Singapore Job Interview Tips

Working abroad sounds like an adventure to many people. However, to get work in Singapore requires thorough preparation to pass the Singapore job interview. You will face issues that probably did not even cross your mind when you start the search for employment in Singapore.

Do not get the wrong idea about the impact the Singapore job interview can have on the result of your adventure! For example, you will experience the different immigration rules and habits, job application procedures, selection trends and the management culture. So, be prepared to take Singapore as it is with all of its difficulties, contradictions and challenges.

Most visits to Singapore are trouble-free but you should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against Western interests and civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners like restaurants, hotels, clubs and shopping areas. In recent years the Singaporean authorities have carried out a number of investigations and operations against terrorist networks.
You should exercise a high level of security awareness and monitor local news broadcasts and consular messages. Ensure that your travel documents and visas are current, valid and secured in a safe place. Carry a photocopy of your travel documents in lieu of the originals. Maintain a low profile, vary times and routes of travel, and exercise caution while driving. Making local contacts quickly and seeking support from other expatriates will greatly increase your comfort and safety.

It is common that if a prospective company is interested in the applicant and the applicant lives outside of Singapore, they may start the interview process over the phone or via video-conferencing. If after such an interview, the company remains interested in the applicant, the company may fly an applicant out for an in-person interview, paying for airfare and accommodations.

Prepare for more than one job interview. Do not be surprised if the prospective employer seems to know a great deal about you. Often Singapore employers research job applicants before the interview.

In recent years it becomes increasingly popular to join the LinkedIn or Facebook social networking websites for professionals, where you may search for jobs and have your keyword-optimized, rich content profile with a current resume. Hiring managers use them more frequently to consult your profile and supplement or check against the resume you send along. If you do not have an account, create one and include your social media link(s) on your resume.
However, you should manage your online presence. Eliminate any photos and statements that could reflect poorly on you. From an employer’s point of view, someone who emphasizes partying on a social networking site is not focused on jobs and those who post complaints about work or colleagues are less desirable candidates. Online resume should not include sensitive information as they could show a lack of respect for confidentiality and discretion.

Although English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil are spoken in Singapore, job interviews are usually conducted in English. In rare cases, for business with a Chinese background, the interview may be conducted in Mandarin. English is the primary language used in business, education, science and technology and the majority of Singaporeans speak it rather well. Most Singaporeans are at least bilingual and many speak all four languages.

Practice your few-sentences "speech" about who you are and what you do. Do not whine. Do not talk about being jobless. Do not criticize your former employers, bosses or colleagues. Be positive.

You cannot over-prepare for an interview. Find out information about the company you want to work for. Check the company's Web site and annual report. Research the prospective host country’s cultural and business practices so you can make a good first impression.

Before the interview get the names (in English) of those you will meet or/and speak to. Learn their full names with correct pronunciation and how to address them in person. If possible, ask for details of the interview structure, i.e., who will be interviewing you, for how long and how many other candidates are there?

Appropriate dress is considered a sign of respect in Singapore. Therefore, appearance – especially at an interview – is extremely important. So, dress and present yourself well

Punctuality is expected and respected, so arrive 10-15 minutes before a job interview to allow time to go through building security, elevator transit times and reception procedures (security passes). Call if you are delayed. Tardiness is viewed as a sign of disrespect. Turn off your cell phone.

Show your friendly face. Look less serious and more cheerful. Sustain a relaxed manner, maintain brief eye contact while talking with someone and restrict the use of gestures. Do not sit until invited.

Firmly shake hands with everyone present. It is advisable to wait for a woman to offer her hand to a man. Singaporeans may bow slightly as they shake your hand. Therefore, it would be polite to respond with a small bow, particularly for older people.

It is best to wait for introductions rather than introducing yourself. Higher-ranking persons are introduced before those of lower rank. An older person comes before a younger person and a woman before a man.

Introductions usually consist of a formal title and first name first followed by the surname. Titles are important. Use professional or academic titles or Mr., Mrs., Miss with the last name when addressing someone. It is polite to inquire about a person's health or activities upon greeting. Avoid discussing religion and politics.

Singaporeans may stand close when talking; however, they are reserved and uncomfortable with body contact. Do not hug or pat people on the back.

Do not forget that the same keywords you used in your resume will be the foundation for your job interviews. Not only you need to be able to write about your keywords, but also during an interview, you must be able to talk about them as well in strong and powerful statements that highlight your successes, contributions and achievements.

