There are so many great job opportunities abroad, and a large part of the work comes before you even find the right position. Combing through job sites can be a full-time job in and of itself, along with perfecting your resume and networking to make sure that your name makes it to the top of the pile.
If you put in the work and find the right fit, you’ll be moved into the interview phase. Interviews for jobs abroad can be different from other job interviews, and it is important to put in a little extra prep work to make sure that you are fully prepared.
People who hire from outside of a host country to fill positions are generally looking for two things: someone who can be successful in the job, and someone who will be comfortable in a foreign culture, and is willing to be pushed outside of their comfort zone. To that end, most interview questions will fall into one of three categories: skills assessment, personality fit/drive, ability to work abroad.
Keep these three categories in mind while you are preparing for the job interview, and look online for practice interviews and sample questions to help you get started (there are some great resources below). Another element of the interview to keep in mind, which is especially important if you are interviewing over the phone or Skype, is small talk.
Why does small talk matter? Let’s face it – phone and video interviews can be a bit awkward. Without visual cues from your interviewer, you can expect to have a few moments where there is either silence, or people start talking at the same time. It’s ok! Most people who conduct business via the Internet experience this, but as the interviewee, there are ways to make the first moments of the phone interview set the stage for a smooth conversation.
First of all, make sure that you know a little bit about the person interviewing you. That way once you get on the phone and say hello, you are also ready to dive into another conversation about the person’s history with the organization, hobbies or anything else that might be appropriate. This is especially important during conference calls – with many people calling in, you might have a few minutes at the beginning to fill before everyone has had a chance to call in.
Another important element of a job interview for an overseas job is knowing as much as possible about your potential host country. Make sure that you have done research, subscribed to relevant blogs and read newspapers from that country, so that you can engage your interviewer in thoughtful discussion about current events. Imagine interviewing someone who wasn’t aware of a recent bank holiday, religious observance or long weekend? Current events can also serve as a resource for small talk topics!
If you’re looking for more resources to prepare for your work abroad job interview, check out these websites to help you with practice questions and tips for success:
- Quint Careers offers some more practical advice, for everything from the international job search to securing the interview. If you have already landed a phone interview and are looking for ways to maximize your effectiveness on a long-distance call, check out their article on phone interview etiquette.
- Working Overseas gives a comprehensive view of all elements of landing the interview, from who your interviewer might be, tactics for answering questions, and examples of “situational” interview questions.
- If you are considering including a recruitment fair in your job search, check out these tips for teach abroad fair interview etiquette at Overseas Digest. While many of the questions are teaching-specific, the information can be easily applied to recruitment fairs of any type!
Finally, the best resource for preparing for job interview is speaking directly with a hiring manager. If you know anyone who has been in charge of a job search, make a point to talk to them about what they were looking for, and candidates who impressed (or didn’t impress) them during their interview. Whether that interview was for a job abroad or not, you gain very useful insight about the interview process from someone who has experienced it from the other side.