Translation: Girl Denied Job Because She Brought iPhone to Interview, Can’t “Eat Bitter”

Translation: Girl Denied Job Because She Brought iPhone to Interview, Can’t “Eat Bitter”

I’ve always been interested in the role the iPhone plays in the psyche of modern day white collar Chinese.  On the one hand, it is an irresistible sign of modernity and technological triumph, a device so elegant and sexy yet practical and functional that most everyone remembers the first time we held one.  Besides just adding productivity to our personal and professional lives, spawning a ruthlessly competitive market of imitators, sparking a multi billion dollar app industry out of thin air, and indirectly inflating valuations of companies from Facebook to Verizon, it looks pretty cool in your hand.  This appeal has an undeniable allure for the face obsessed, brand hyper conscious middle and upper class Chinese consumer.

The flip side of these giddy consumer impulses is illuminating.  The reporting over the past year of the dismal conditions in Foxconn factories and related labor unrest made it impossible for anybody, American or Chinese, to ignore their own personal consumption ethics.  Further, the economics of the iPhone bluntly indicate China’s still lowly position on the global economic totem pole: in 2010, the WSJ estimated that despite manufacturing and assembling the majority of iPhone components, Chinese workers capture only 3.6% of the total iPhone value.  Finally, Chinese people are painfully aware there is no legitimate domestic competition in the high end smartphone market, going so far as to question whether the next Steve Jobs could feasibly be born, raised, and educated in China.

Alas, I will spare readers my sophomoric analysis of this topic, and instead turn to a fun translation.  This is a quick and breezy article about a college senior being rejected from a job interview for bringing her iPhone, which by owning, indicated her inability to work hard and endure hardships.  I’ve included a few selected comments from the article’s original site, highlighting the range of responses.

Girl Denied Job Because She Brought iPhone to Interview, Can’t “Eat Bitter”

Original article here

These days, the iPhone has fallen into favor among the youth.  Yet for one senior college student, the iPhone has brought major trouble.  She brought along her iPhone to a job interview, giving the employer the impression that her family is very well off, and she is unable to bear hardships.  She was not hired.

On the 24th, on a Changchun University internet message board, I saw a post claiming “I am a senior seeking job training, but but was unexpectedly denied because I brought an iPhone to the interview”.

I contacted the poster, “XiaoGao”, who described to me the troubles her iPhone has brought.  XiaoGao is a senior in college.  With studies coming to an end, lots of students are seeking internships.  XiaoGao sent her resume to several companies, and a few days ago, a recruiter called her and invited her to interview.

On the 23rd, XiaoGao arrived at the company for an interview, but after just a few minutes, the interviewer said the company wasn’t interested in hiring her.  What was the hardest to accept for XiaoGao was that she was denied was because she had brought an iPhone to the interview.

The employer was worried she can’t “eat bitter” (bear hardships).

“Just because a student uses an iPhone means we can’t do work?” XiaoGao questioned.  The interviewer said that she hasn’t yet graduated, and the phone was purchased by her parents, not by her own means and efforts.  He deduced she was a rich girl unable to bear hardships.  The work requirements at the company were substantial, requiring employees prepared to work hard, so they denied her.

“Sure, my family did buy my phone, but does this really say anything?  I didn’t bring it to flaunt my wealth” she said, still surprised her phone could wreck her interview chances.

I consulted several employers about their hiring policies.  An HR manager at another Changchun electronics company told me “The phone an employee uses or the car they drive have no relationship to work.  We look at the candidates talent, everything else is ‘floating clouds'”.

After visiting several high schools in Changchun, I found there are lots of students using iPhones.  A classmate surnamed Sun told me “Having an iPhone is completely normal, tons of my classmates have one.”

What are your views on XiaoGao being rejected for having an iPhone?  Let me know in the comments below.

Selected comments:

– “Support!  A student who hasn’t earned any money and buys a high end phone which costs thousands of RMB, this definitely is hard to accept!  There are lots of attractive phones on the market which are only several hundred RMB, students should learn how to work hard and live modestly.  After making money, paying back your parents and family is the proper way.”

– “Next time bring a Nokia”

– “F*** your mother for buying a foreign good”

– “I also doubt her work ethic”

– “From this cell phone incident, we can see the student didn’t take the interview seriously.  It is common sense to put your phone in your pocket- how will others know what phone you have?”

– “As soon as I saw this, I know this company doesn’t have a future”

– “She should say it is a fake, the interviewer would be comforted”

Original Chinese












– “支持!一个还没自己挣钱的学生消费数千元的高档手机,的确让人难以接受!市面上几百块的手机很多,也很漂亮,作为学生应该学会艰苦朴素,挣了钱先回报父母和家人才是正道”

– “以后拿个诺基亚去吧…”

– “买外国人的产品.死你妈的”

– “我也会怀疑她的工作态度”

– “确实是从手机里面看到这位同学对面试的不重视,按常理你的手机是放在口袋里,别人怎么知道你用什么手机呢?”

– “一看这见识。。就知道这公司没什么前途”

– “说自己拿到的是山寨,考官心理里平衡了!”

Word/phrases of note

青睐 (qīnglài)- In favor, accepted by
家庭条件 (jiātíng tiáojiàn)- Family (financial) conditions
实习单位 (shíxí dānwèi)- Internship, company offering internship
用人单位 (yòngrén dānwèi)- Employer
吃苦耐劳的员工 (chīkǔ nàiláo de yuángōng)- Hard working and dilligent staff
炫富 (xuàn fù)- Flaunt wealth, show off
高档手机 (gāodàng shǒujī)- High end cell phone
艰苦朴素 (jiānkǔ púsù)- Working hard and living simply
理里平衡 (lǐlǐ pínghéng)- Peace of mind, at ease  (NOTE: the kind folks at the Chinese language subreddit noted this is probably a typo of 心理平衡, roughly meaning the same thing.  I’m humbled people read this closely enough to find a one character typo all the way at the bottom, and a bit nervous such a discerning audience found their way here.  I love you Reddit, please don’t bite).

Original article-


2 thoughts on “Translation: Girl Denied Job Because She Brought iPhone to Interview, Can’t “Eat Bitter””

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