Interviewer 1: So you want to apply for the post of senior teacher at our school?
Teacher: Yes, sir.
Interviewer 2: What makes you think you can do the job?
Teacher: I am an MSc in Maths, I’ve done my Masters in Education, I have a special certificate for teaching information technology, I’ve written a book on Teaching Aids for Differential Calculus. Plus I have 25 years of teaching experience.
Interviewer 2: All that is fine, but can you cook?
Teacher: Eh? Oh my family loves my dim sum.
Interviewer 2: Not Chinese. I mean dal chawal, halwa, chana.
Teacher: Oh, I do cook those too sometimes.
Interviewer 1: Have you ever cooked on a mass scale, say for 300 kids or so?
Teacher: I’m afraid not, sir.
Interviewer 1: How much semolina would you require to make halwa for 500 kids aged 6 to 12?
Teacher: I really couldn’t say, sir.
Interviewer 2: Let us move on to academics. What is campylobacter jejuni?
Teacher: I don’t know, sir.
Interviewer 2: It is a curved, helical-shaped, non-spore-forming, microaerophilic bacteria, one of the most common causes of gastro-enteritis.
Teacher: Oh, but I’m a maths teacher.
Interviewer 3: So what? Don’t you have to protect food from bacteria?
Interviewer 2: Are you an expert in pest control?
Teacher: I honestly don’t think any child, even the worst, is a pest.
Interviewer 2: No, no. I was talking of real pests — cockroaches, rats.
Teacher: I’m actually rather scared of them.
Interviewer 1: Perhaps lizards are more in your line?
Interviewer 2: What is the best way to exterminate lizards?
Teacher: Well, they do say an asteroid collision with earth wiped out all the dinosaurs.
Interviewer 2: I’m asking about lizards in kitchens.
Interviewer 1: Can’t really count on asteroids destroying them, you know.
Teacher: I don’t know much about lizards.
Interviewer 3: Have you attended any courses on HACCP certification?
Interviewer 3: It’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, the international food safety certification programme. Funny you don’t know it.
Interviewer 1: What is the best way of sanitising utensils?
Teacher: Er…wash them, I guess.
Interviewer 3: Wash them with Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, not too much, just the right quantity.
Interviewer 1: Have you any experience of being a food taster?
Teacher: You mean, like the ones ancient kings had?
Interviewer 2: Also heads of State, heads of the mafia, other big shots.
Teacher: Thankfully, no.
Interviewer 1: You do have medical insurance?
Teacher: No, sir.
Interviewer 2: What? Do you expect us to pay your bills if you fall ill after tasting mid-day meals?
Interviewer 1: How on earth, madam, do you expect us to appoint you as a teacher when you can’t cook or supervise cooks, have no knowledge of bacterial infections, no experience of pest control, are unfamiliar with food safety rules and haven’t done any food tasting? How will you supervise the mid-day meal scheme? Frankly, I’m amazed you applied for the post.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. Views expressed by the author are personal.