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5 Things Not to Say at a Job Interview in Singapore

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Joanne Poh

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The job market isn’t looking so hot this year. Even if you waltz into a job interview looking like a supermodel with a strong dose of professionalism, you can be sure the guy before you came in looking even better, plus he had a first class honours degree.

You need all the help you can get. That means you want to avoid saying anything stupid during interviews, like the following:

 

Sorry I’m late

Of course the MRT broke down again! But guess what, the MRT breaks down all the damn time, so this excuse is not going to cut it.

Given the unreliability of the MRT these days, you might want to take a GrabCar/Uber to an important interview, or leave the house early enough to avoid the rush hour crowd.

Arriving at an interview the slightest bit late, for any reason other than because your entire family just died in a freak accident, will make you look like a flake.

 

I really need the money

The main reason most Singaporeans work is to put food on the table. But for your own sake, pretend it isn’t true when you go for an interview. You might need the money, but the interviewer mustn’t think that’s the only reason you want the job.

That’s because if the interviewer smells desperation and knows you’ll take the job no matter what, the company will try to shortchange you and offer you as little as they think you’ll accept when it comes time to negotiate salary.

So even if you really, really need the job, play it cool and make it seem like you’ve got other options.

 

How’s the work-life balance at the company?

Most local bosses don’t really want you to have work-life balance. They want work to become your life so they can exploit you.

But even if the company does have good work-life balance policies in place and genuinely cares that their employees not work themselves to death, refrain from asking about work-life balance at an interview.

It makes you sound lazy and uncommitted compared to other eager-beaver applicants who will no doubt act like they’re willing to sacrifice their limbs for the job.

 

I didn’t like my last job or boss

A great many job applicants interview for jobs because they can’t wait to get away from their existing jobs or tyrannical bosses.

But whatever you do, don’t mention your hatred of your job or boss to the interviewer. No matter how true your anecdotes of your unreasonable boss or dysfunctional company might be, the interviewer is going to see it as you trash-talking your employer—and draw the conclusion that this is something you could very well do to his company.

What’s more, by showing you don’t get along with your colleagues and bosses, you’re not demonstrating what assholes they are—in the mind of the interviewer, you are signalling that you are the asshole nobody gets along with.

 

I can’t do OT because I have to pick my kid up from childcare

This is a tricky one. The government has been trying to get companies to stop driving down the birthrate any further with their inflexibility and obsession with face-time.

But still, employers continue to be wary about employing parents of young children who make it seem like their kids are always going to take priority over their jobs.

Of course, if you absolutely need special arrangements like staggered hours, you will at some point have to raise the issue with the company.

But try your best to make it seem like you’re a great, dedicated employee who just happens to have a kid but never lets that get in the way of doing a good job.

Not all employers will be unsympathetic and discriminate against you for being candid about having to leave on time. But some will, and if it’s a job you really want, it might be wise to err on the side of caution

Have you ever made a blunder and said any of the above at a job interview? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.