S'pore boss cancels internship job interview due to applicant's request for virtual meeting

Reactions were split.

Belmont Lay | September 18, 2022, 11:13 AM

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An employer in Singapore took to Facebook on Sep. 15 to share that he had offered a young woman an internship opportunity, only to rescind it completely in under an hour after she made a request -- which was to meet online for the interview instead of face-to-face in person.

The employer, who posted the anecdote with a screenshot of the conversation he had with the applicant, provided some context to the situation, by writing: "19 mins after agreeing to come down for an interview, without giving any reason, she probably figured that a virtual meeting works fine too."

He said he had given her a chance at his company as the applicant left her previous job after just one day, supposedly due to a "toxic" work environment.

What conversation showed

The text conversation to confirm and then cancel the interview was brief, as it occurred in under an hour over a few texts.

The first message by the employer showed him providing the address where the interview was supposed to take place.

Within 24 minutes, the applicant responded that she will be there.

Request for online interview

However, after another 19 minutes had passed, she followed up with her request: "Hi Jeffrey, is it possible to have a virtual meeting instead?"

Within five minutes of that message, the employer responded: "Don't think so. It's ok if you don't wanna come down."

As there was apparently no response from the applicant, the next message, which came 3 minutes later to call off the interview, read: "On second thoughts, I think let's cancel the interview. All the best."

The caption of the post concluded with the employer's take on the situation: "Sarah is the very reason why I absolutely welcome foreigners who are hungry and hardworking to work here. F*** all these rules and laws protecting entitled Singaporeans."

The post did not say how the applicant took the rejection and if there was any other follow-up replies from her.

Mixed reactions

Reactions to the post were heated and plenty, but they were split among two camps: Those who agreed with the employer, and those who called him out for being toxic and that the applicant had dodged a bullet.

Those who agreed with the employer were of the view that he had taken the first step to offer a job opportunity to a candidate who had a dubious track record, only for the applicant to show that she did not want the job enough to make a trip to the interview location.

The ones who sided with the employer said he was being just as fair for rescinding the offer as he was making it, as he did not owe the prospective candidate a living.

This was so as he was stepping up to give her a chance almost on faith, despite knowing about the circumstances of her leaving her previous role in a haste.

Employer slammed

The ones who disagreed with the employer said his response was disproportionate to the nature of the applicant's request, and that he was blowing things up.

This led to a number of commenters that called out the employer as being just as entitled and toxic, and the reason young applicants joining the workforce are better off elsewhere where managers and leaders are more tolerant.

The main argument against the employer was the tone of his response, which more than a few commenters felt lacked empathy and did not come from a place of good faith.

What they thought the employer should have done was show a desire to understand and find out more about the circumstances of the applicant's request, rather than be dismissive about it.

This was so as the applicant could have double-booked herself or an emergency might have cropped up.

Some of those who felt this way were also of the view that the applicant had made a somewhat reasonable request ahead of time, which could have been negotiated with.

The dismissive nature of the employer was also the lightning rod for criticism, which led to name-calling as he was repeatedly referred to as a "boomer", which was an observation about the generational divide between those who have been in the workforce for long and are seen as ossified in their thinking, and those who are just starting out.

This was also meant to say that the employer was out of touch with the new realities of employment, especially as viewed by younger people, in a post-pandemic world that has already demonstrated that working out of the office was a viable alternative.

The comments that took issue with the employer pointed out his overall tact, or lack of, as he had put up the post and complained about how locals do not deserve a job in the midst of competition from foreigners who are showing more drive and fire in the belly.

This also led to some who compared the downsides of working for local businesses as compared to multi-national corporations, which are seen as more tolerant, people-centric, and with bosses who do not micromanage as much.


Top photo via employer & Google Maps