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I've been invited for an all expenses covered out of town interview from Singapore to one of the states in Australia. I'm wondering if it is common practice for candidates to bring some of their local delicacies as a symbol of gratitude to the interviewers?

While I understand that it is a professional interview (it is my final round with this MNC) , I would like to show some form of gratitude to them for this opportunity (after all, they did just spend a few thousand dollars flying me over just for a half day interview).

Update:

I heeded the advice of fellow stackexchangers and did not bring any food over for the interview. But I'll be bringing some of them over (Packaged, processed and with sensible contents) on my first day since I've accepted the job offer. Thanks everyone!

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    You can’t bring food to Australia – the foreigner May 29 at 14:16
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    @theforeigner not all food is prohibited, some categories are allowed but may need to be declared (and you will either be allowed take them with you when you enter the country or not) - For a practical overview see abf.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/can-you-bring-it-in/… – HBruijn May 29 at 14:26
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    “they did just spend a few thousand dollars flying me over just for a half day interview” — they did not do this out of generosity. They are a business. They did it because they think they will make that money back, and much more, if they hire you. – Paul D. Waite May 29 at 22:47
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    Australia is not very tolerant of corruption, even the perception of corruption. Most states have an Independent Commission Against Corruption (icac.nsw.gov.au/about-corruption) and most Employee handbooks will tell you that $5 is the perceived limit. As others have stated, once you land the position bring food then is a great idea (after checking you are allowed to bring it into Australia) – Bae May 30 at 3:22
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    @insidein: isn't "processed food"... food? – Taladris May 30 at 8:07

10 Answers 10

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I'd suggest, take the safe route, don't bring any gifts now, the intention may be misinterpreted.

If you bag the offer, you'll have plenty of opportunity later to share some of your local delicacies with the team.

I would like to show some form of gratitude to them for this opportunity

Show them gratitude in another way, make sure you are prepared enough for the final interview and the time and money company invested in hiring you ends up having a positive outcome. Win-Win for both parties!!

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    I would add that bringing food as gratitude may be quite culturally dependent and the strong idea of it comes from your own cultural "bias".While usually everyone in an international company greatly enjoys the exchange of cultural thoughts, food and so on, in an interview I think it is better to be seen as someone who can "well adapt" to the local culture. The essence is the same: if, do it later. But also to rather increase your chance of getting accepted. – Mayou36 May 30 at 8:10
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    Exactly my thoughts, if I spent thousands on flying a candidate out to interview, the best way they could show their thanks would be to demonstrate that they are a great candidate. That says "money well spent" to me :-). – DoctorPenguin May 30 at 14:13
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after all, they did just spend a few thousand dollars flying me over just for a half day interview

They inviting you (and paying for the trip) isn't a gift. It one of the costs of hiring, which are part of the costs they pay so that they make more money from their workforce.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't be thankful for the opportunity to interview with them, thankful if they offer you the job, etc., it just means that you should understand this process, and your employment with them, as part of a business relationship.

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    What you could be thankful for, and would be sure to be perceived correctly, would be to bring thoses gifts on the first day / week of the job, once you are indeed hired. Before being hired, all they are doing is following the process, they estimated you were worth paying for the trip to see you, you are not indebted in any way over this, and it is not a gift. – DrakaSAN May 30 at 8:13
  • @DrakaSAN Or maybe even later on, once you've got to know the team better. At least to me (in the U.S.,) showing up with it the first day/week might be perceived as a little weird (though not necessarily problematic, as in the interview stage,) but it would be totally normally (and, in fact, happens frequently) from team members who have been around a while. This would also give you a chance to get to know the company culture surrounding such things a little better before doing it. – reirab May 30 at 23:01
  • "This doesn't mean you shouldn't be thankful for the opportunity to interview with them, thankful if they offer you the job" -> ideally, they should be thankful you've agreed to work for them as well :) – JonathanReez May 31 at 4:05
  • @reirab I'm interested in how is that perceived as weird. Not from the US, but in western europe, bringing pastries for the team in the first week was always well received as long as you don t overdo it and do not insist on it (Come into office with a bag of pastries, put the bag in a "neutral" place, announce that anybody can help themselves, what you brought, take one for yourself to show it's okay, and go to your desk, peoples will usually thank you when passing by or later in the day) – DrakaSAN May 31 at 12:38
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It is not common practice as far as I am aware. If you want to show gratitude for the opportunity make it a point to thank them in person both before and after the interview and let them know how much you appreciate their gesture. The key is doing so in person first and not waiting until you are back home to thank them via email.

