Commentary: The controversy over a S$6.50 tab for coffee during a job interview

Commentary: The controversy over a S$6.50 tab for coffee during a job interview

“Surely such interview shenanigans are few and far between,” one might think. 

Actually, they aren’t. From my two decades of experience in human resources and recruitment, there are cautionary tales from both misbehaving interviewers and interviewees.


There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped the job market, resulting in a significant shift towards remote work and Zoom meetings and online job interviews

However, as the world regains a semblance of normalcy and more employees return to the office, in-person job interviews are also increasingly returning to fashion. 

A recent survey of more than 2,000 adults by the American Staffing Association showed that 70 per cent of respondents preferred in-person job interviews, compared with 17 per cent who favoured video interviews and 9 per cent who preferred audio-only calls.

In today’s competitive job market, the coffee incident brings a renewed focus on professional etiquette.

According to advance labour market estimates released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) on Apr 28, total employment – excluding migrant domestic workers – grew by 34,500 in the first quarter of the year, marking the sixth straight quarter of expansion.
It goes without saying that both jobseekers and recruiters should always be professional during and after the interview. As with anything, there’s always a but … 


During the course of my work, I’ve personally observed more than a few unprofessional behaviours that can serve as good learning lessons.