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

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SINGAPORE: Who should pay for coffee during a job interview

This is not a trick question, nor a brainteaser interview quiz. 

An aggrieved jobseeker recently took to social media to recount an experience he had, sparking an intense discussion about interview etiquette.

The man said he was asked several days after his interview to pay S$6.50 (US$4.80) for a cup of coffee he had during the meeting, after declining a job offer from the interviewer.

“Had I known, I would have paid on the day itself. Now it just seems unprofessional,” he said.

Amid an outpouring of rage on social media, the situation was resolved after a manager from the company reportedly reached out to apologise to the job applicant. The man also got his money back. 

“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 w...

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