While paper qualifications are important, many companies are increasingly looking out for soft skills in potential hires - such as by getting them to play competitive team games.
Many human-resource and recruitment experts my paper spoke to said they have seen at least 15 per cent more employers using group activities to suss out soft skills among jobseekers, compared to five years ago.
These can range from group discussions to playing team-based games, to find out if job applicants for mid- to high-level positions have attributes like leadership qualities, resourcefulness and the ability to work in a team.
Human-resource consultancy Adecco said that of the companies it helps to place jobseekers in, 30 per cent now request group activities when hiring, compared to 10 per cent five years ago.
Recruitment firm Manpower Singapore said that for employers that hire many job applicants at a time, there has been a 10-20 per cent increase in the use of group screening activities over the last five years.
For RV Manpower, it has received 15 per cent more such requests from employers now, compared to five years ago.
One example of such group activities was a team-based competition to build a model race car, organised yesterday by the South West Community Development Council.
At the event, RV Manpower was one of two recruitment firms, acting on behalf of employers, observing how 50 professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) behaved when they were split into teams to build from scratch the fastest model cars.
In doing so, they were looking to spot soft skills among the jobseekers, such as creativity.
Recruitment experts said employers use such interactive hiring processes together with traditional face-to-face interviews because they value soft skills, besides paper qualifications.
Dr Amy Khor, mayor of South West District, who was speaking on the sidelines of the race-car game, said that such group activities allow PMEs to better showcase these soft qualities, compared to conventional job interviews.
This is because jobseekers might not perform well in interviews due to anxiety, said Dr Khor, who is also Minister of State for Manpower.
Mr Ian Grundy, head of marketing and communications at Adecco Asia (ex-Japan), said that during interviews it can be hard to glean soft skills such as leadership qualities. But it can be easier to do so when observing jobseekers in group activities, he said.
But Mr David Ang, executive director of Singapore Human Resources Institute, said that while more larger companies could be using group-discussion activities when hiring, group-based games are not common yet.
This is because companies "would need to be willing to invest a lot of time, and resources", said Mr Ang.
Ms Andrea Ross, managing director of Robert Walters, said that while she has not seen an increase in employers using interactive games, the use of discussions and presentations in the hiring process is rising.
Jobseeker and insurance agent Sin Mun Yik, 34, said she gets nervous during interviews.
But at yesterday's race-car game, Ms Sin said she was able to show off her soft skills "better than I would have at an interview" because the game was casual and informal.