Interviews abroad - how to get that international job.

The interview is undeniably the most crucial part of your job search. You should fit your target organization's 'ideal profile', understand and share the vision of the organization and be motivated to live and work in unfamiliar environments. The cost of sending an employee overseas is high and candidates must be honest about their capabilities. In preparation for the interview, conduct a 'profile analysis' to match your skills to those required by the organization.

The Interview Panel
International placement interviews generally have three people: a HR manager, an international manager or liaison officer and one senior manager. It is acceptable practice to inquire ahead as to who will be conducting the interview along with its format.

Length of the Interview
Although the formal interview begins when you personally meet the recruiting team, remember that you are being assessed from your first telephone call. While some interviews last all day, NGO's and government agencies usually have hour-long interviews conducted by three-person teams. Second interviews are common practice.

Interview Styles
To be successful, candidates must recognize the various types of interviews and react appropriately. It is essential to know when to take the lead and when to stay quiet.

The Structured Interview
Government placements are regularly conducted in this format. The selection is based purely on educational qualifications and previous work experience and candidates are judged on the basis of points which are evaluated by a rating guide. The three basic areas candidates are judged on are:

  • Knowledge
  • Ability
  • Personal suitability

Quite often there will be a Statement of Qualifications which states the job requirements which you should study and adapt to your interview.

The Informal Interview
This is the most common interview style and lets the candidate to be more involved in the interview. Remember to use this opportunity to your advantage and display your strengths. Even though it is informal meeting, do not try to control or lead the interview and never become too familiar or friendly. The interviewer is judging you the entire time and you need to remain professional and focused.

Information that Employers need to establish

  • Any limiting conditions such as health and family requirements.
  • A realistic understanding of international living and working conditions.
  • Technical and soft skills such as ability to work with different nationalities.
  • Ability to fulfill the contract terms and show loyalty to the organization, even when facing pressures.
  • In addition, be prepared to be probed about your family and personal life.

International recruiters place special emphasis on determining character of potential employees. Often there is greater emphasis placed on character assessment than technical knowledge. Working well in a team is an important part of any overseas position.

It is imperative to collect your thoughts before calling potential employers. Remember to attune your experiences and skills so that they match the international position. It is important to seriously consider the negative qualities of living and working overseas and balance them against the job.