5 Questions to Ask Before Interviewing in a New Country

Job interviews can be stressful. When you are interviewing in a new country, it can create more tension than usual. Besides needing to make a good impression, you must also consider the cultural differences you will face.

The key to a successful interview is being prepared. Each global region has its own particular style of interviewing practices. So, what should you do when you don’t know what you don’t know on interviewing practices in your new country? First, ask your IMPACT Group Career Coach for tips and utilise interviewing tools with your Coach as additional training. This will prepare you to show your skills and, as a foreigner, cultural and language competency.

Then, research these 5 questions to know what to expect during the interview.

1. What is considered proper dress? “Always look your best.” “Dress more professionally than you would if you were on the job.” This is common advice. However, interviewers in some countries may find a highly formal style of dress pretentious. Yet, in other countries, the better your clothes, the more impressed the interviewer is with you. Be sure to ask about cultural norms in your country to best determine what to wear.

2. What is proper etiquette? Interviewers in most countries will expect a certain level of formality during the interview, while in others – South American countries, for instance – appreciate a friendlier, personal atmosphere. Make sure you know the proper way to address the interviewer. This includes the proper way to greet the individual for the first time. Should you bow or shake hands or simply nod? Find the answer to this question to avoid a faux pas at the start of the interview.

3. What will the mood and pace of the interview be? Both of these things will vary from country to country. Interviews in the Asia Pacific region tend to be more formal. While it is never a time for frivolity, you may find the atmosphere of the interview room relaxed and friendly in some European and South American countries. Ask professional connections and acquaintances for insights to best prepare for the interview style.

4. What is your part in the interview? You might come from a country where the idea of “selling” yourself during your interview is standard practice. However, be aware that in some countries this is considered pretentious. At times, it is best to be attentive and only answer questions succinctly when asked. If you are invited to ask questions of the interviewer, it may be expected that you keep your questions open ended and general, rather than direct. Make a list of appropriate questions to ask and practise asking them before the interview.

5. What are the local expectations for establishing a good reputation? Every interviewee wants to make a great first impression. It’s worth researching if foreigners are expected to conduct themselves differently than locals. What adjustments do you need to make to your behaviour? What will the interviewer value most when determining if you are a good candidate? The more you understand about how to establish a good reputation in your new country, the easier it will be to prepare for the interview.

If you are still uneasy about going into an interview where the cultural expectations are different than what you are used to, remember to stay relaxed and confident. Always follow the interviewer’s lead on tone and pace of the interview. Handle mistakes with grace and professionalism. In the end, each interview will be a learning experience that helps you best understand the cultural nuances of your new home.

*Remember that generalised information may vary by country and depends on the specific situation of each individual.