If you absolutely want to give some sort of gift ( which I would not recommend ) you just need to make sure that the gift is small/insignificant enough that it will not be considered some sort of bribe towards landing the position.

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    it will not be considered some sort of bribe and as this is hard to judge, taking the risk just isn't worth it. – Jay Gould May 29 at 14:11
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    Actually it is a consumable food item (not even alcohol, let alone expensive electronics or items that have monetary value/resale value). There is no way this can be a bribe. The OP could very easily say, I thought to share some local delicacies from back home. The OP doesn't HAVE to but they could. – perennial_noob May 29 at 22:37
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    Anything like that would be considered an attempt at a bribe in the US. Gifts from people who could benefit from your decisions are never OK. – user90842 May 29 at 22:47
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    "Bribe" is a strong word, but in many cultures there is an implicit assumption that if you give somebody a gift, they are morally obliged to give you an equal or bigger gift in return, and to take the gift with no intention of reciprocating is simply "theft". – alephzero May 30 at 20:04
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    Hm, I think that some members of some cultures should open up, be friendlier, and not use their place of origin as an excuse for telling others off : ) What I mean is, you'll find people with both views anywhere; adopting the friendlier one (that it is a nice gesture and not a bribe that would condemn the candidate) is the humane thing to do. [PS: A bribe??] – Helen Jun 1 at 15:22
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This is going to be a difficult and fairly opinion-based question to answer. Some people may receive your treats as a sign of gratitude, others may assume you're trying to bribe them or influence their decision. It's certainly not typical for candidates to bring gifts in interviews I've done, even when the employer is paying significant travel costs.

Which would be worse, doing something unconventional and having it cause a problem, or sticking to the norms and not risking it? When it comes to interviews, you want to focus on getting the job because you're the right candidate - you want to stand out in ways that are meaningful to the employer's goals. Standing out in gimmicky ways or unexpected (and potentially irrelevant) ways can run the risk of being perceived negatively. In terms of unconventional ideas like bringing treats, the best approach is almost always a conservative approach - stick to the norms, don't bring gifts.

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    When it comes to interviews, the best approach is almost always a conservative approach That's not how you land a job. You land a job by standing out (in the right way). – employee-X May 30 at 18:13
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    I would agree with what you're saying, and I think you're misinterpreting what I wrote. I will edit to clarify. – dwizum May 30 at 19:05
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It's not common to bring food to interviews in Australia, though I do know of some people who have brought food items to interviews (if they are interviewing with a company of less than 20 employees).

The biggest issue you are likely to face however is bio-security restrictions, both on entering Australia and on entering the State the interview takes place. As an example, Tasmania is much more restrictive than the mainland States and typically only allows commercially prepared foodstuff through.

If you want to go ahead with preparing food for the interview, then I recommend these guidelines:

  1. Prepare it once you are in the State;
  2. Consider something easy and not messy to eat i.e. small cakes, biscuits, etc;
  3. Interviews around 10am to 11am or 2:30pm to 3:30pm are ideal time periods to bring food;
  4. Avoid strong-smelling foods;
  5. Refusal of the food by the interviewers does not indicate offence at the offer;
  6. Avoid common allergens, e.g. nuts (these don't have to be consumed in order to cause an allergic reaction);

What matters most though is your interpersonal skills, how you interact with the person you meet on your arrival at the interview and how you react to the unexpected (such as delays).

