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Thursday January 24th 2019

Why Singaporeans lost out during job interviews (

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The Problem with Singaporeans

Mr Wang said: 

I was chatting with an old friend. She’s a headhunter specialising in lawyers. 10 years ago, which was probably around the time I first got to know her, her work was mostly about recruiting Singaporean lawyers for local law firms and corporations. … She made one interesting observation. She says that Singaporeans consistently lose out to the Australians, the Brits and the Indians in one important respect. Singaporeans are not as articulate. They don’t speak so well. They are more reserved.

So at job interviews, Singaporeans consistently appear to be less capable than they really are. Consequently, the Aussies, the Brits and the Indians often get the job instead. (“In particular, the Indian lawyers,” my friend remarked, “are excellent talkers”).

My headhunter friend is a little saddened by this. She knows that many of these Singaporean candidates are at least as capable and competent as the foreigners. It’s just that culturally, the typical Singaporean candidate does not feel comfortable aggressively tooting his own horn and singing his own praises at a job interview. This misplaced Asian sense of modesty/humility ends up killing his own chances.

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