'I seriously think our future is f*****': Employer flamed for 'going nuclear' on prospective intern over a question

PHOTO: Screengrab from Facebook/Jeffrey Koh, Pexels

Talk about generational differences in the workplace. Except in this case, the employee hadn't even gotten the job yet.

Jeffrey Koh, the owner of a design agency, took to Facebook on Thursday (Sept 15) to complain about an interviewee whom he was supposed to meet regarding her internship.

He wrote, "Call me a boomer but I seriously think our future is f*****."

Koh went on to share how he had "taken the time" to interview the student the next day, despite knowing that she had quit her first company after a day.

"Gave her the benefit of the doubt because she actually left her internship company after working for just one day, claiming that the environment was toxic and is now looking for a new internship company."

Koh, however, noted that 19 minutes after agreeing to the interview, she dropped him a message asking if it was "possible to have a virtual meeting instead".

He added: "Without giving any reason, she probably figured a virtual meeting works fine too".

A screengrab of their text conversation showed that five minutes after her request, Koh replied, "Don't think so. It's ok if you don't wanna come down".

He ended up cancelling the interview entirely three minutes later. "On second thought, I think let's cancel the interview. All the best".

Explaining his actions, Koh shared in his Facebook post: "Sarah is the very reason why I absolutely welcome foreigners who are hungry and hardworking to work here. F*** all these rules and laws protecting entitled Singaporeans."

But not everyone agreed with his position. 

Many wondered — what's wrong with simply asking for an online interview? Especially in a world impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

PHOTO: Screengrab from Facebook/Jeffrey Koh

"She politely asked for a virtual interview. You should at least explain to her that you only do face-to-face instead of shaming her online and she should state why she needs to do [it] virtually. Boss, this part you wrong already," wrote one commenter.

Others slammed Koh for being "petty" and reacting unprofessionally, urging him to move with the times.

PHOTO: Screengrab from Facebook/Jeffrey Koh

Some said, however, that it was a good thing the interview didn't happen.

"Thanks for helping her dodge a bullet there. That bullet is you," wrote one.

PHOTO: Screengrab from Facebook/Jeffrey Koh

To comments that Koh had overreacted and assumed the worst of the interviewee, he replied:

"If I'd jumped to conclusions like what some geniuses are saying, why would I even bother wasting my time asking her to come in for a chat?"

'Not just one Sarah but a whole generation or two of them': Koh

When contacted by AsiaOne, Koh, 49, explained that his reason for wanting to meet interviewees in person is so that he can assess them "based on nuances and body language".

Providing some background to the incident, he added that the prospective intern had emailed him "sometime in June" about her official internship period which was starting on Sept 12.

"I replied one or two weeks later but received no reply. So I thought she's either not keen or may have found another company."

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On Thursday, however, he received another email from her asking if they were still accepting interns.

"I found it puzzling and called her in the evening. She said the internship company is having some legal issues and she finds the culture toxic and is not for her. I was like 'huh, after one day'?

"Nonetheless, I asked if she wants to come in on Friday for a chat. She said yes and I told her I'll text her my address and 'boomz'."

The design agency boss shared that in the 21 years of running his business, he has seen his "fair share of interns" and this was not an isolated case.

He blamed the pandemic for how many of them are now "absolutely clueless when it comes to soft and hard skills".

"Spoke to lecturers and friends and I think it’s the result of Covid where everything is home-based."

Koh maintained that even after the online fracas over his comments, his views on the issue have not changed.

"It's about being professional. Being hungry when you're given the chance and appreciating how lucky they are with the schools and lecturers helping them," said Koh.

"It's sad and frustrating because it’s not just one Sarah but a whole generation or two of them."

He added: "That's the reason why I refuse to hide the post before s*** hit the fan, in spite of the advice of some kind strangers."

Koh has also found support in some camps, with several sharing similar sentiments.

PHOTO: Screengrab from Facebook/Jeffrey Koh

One commenter stated how the prospective employee bailed on the first interview three hours beforehand, and didn't even show up for the second one.

PHOTO: Screengrab from Facebook/Jeffrey Koh

'Boomer' bosses and young employees

Differences in perspectives between so-called 'boomer' bosses and young jobseekers or employees have come under scrutiny on social media in recent times.

An Instagram story posted by entrepreneur Tjin Lee went viral in August, after she complained about how it's "increasingly hard to find motivated young people to work".

Her claims sparked a debate on social media, with many calling her thoughts "old-fashioned" and "boomer".

A Singaporean business owner was similarly flamed two years ago after openly querying, "Are we raising our generation to be adult babies?"

He shared how of the 12 local graduate job seekers he had interviewed over the past week, "none of them [were] hungry for a job".