Upon introduction, present your business card with both hands. Look at a business card upon receiving it in order to show respect. Do not write on a business card in front of the person who gave it to you.

When invited, sit forward and do not slouch or lay back in the chair. Keep your hands still and avoid fidgeting. Do not show anger or emotions or raise your voice. Remain disciplined and in control.

The job interview is a time of mutual assessment. Usually, the prospective employer starts with a short, perhaps a few minutes, introduction of the company and interviewer(s). The purpose of it is to give you some idea about the company and its operation and to give your prospective employer a chance to get a first impression.

Do not hesitate to ask for clarification of a statement or question if you do not understand.

It is common for interviewers to ask candidates to introduce themselves briefly at the start of the interview. The best responses to this will include a brief summary of experiences relevant to the position being interviewed for.

Interviews in Singapore can be conducted either individually or as part of a group.

  • An individual interview is more common, with the candidate meeting with one or more interviewers.
  • At group interviews, several candidates meeting together maybe ask to discuss a topic or to answer questions one at a time.

Questions in either type of interview may not be limited to the position. Some interviewers, for example, may ask about current events. 

Pausing, before responding to a question, indicates that you have given the question appropriate thought and considered your response carefully. Do not speak loudly. Talk clearly, slowly and with simple sentence structures, effectively demonstrating your knowledge of the industry and/or the company. Do not interrupt the interviewer and criticize former employers.

When listening to a native talking in a foreign language, it is very important to nod showing that you are listening and understand the speaker.

Make sure you know the technical terms of your industry. Remember that the same keywords you used in your CV or resume and cover letter will be the foundation for your job interviews. During an interview, you must be able to talk about them in strong and powerful statements that highlight your successes, contributions and achievements. Repeating your main points indicates you are telling the truth.

It is an advantage to have a degree from a well-ranked university, as this is highly regarded in Singapore. Be aware that the Singapore government insists on degrees from accredited universities.

You need to show that you are flexible, culturally sensitive, able to adapt to new circumstances and cultures and that you possess some perseverance and motivation (for the job, not the location!).

Remember that documents like the originals or photocopies of school and university diplomas, qualifications, certificates, passport, letters of reference (they are usually verified, so notify your referees in advance) and application forms (where appropriate) may be requested at an interview. An extra CV or resume can be handy too. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression!

During job interview do not volunteer information that the interviewer does not ask for

Prepare for all kinds of questions about yourself, your skills, qualifications, experience and hobbies, and answer them as fully as you can in an organized manner, avoiding yes and no answers. Especially prepare to answer questions about yourself:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Tell me something about yourself.
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • What benefit will the company have if it selects you rather than other candidates?

Discrimination laws are not as stringent in Singapore as they are elsewhere in the world. Personal questions are usually avoided. However, consider in advance how you are going to tackle them. If you feel uncomfortable with a question asked, simply smile and say, "In my country, that would be a strange question."

Your questions provide a final opportunity to sell yourself to the interviewer(s). Ask questions about the organizational structure, your prospective role in it, the nature of the job, the lines of authority, your future responsibilities and career potential, but avoid raising the issue of salary or benefits early in the process. Do not forget to ask, “When can I expect to hear from you?” (if you did not discuss that).

Before leaving, thank everyone present for the interview and give each one a firm handshake.

After the interview, do not forget to write thank-you letters to all interviewers and subsequently follow-up by letter, email or phone call. Employers regard this as an indication of your strong interest in the position.

Write down the information and issues that you discussed in the interview for future reference.

Following the interview to inquire as to the outcome, politely request information on the status of your application if the potential employer does not respond for a week or two. Feel free to send them an email or call.

If your interview is unsuccessful, do not be afraid to call and ask for feedback. This can be invaluable advice to enhance your next round of job applications.

Other Singapore Job Interview Info

When you receive an invitation to the Singapore job interview, check the job interview dos & don'ts, job interview tips and other job search skills pages. Find out why people are not hired for available jobs.

Prepare yourself for a job interview by taking a look at the Singapore dress code because how you dress is one of the most important attributes in being hired.

Apply for the Singapore visa and/or Singapore work permit/pass if you did not apply yet.

We hope that your Singapore job interview has been successful. So, follow up the interview with a thank you letter. Employers regard this as an indication of your strong interest in the position.

In addition, on the international info, job search, visa, work permit, cover letter, CV & resume, job interview and dress code pages you will find many useful tips for overseas job seekers.

Good luck with your Singapore job interview.