Hiring right in Singapore

Singapore Business Review
Published: 12 June 15
By Ronald Lee, Managing Director, PrimeStaff Management Services


Hiring the best talent is more crucial than ever, especially in today’s economy and in Singapore’s tight labour market. The country’s unemployment rate for citizens stood at 2.6 percent as of March, according to figures by the Ministry of Manpower.

Given the urgency to fill a role, organisations may be tempted to quickly settle for a “good enough” fit. But companies simply cannot afford to lose time and money, along with the missed opportunities that come from a bad hire. While statistics may differ, the cost of hiring the wrong individual simply cannot be overstated.

Worse still, if your new hire quits within three months and you have to repeat the whole recruitment and onboarding cycle all over again. You can avoid squandering precious resources on multiple recruitment drives for the same role with this essential guideline that every recruiter should adopt in the hiring game.

1. Get clarity

Before starting the hiring process, you need to get clear on the key requirements of the role that is to be filled. This may seem obvious, but all too often hiring managers lack clarity on the precise skills, knowledge, and attributes required to perform successfully on the job – and thus fail to communicate them effectively in the job advertisement or to the candidate during the interview.

Detail the exact requirements in the job advertisement and resist the temptation to oversell the position, as you will end up wasting precious time sifting through the underqualified applicants.

2. Hire for attitude

Do you tend to hire for aptitude or for attitude? Most organisations usually lean towards the former and while the relevant skillset is certainly a prerequisite, I contend that a candidate’s attitude is just as – if not more – important than their skills and experience. I always believe that skills can be taught but the right attitude can take a lifetime to shape.

According to research by Leadership IQ, 46% of new hires failed within 18 months on the job. And 89% of the time, the cause of the failure was due to attitudinal reasons whereas only 11% failed because of a lack of skills.

Some of the common attitudinal deficits include lack of coachability and low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament. Therefore, when hiring, these are some of the attributes you should look out for.

The ideal candidate should not only have the required skillset but also possess qualities that will enable him/her to fit into the culture of your company. Look for candidates with a positive, confident, and can-do attitude; those who are eager to learn and grow and are willing to take on more responsibility.

Do also check for compatibility: will the candidate be able to get along with colleagues, clients, and business partners? Some people are disagreeable by nature or just don’t play well with others. Such people will be toxic to your team, so make sure you weed them out early on in the selection process.

Additionally, you would want on your team problem-solvers who will rise to the challenge in tough situations as well as those who display a strong sense of commitment. Is the candidate serious about working for the long term or does it seem like he/she is the sort who’s always on the lookout for something better? Take a look at the candidate’s history of past jobs and duration in each for insight into his/her relationship with commitment.

3. Ask the right questions

Too many interviewers make the common mistake of talking too much during the interview. As a result, they end up collecting only a little bit of information about the candidate.

You should not be afraid to ask difficult questions, and be sure to give the interviewee enough time to answer. For example, ask them who their last manager was and what he/she would say if you called them right now. This is a challenging question that is likely to get an honest answer.

I also strongly recommend finding out why they left their previous job as the reasons can reveal a lot about their character, work ethic, and priorities.

4. Test-drive applicants

I encourage you to test-drive applicants before hiring them permanently although realistically, trying out candidates before deciding on whom to hire may not be possible for all roles.

Trial arrangements such as temp-to-permanent, contract-to-hire, or working interviews provide both employer and potential employee the opportunity to see if there’s a good fit.

Often, there are situations in which the candidate doesn’t perform well during the interview but once on the job, they’re a rock star. Conversely, a candidate may ace the interview but when they’re put to work, their performance just isn’t up to scratch.

Try asking your candidate to demonstrate the required skill during the interview. For example, if the position is that of a florist, have the candidate put together a bouquet on the spot. If, however, the skillset for the role is less hands-on, give the candidate hypothetical scenarios or case studies to attempt.

Requesting for references or asking to view their portfolios is another common approach that may be used to verify their credentials.

5. Conduct background checks

Don’t neglect this very important step and never hire someone before checking their references and doing a comprehensive Google or social media search on them. Your new hire will be a representation of your business or brand, so invest some time to speak with his/her former supervisors and listen out for any red flags in what they say.

It will require more time but it can save you a headache later on as well as additional recruitment costs to find a replacement if your new hire quits after a few months into the job.

So don’t rush the process; include these five tips in your hiring strategy and you’ll enhance your chances of securing the best talents in the market.

Important Notice (click to view)

Please be aware that PrimeStaff DO NOT operate any branch in India. Any job offer from a “PRIME STAFF” in India has nothing to do with us.
Please also note that all legitimate emails from PrimeStaff will have “primestaff.com.sg” as the email domain.
For example, xxx@primestaff.com.sg.

We want to reiterate that we DO NOT collect any fee from our applicants.