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When Hiring, Focus on Relevant Job Criteria Rather than Age


Ong, an experienced sales executive in his 40s, came to TAFEP frustrated. He had responded to an advertisement for a tele-sales executive position and was unhappy that over the phone the interviewer was asking him more questions about his age rather than his ability to do the job. Ong felt that the employer’s interest in a job applicant’s age over the candidates’ skills and ability to do the work disadvantaged mature and experienced job seekers. With Ong’s consent, TAFEP approached the employer to find out what had happened.

The employer explained that they had asked Ong’s age to assess if he was physically fit enough to do the work which involved making outdoor sales trips. After discussion with TAFEP, the employer agreed on the value of reviewing their assumptions and using relevant and objective criteria since Singaporeans were not only living longer but also staying fit longer. The employer understood that looking at relevant skills rather than age not only widens the potential pool of candidates but also ensures a better job fit.