Excerpted from the Singapore Career Guide
Employers are seeking candidates who display maturity and the ability to handle conflicts and solve problems. Applicants who show how they can add value to the organization reveal to the employer they are serious about the position and are ready to assume responsibilities. Companies based in Singapore have quotas on how many foreign employees they can hire, and the process of applying for proper visa documents for new foreign employees can be complicated. For these reasons, employers put a high priority on hiring foreign candidates who possess hard and soft skills that they cannot find in local candidates. As much as seems suitable, you should emphasize any unique qualities you possess.
The first thing you can do to make a good impression in a Singaporean interview is to arrive on time — early, actually. Allow an extra 15 minutes to get into the building, up the elevator and to the appropriate office. You also may be asked to complete some preliminary forms.
Appearance is very important in Singapore. It is essential to appear clean and well-groomed; dressing conservatively is recommended. It is appropriate for men to wear a long-sleeved shirt, a tie and dark pants to an interview. Men wear suits only when applying for very high-level positions, such as that of a CEO, or when addressing a formal conference. As for women, it is appropriate to wear a suit or a dress to interviews. It also is acceptable to wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants to the interview. Footwear should be closed-toe shoes or pumps.
If you live overseas, it is common to start the interview process over the phone. If the Singaporean company remains interested after the phone interview, the company may fly you in for an in-person interview, paying for airfare as well as accommodations.
Although four languages are spoken in Singapore — English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil — job interviews usually are conducted in English. In very rare cases, however, a job interview may be conducted in Chinese, especially if the position is with a family-run business with traditional Chinese backgrounds.
After the interview, it is a good idea to write a follow-up email or a thank you note to your interviewer. Although it may or may not improve the chances of acceptance, it is a good gesture that is in line with Singaporean culture, in that you would be showing respect for a superior. This could be what sets you apart from the other candidates.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Singapore Guide.