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You can't be sure if everyone will like what you offer, and it might cause an awkward situation if one of the interviewers is allergic to something or unwilling to eat sugar or gluten, for example.

  • That can be easily addressed by labeling ingredients. – perennial_noob May 29 at 22:31
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    They still might not like it or might even get sick. That would make for bad memories of OP for them. – bob May 29 at 22:54
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    Plus even if they know the ingredients, if they're allergic to one of them, it's still awkward. Imagine: candidate: "Here's a peanut-based delicacy from my country". Interviewer: "Thanks, I really wish I could try that, it looks delicious, but I'm allergic to peanuts.". Followed by awkward silence, apologies, or just the OP worrying that they upset the interviewer. Opportunities for awkwardness abound. So this is a great answer. – bob May 30 at 0:02
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    Sugar, gluten, eggs, meats, shellfish, cheese, nuts, dairy, carbs, fats... in the West it seems half of everyone doesn't eat something or other. This is in stark contrast to Asia where you wouldn't have to even think about serving a stranger pork, peanuts, prawns, and eggs all in one dish. Even the concept of someone not being able to eat such a dish is so foreign in some parts of Asia that people are sometimes even incapable of believing it. – J... May 30 at 13:39
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    Try bringing Durian, for some added fun. – Federico Poloni May 30 at 16:30
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It would probably work against you.

I used to have this problem a lot when I was working for a large US computer company with offices in Australia whose Asia Pacific office was Singapore and we also handled Greater China.

Asians, particularly Chinese had a tendency to provide gifts for all sorts of things which were very hard to refuse. The problem was that this put me in a horribly uncomfortable position of being obliged to refuse - which would insult the gift giver. Or accepting the gift which would bring me into difficulties with management and would leave me feeling under an obligation to the gift giver.

I generally avoided contact with anyone who put me in such a position as much as possible thereafter.

Its sort of like the girl who asks you on a date who you refuse, but then have to see again. Awkward.

Just say thank you to them for their effort. This will suffice.

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In my part of the US the standard practice is to send a thank you card to the interviewers, thanking them for the opportunity to talk to them, and possibly mentioning something memorable in the interview. This makes you stand out without taking the chance of impropriety. If you have a card with you, you can write the card, address the envelope and mail it immediately after the interview.

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Do it.

But make sure that you get sealed items and not something that your mother/wife prepared.

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    Although I agree with the safe option that most answers talked about, I disagree that it is a bribe. It is a food item as the OP clearly says. It is not alcoholic. So to add to what @SandraK says, if you would like to, just give it to the recruiter/HR and say that they could offer it to the team. The money value is far to small for it to be considered a bribe even. – perennial_noob May 29 at 22:34
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    Please support your recommendation with evidence or (more likely, in this case) experience. Without such support, this answer's no better than one that might suggest doing exactly the opposite. – V2Blast May 30 at 5:26
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Not for you. The problem is the top comment in OP is widely believed (obvious from its upvotes). "You can't bring food into Australia". Some people will have that reaction - "how dumb is he" / "doesn't know our laws" /"snuck that through Customs?" and gossip about it.

Then there's the problem of taste: there are "standard" foods to bring and that's what people expect. If you come to the US it would be donuts or a pastry plate; maybe carrots, celery and dip. And sensitivity toward diabetics and gluten-allergic is starting to come up. If you bring sweet meats, most people won't touch it because it's not the normal, then they worry about your impression of them etc. Awkward.

Besides, bringing food is what a host is expected to do, and it's an ingratiation, so the bringer gets something out of it. People can be a bit greedy about that. You are being greedy about it too.

It's also not great for your brand. You end up being the "sweet meats" guy or whatever, instead of being the guy who aced the tests.

protected by mcknz Jun 1 at 14:59

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