I'm working in India and have been asked to take an interview of someone for a particular post. I was asked as I am the only one here who uses the technology required.

I wish to know how I should refer to the interviewee considering that they are quite more experienced and older than I am. Please note that using the first name of you senior is considered quite rude here while last name is too formal/awkward.

Normally, I'd go with sir/ma'am, but I am afraid of how the interviewee might perceive it (I don't want to go down the "please dont call me sir" spiral).

I don't wish to botch this up as this is an opportunity in the end and because the interviewee might become my colleague in the future.

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    To be honest, I think they are more likely to be offended that they are being interviewed by a "junior" (no offence) that whatever you call them. – Gregory Currie Sep 25 at 5:55
  • I forgot to mention, thankfully this is a telephonic interview. Also, my manager would be taking a second round of technical. – Bhoot Sep 25 at 6:02
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    How do you normally address people in your area in a professional setting? For example if "Mr. so-and-so" is the norm, then you should follow that example. I think the real problem with "sir" is that it makes it seem like you are trying to be polite but perhaps you actually didn't even bother to remember his name, so maybe it comes across as insincere politeness. – Brandin Sep 25 at 9:59
  • Recall that if you will be colleagues, you will need to work together as equals. Address them as an equal, and as you would expect to address them if you were working together as equal team members. At least at the start, they may bring more experience in the technology than yourself, but you will bring more experience in the company. That is a valuable asset that is required to complete work. – jsarbour Sep 25 at 13:08
  • If that's only the 2 of you, you could maybe just adress to him using the word "you" ? I mean, if firstname and last name can't be used, if "sir" can be misperceived, you don't have many alternatives... – Laurent S. Sep 25 at 15:22

I don't wish to botch this up as this is an opportunity in the end and because the interviewee might become my colleague in the future.

That simply requires you to be professional during the interview, don’t make any judgements etc based on preconceived biases, and simply keep yourself to the technological questions. Calling a person older than you by their first name is the normal during an interview (yes, in India as well).

In fact, I would caution you against using Sir/Ma’am type of titles in interview, they are a direct signal that you are an inexperienced interviewer, and an experienced candidate can use this inference to their advantage.

Rather, take it as an opportunity to present to this person that they are going to be working with technically competent people after clearing all the rounds.

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    Also, in India, people usually don't call using last names. – Anish Sheela Sep 26 at 2:25

I'm going to take a bit of a counter-answer on this one. You're approaching this situation from a perspective of "He's better than me, he's more senior than me, I better not do anything that might make him look down on me."

What? No. You're conducting this interview because the company respects your abilities in the technical field. They're relying on you to tell them whether he is up to snuff. Keep in mind, if the company knew for certain the guy was technically competent and an expert in the field, would they bother scheduling a technical interview? Your job is to make sure that he really is as proficient as you hope and his resume indicates. So if you go into the interview with a deferential attitude, you actually hinder your ability to do your job - or put it another way, a good BS-artist could probably snowball you since you're visibly deferring to whatever they say.

Be confident in your abilities.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying to be disrespectful, condescending, or anything like that. Instead, approach the situation like he's your equal, and you're simply out to make sure that he'd be a good technical addition to the company. So in that vein, treat them the exact same way anyone applying to the position your age/experience would be.


You can probably get away with not using any title/name at all and just carry on with the interview.

Start with something like

Hello, nice to meet you. How was your journey?

The interviewee will also probably recognize the social/cultural aspect of this interaction and be glad to avoid any uncomfortable exchanges.

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