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How to win at interviews, even if English isn't your first language

Blog post   •   Mar 12, 2018 08:21 +08

Each week until April 30, 2018, we are shortlisting a local corporate figure who has demonstrated excellence in a media appearance, in the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2018.

Many local senior business leaders are shy about appearing in the media on account of the fact that English is not their mother tongue.

But our shortlisted candidate for the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2018 shows why this should not be an obstacle.

Jack Chua, CEO of APAC Realty appeared on CNBC last week, discussing whether higher property-related taxes and charges will affect Singapore's real estate market.

Despite being probed very specifically by my former co-anchor Martin Soong, Chua remained calm and cheerful, and in the space of four minutes reassured viewers with substantive answers.

We have shortlisted Chua for Best Interview for TV in the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2018Here's why:


We launched the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards to recognise local business leaders for their communications skills, and to showcase authentic and credible home-grown communicators. Here are our previous nominees:

Desmond Kuek: Will you resign?

Are you a demanding boss, Lee Lik Hsin?

Star Alliance CEO: Local business leader is a star media performer

Budget 2018: Iswaran balances selling it, and explaining it

Kurt Wee: you don't need to be big to be media savvy

Candice Ong: the whys and hows of strong new media interviews

Elim Chew displays a high Sensitivity Quotient in her TEDxNTU presentation

These are shining examples for other local business leaders to follow, and to build a culture of excellence in communication, to maximise the potential of Asian companies in the Asian Century.

Each week until April 30, 2018, we are shortlisting a local corporate figure who has demonstrated excellence in a media appearance for the Hong Bao Media Savvy Awards 2018.

Click on this link to enter yourself or another Senior Business Leader.


  1. Data/statistics - Chua runs through the key numbers without hesitation. Right at the beginning of the interview, he explains the local context and emphasises the difference between new and resale units. There is obviously a risk of getting too far down "into the weeds", but Chua cannot be faulted for a lack of substantiation of his point, and showcasing his grasp on issues such as commissions, and the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). Chua demonstrates he knows what he is talking about, and obviously did his homework.
  2. Flagging - Chua highlighted specific issues by counting them down. Good structure to achieve clarity. In the absence of a clear headline message, he left us in no doubt that he knew what he was talking about.
  3. Dealing with the outlier - The show's Guest Host Tony Nash chimed in with a question about the global interest rate environment. It can be unsettling to respond to questions from different interviewers. Chua was unfazed and again showcased his grasp of the situation.
  4. Measured delivery - Chua's measured delivery and slight pauses at strategic moments indicated he cared whether he was being understood.
  5. Facial expression and demeanour - What came across very strongly throughout was that Chua was actually enjoying the interview! It's difficult not to like Chua for his unwavering smile and rock-solid eye contact.

No local business leader should feel at a disadvantage for not having the Queen's command of English. As Chua shows, an accent has no bearing on whether you can demonstrate your expertise and come out a winner.