A View from the Top: Timothy Cheong, AVP of Group Human Resources, Banyan Tree

 By Lisa Cheong

What is one trait you look for in interview candidates?

Besides work competencies, I look for candidates who are enthusiastic and display a “can-do” attitude during interviews.


How can candidates impress you during interviews?

Candidates can impress me by showing me an enthusiastic and a “can-do” attitude. Candidates should provide examples of how these two traits have been translated into action and proven results. However, these results do not have to be limited to a corporate setting. Candidates can talk about how they displayed these traits in their school’s extra-curricular activities or in their social activities.


One interview mistake candidates often make?

One mistake I see candidates often making is in trying to over-impress the interviewer. They do this by giving a lot of philosophical answers but not talking about their work results. Often, they talk about their positive traits but not enough about their flaws. There has to be a balance. Everyone has flaws – I am interested in seeing whether candidates admit to them and are willing to learn from them.


Best career advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received and given is to be willing to take on new challenges. Do not be too comfortable with your position. Only through new challenges will you find out new things about yourself and learn from the experience.


What is the biggest work challenge any employee can face?

The biggest challenge I think employees can face is having to deal with an unsupportive boss. While you should perform to the best of your ability in your role, you have to make an eventual choice about whether you want to stay or leave. If you do not see eye to eye with your boss, it may not work out in the long run.


How can employees improve their productivity at work?

Learn to prioritise your responsibilities. Carry out your core duties and responsibilities well. However, you should also learn from other functions when you are given the opportunity. By your willingness to learn another person’s job, you will realise that you can go beyond your job scope. Not only will this improve your work productivity, it will also enhance your career prospects.


For candidates who have unemployment gaps, how should they explain this during an interview?

Speak the truth and nothing but the truth! Don’t hide anything from employers, because while you might get away with it initially, the truth will be revealed over the course of questioning or reference checks. So why bother hiding it?


What is one misconception that candidates have about your industry?

Premium hotels have a glamourous image. Behind the glitz and glamour, Banyan Tree is still a hospitality business that requires plenty of preparation and hard work. We are also process orientated. We want to please the customer and make their stay with us delightful.

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