTRY, for two years… This is my country… So what if my passport is not green but red… So what if my parents are Norwegian… I moved to MY country because this is where I ME want to live… So now it is my home, thank you very much… There are alot of Egyptians all around the world, so whatever YOU have decided is my country, I am certain I will find some there… And let me correct you…I dont have a problem with Egyptians or I wouldnt be living here, with an Egyptian family-in-law, Egyptian husband and half an Egyptian son… I moved here out of my own free will, so obviously I dont have a problem with Egyptians…
      You just stated in your comment that ‘I left my civilized country’, which menas that you are implying that Egypt is not civilized… Hmmm you said it! I actually had a job when I left Norway, and have had several jobs in Norway that pay the same salary a day, that most Egyptians get in a month… Yet I still left the country to be in Egypt… I didnt search for a husband… I dont do the Egyptian style dating where you obsess over finding a husband.. I met a guy and fell in love and then we got married… Im sorry I didnt fall in love with someone who wasnt Egyptian… I fell in love with the man not the nationality…
      Now I dont understand what Dubai has to do with me living in Egypt and being married to an Egyptian.. If you are implying that I married a rich man that can take me to Egypt then im sorry to disappoint you… He works very hard for his money… Let me correct you that we travelled to Abu Dhabi… As this was cheaper… We stayed in a hotel in Abu Dhabi, because we couldnt afford the hotel prices in Dubai… The ticket there was free as my husband is a pilot, so we get a certain amount of free tickets per year that we only pay airport tax on… We drove twice to Dubai to see the place that was too expensive for us to fly to and sleep in… So before you judge my husbands or my bank account, why dont you check the facts…
      Anyways im not making up any stories.. If this shit didnt happen and I wouldnt write about it… Its not my fault that this country is so messed up… Why dont you tell Egyptians to stop doing things that I can write about because its soooo insane!
      I dont need to be more polite to anyone… Im super polite in person, and ive never offended an Egyptian in real life… This is MY (MINE, MIN, MI, MEIN) blog, and this where I vent all my anger out… this is my little place where I can say the truth about what annoys me… This is where all my bottled up aggression explodes, because I have to be so DAMN polite to everyones face.. So honestly if you dont like what you read, DONT READ IT….. Its simple…
      And stop telling me to go back to my country… I dont know what country YOU have decided is mine, or why you concider yourself the country police, sending everyone back where they belong!? This is my country and im staying here with my EGYPTIAN husband and my half EGYPTIAN son…

  6. Hey

    Stumbled across your amazing blog whilst searching about the marriage process in Egypt! Oh my gosh that was the most stressful time of my life thank you for the blog which came so much in handy!!!

    So I recently married my Egyptian sweetheart a month ago and it was unbelievable and you are so not kidding when it comes to the slow, complicated, ridiculous process! But glad to say I made it alive.. what a test!

    I am a British national and contemplating moving to Cairo so we can start our life.. I’m sure it will be so fun its insane but hopefully worth it for now until we can make the move to the UK if ever possible!

    I am trying to look for a job before coming out there to make it easier.. or does ‘easy’ not exist!? I have traveled backwards and forwards so many times to Egypt but never stayed more than a month so not sure living there will feel the same.

    Would be great to get another’s perspective!

    Ps your little boy is a cutie pie

    Hope to hear from you soon


    1. Hi Steph,
      Im so sorry about the late reply! Im sooo glad my blog was helpful! I sometimes wish I found somewhere it would just tell me straight forward what to do, but everytime I found somewhere that had some info about the process it would all be fake, or rather the egyptians had decided to change several steps! I completely understand your frustration! Its definately a test of your relationship, to get married here in Egypt, and im glad you did make it out alive! Maybe a littl bit stronger too! 🙂
      Living in Egypt is definately fun but also hard.. Nothing is straight forward, and when you think you are close to the finish line, someone comes stabs you in the back and runs away, leaving you to clean up the mess and continue on… I know this was a very gross description, but its probably how you might feel.. I mean my husband is Egyptian and he gets frustrated all the time! A job definately does not come easy… Trying to open a business here I realised that everything is the complete opposite to normal… I mean like the employee will tell you they want a higher salary, you have to beg people to work for you, contracts mean squat… Yeah so living here is definately different than staying for a while.. As long as you know that you have the option of leaving, it might make it easier for you… But of course it also depends on your financial situation and where you will be living.. You know where you will be staying? What kind of work are you looking for? Its easy to get a teaching job here with your passport… 🙂 If you have any more questions, id love to help you! Thank you for reading my blog! love kristine

  7. Hi Kristen,

    There are alot of points that I do agree with you about, that we do need to change here in Egypt,
    Especially about respecting time, As the same is happening to me whenever or (mostly) when i set an appointment with someone here then I have to wonder, is he going to show up at the exact time or not.

    I’m an Egyptian and I do respect time and I get there for the appointment at least 10 minutes earlier.

    My friends keeps telling me that I should travel abroad because I care too much about quality of life and Time respect and every other basic civilized world should be, but I keep telling them we are the ones that are not correct, the rest of the world is doing the same 🙂 and it’s not only me.

    The problem here in Egypt that we want to take shortcuts and not following the correct professional way.

    It’s always about how to get the money easily and not about how to work hard to earn it.

    But Believe me when I say, that this kind of mentality is changing, I know it is slowly happening, but I’m hoping for more momentum.

    Just if every one keep being positive and help others to understand the different, then that will be more constructive.

    I do want to ask you for a favor, please whenever you meet these negative experiences at your life, please try to guide them to the correct way first and always hope for the best, we are still not that bad.

    Although all the problem you meet here but still There are alot of educated and kind people around here.

    I’m saying that because I have traveled to many countries and some are in Africa and Europe and Asia.

    and Guess what, I found the same uncivilized people everywhere.

    Anyway, it was funny and educational to read your blog and I really wish you have better time while living in Egypt.

    Have a great life and my regards to your cute kid and your husband.


    1. Hi Wael,
      Thank you sooo much for reading my blog and commenting. Aahhh I hate when Egyptians do this.. They tell my husband this too that if he cant come late and not respect people then he should leave the country… and go to a country where people care about time issues! Why do they do this, instead of just changing their attitude, they tell everyone to leave! haha! I completely agree with you on the fact that everyone wants money, and they want alot and fast, which makes setting up a business where I dont mainly care about this hard… I do realise that some people are changing, and Egypt is a huge country so it will take time.. Yeah there are uneducated and stupid people all over the world! An im definately super intelligent either! hahaha! Thank you again for checking out my blog and I hope you understand that its not meant to offend Egyptians but rather enlighten people about what you can experience while living here… But im glad an Egyptian likes my blog and isnt horrifyed but what you read.. At the end of the day I live in this beautiful country… One thing I can say though is that Egypt has the most beautiful sunsets in the world! And when you meet a true honest Egyptian, he/she will be there holding your hand through absolutely everything!

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