SINGAPORE: A job seeker recently shared on social media her unsettling job interview experience. She became flustered when the interviewer unexpectedly asked her to converse in Mandarin, a language she wasn’t fully proficient in.

“Went for a job interview where apparently I was supposed to speak in very fluent Mandarin and the whole interview was to be in Mandarin. Nowhere in the job posting did it state anything about this language requirement,” the job seeker wrote on r/askSingapore on Friday (April 26).

“They did not inform me either via text/email which they were doing to schedule the interview.”

The situation became more uncomfortable when the interviewer expressed surprise at her inability to speak Chinese or Hokkien, given her Singaporean background. 

“[They] started to insult my language abilities and were overall just rude,” she recounted.

Although she could speak Mandarin to some extent, she clarified that it wasn’t at a professional level suitable for discussing her job experience or engaging in complex conversations.

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“[I] asked the person who shortlisted me about it, and apparently it goes against TAFEP guidelines on the job portal, so they just used “fluency in English is an advantage”.”

Moreover, she found it particularly intriguing that the company seemed to have origins outside of China or Singapore.

This led her to question the rationale behind the Mandarin language requirement, especially since the contact person was from Indonesia, where Mandarin might not be as commonly used or necessary in business interactions.

“Just call them out, this is Singapore. English should be lingua franca”

Singaporean Redditors were quite vocal in criticizing the company for omitting the language requirement from their online job postings. 

They strongly believed that the company should have clearly stated all requirements, including language skills, to prevent confusion and ensure the hiring process was fair for everyone.

One Redditor expressed:

“If it’s so damn important for the role or business but yet they saw fit to no include it as a requirement so they can skirt around TAFEP guidelines, it begs the question of their integrity and or, foresight and business decision making.

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I’d report them to TAFEP as well just to protect other jobseekers.”

Another commented:

“I would say you dodged a bullet there. Imagine if you started working there, your mental health would just go down the gutters. Ask yourself, do you actually want to work in a company that has no respect and is so condescending?

You’ll find better.”

Some Redditors also shared similar experiences where language requirements were unexpectedly demanded during interviews. 

One Redditor recalled: “That happened to me before, an obviously Chinese company demanding me to speak Chinese during the interview when it was not indicated in the JD.

I basically told them it’s not reflected in the JD so how are we to proceed this? The interviewer became quiet and we ended the call shortly after.

Just call them out, this is Singapore. English should be lingua franca.”

Another shared: “Recently went to a startup for interview .CTO was Chinese national, doesn’t speak a word of English. Same they didn’t mention fluency in Mandarin is mandatory. I couldn’t understand what the CTO asked and totally bombed the interview. Ya it sucks….”

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A few others advised the job seeker to save her time and start looking for companies with a much better working environment and corporate culture.

Read related: “SG manager tried to make me feel inadequate during hiring process” — Woman shares her job interview experience