Friday, April 26, 2013

Me As an Expat Interviewer & Tips On How Not to Bomb Yours

I haven't talked about work in a while, but after the week I've had its only fitting!  In my job I have had the pleasure (or pain) of conducting interviews for a handful of positions.  I cannot count the number of times that my jaw has dropped when scanning applicants online, or post-interviews when I finally have the freedom to make the facial expression in private!  

This week I've been on the hunt for a new "Me" to take over my position (we leave for Greece in a month!).  After scanning the resumes of 300+ applicants and interviewing the select few that have actually shown up to their scheduled interviews, today I finally found The One.  She's perfect, and I, therefore, am an HR genius. ;)  Here are some interview tips (that I had thought were common sense), and I'm pretty sure that they apply to any country/culture: 

When asked to describe your experience with specifics, please do not write See CV or lots.

When scheduling an interview via email, do not ask what the position is {hello, you are the one that applied!} and don't ask how much you will be paid.  Really?!

If you find yourself in a country where its vital to add your photo to your CV, do not put a picture of yourself in a mini skirt and tube top as if you're ready for the disco.

Don't put Taco Bell on your CV if they fired you after one month. 

Don't arrive late and mumble that there was traffic. 

Phone OFF and off the table. 

If asked if you have any questions about the role, do not say that your only question is: 
How much $$$

Don't say that listening to music is the only thing you like to do in your free time.  How on earth can that be your only hobby?!  Be creative!

I also usually ask the interviewee to tell me what their strengths are, and I almost always get a look of confusion or a really, really long Um...  I always thought that this was a question one should always be prepared for, so now I wonder, is this just a very "American" thing to ask? Do they ask this in other places?  Here its also OK to ask very personal questions, like who you live with and if you have kids, but I still find it awkward to ask..

Expats, have you ever had an awkward interview experience abroad?
Do tell!


  1. Seriously people do that stuff!?!?!? Wow.
    And how exciting that you guys are headed to Greece so soon! :)

  2. Strengths and weaknesses are common questions in the UK. Less so personal stuff, generally, which I noticed is far more common here in the USA.

  3. Personal questions are actually inappropriate in Europe in general. Even if they ask if you are married or if you have kids in Spain is illegal, but still some companies ask them. I'm surprised that it's normal in the U.S.!