The Manila Times – Hiring in the Philippines is a Numbers Game

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by Tina Khoe Ang

Recruitment in the Philippines contains challenges not found anywhere else.

For one, prepare for interview no-shows.

Applicants have become increasingly careful about wasting their time, effort, and money when seeking work. Spending on pre-employment requirements such as medical checkups and NBI clearance, and commuting to an unfamiliar location for an interview that has no guarantee of a job offer deter many applicants from showing up. Consequently, Filipino recruiters should consider no-shows when scheduling interviews. The fact is, not all who confirm to attend the interview will show up.

For example, when we recruited for an administrative assistant position, we received 300 applicants. As we scoured through resumes, we were disappointed that many didn’t seem to read the job ad, and had applied without much thought. Many would ask about the pay, even though it was clearly stated in the ad.

After scouring through 100 resumes, we invited 30 people for an interview. Out of the 30, only 10 showed up. Out of the 10, only two were qualified. This translates to a not-so-good ratio of 2 to 5 percent hiring rate. What’s worse, some showed up on the first day or week, but after getting their first pay, wouldn’t show up anymore.

That’s why recruiting locally requires a strong mental mindset. Don’t count the number of applications you’ve received. Instead, only get excited when your applicant actually attends the interview, and the orientation and starts working for you. Lasting a few months is a bonus!

A good interviewer must be a human lie detector test, capable of discovering white lies peppered during the interview. Do not base your assessment simply on what they said. When you ask questions, don’t just listen to their answers. Instead, follow the logic of their answers. If something doesn’t make sense, ask specific follow-up questions to find the truth.

Do sufficient background checks to determine whether submitted documents or credentials are authentic. One applicant said she was in charge of the entire inventory of a condiments company. She bragged that upon seeing that the stocks were a mess, she organized an entire system that improved efficiency and minimized wastage. When she started, we noticed she was not good at listening to instructions, and would make many novice mistakes. Inventory staff are usually trained to be detail-oriented, logical, and very organized, qualities she possessed little of.

A call to her previous employer showed how much she lied in her interview and padded her resume. Instead of being the head of the inventory at the condiments company, the applicant only served as a part-time employee. At most, she served the role of an encoder, nowhere in the managerial role she bragged about.

Beyond hiring, make retention a priority. Since it’s too troublesome to hire employees in the Philippines, the best offense is the best defense: Protect your turf and value the employees who choose to work for you more. Create a working environment that people can treat as their second home, and hire like-minded people who seamlessly fit in your ecosystem.

Do the “bag” test—Develop a workplace where you can leave your bag open, and no money gets lost. Prioritize honesty in the workplace. When people work in a place of transparency and trust, they feel more comfortable on focusing on producing, instead of always looking over their shoulders. Create a work environment that people want to join in. Hire people who fit your culture, not only for their technical skills or attitude.

Be mindful of minimizing politicking and chismisan (gossiping) in the workplace. Listen to the little guys. Truth be told, beyond compensation, people leave because of toxic environments and bosses who don’t seem to care. Departing employees can be very expensive. It costs to hire, train, and deploy new employees, only to start all over again when they don’t stay.

Remember, hiring in the Philippines is a numbers game. The more you interview, the more likely you can find your ideal applicant. The more you go through the hiring process, the better you should get at it. Hone your skills to assess candidates better and to quickly disregard people who don’t fit. You learn a lot as you recruit. Don’t waste the opportunity to get better.

Yes, hiring in the Philippines can be painful, yet educational. With some love, care, and patience, you can find a diamond in the rough that would help you do your business if you know how to play the game right.

Tina Khoe Ang is a retail entrepreneur, managing 29 branches in Metro Manila, and a master franchisor of an American frozen treat brand. She is a moderator at the Philippines HR Group on Facebook, and a co-host at The HR Cafe: Usapang Trabaho, Buhay, Atbp webshow every Sunday at 3 p.m. You can read her blog at

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