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How to succeed at international job interviews

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A combination of globalisation and modern technology has made it easier than ever to find a job in another country. This is particularly true in Ireland where we have seen both emigration due to recession and immigration due to economic growth over the last 15 years. Whether you’re thinking about moving back home or you’re looking at opportunities overseas, the interview will always be the biggest challenge in the international recruitment process.

So if you are preparing to interview for a job in another country, how do you give yourself the biggest chance of success?

Don’t do it on a whim

Taking on a job overseas means travel, upheaval, new schools, new home and a brand new version of ‘normal’. Make sure you’re ready for all of that before you engage in an international job search. It has to be the perfect place or the perfect job or it probably isn’t worth it.

Do Travel, but only when you have to

Speaking of upheaval – be mindful of the potential travel demands of an interview in another country. Most of us have had to take a sick day or fake a meeting to meet another company. Imagine having to explain three or four days of absence for an overseas interview. Most hiring managers will want to meet you in person before confirming your appointment but there are more than enough online, phone, and video options available for early stage interviews.

Don’t do a remote interview ‘anywhere’

Whichever method you end up using, there are a few key factors you need to check. Make sure you have a strong internet connection (minimum 2mbps) or a landline to make sure the connection stays strong throughout. Choose a location that’s quiet and appropriate for the eyes and/or ears of potential employers. Don’t have pets, friends or other distractions in the background. Make sure that you are well-lit for video interviews and check your audio/video/phone equipment is up to scratch. In short, make sure everything else fades into the background and your talent shines through.

Do Prepare as if you’re doing a ‘normal’ interview

Candidates often fall into the trap of thinking that phone or video interviews are different to ‘normal’, face-to-face interviews. The fact is the only difference between phone and face to face interviews is the medium. You will be asked the same questions and the interviewer will expect the same level of preparation and quality as they would if you were right in front of them.

Do take advantage

There are some advantages to doing a job interview via phone or video camera. If your interview is on the phone you get keep handy notes to remind you of that brilliant teamwork example you always forget in face to face interviews. Pre-recorded video interviews on the other hand offer you the chance to choose exactly when you do the interview. Take your time and make sure you’re fully ready before pressing record. The more relaxed and confident you are, the better your answers will sound.

Don’t expect an easy ride

Having said that, don’t expect to use those opportunities in place of real preparation. If you rely heavily on notes in a phone interview it will come through in the sudden appearance of ‘reading voice’ on the line. The same goes for over-preparation – make sure you know what you want to say and are confident saying it but don’t learn by rote. If you do you risk sounding like a robot or Wayne Rooney ‘acting’.

Interviewing for jobs in other countries is becoming a more common occurrence and will, eventually, become a standard part of the recruitment process. Until then, most people will find it a challenging experience. The important thing is to make sure you’re doing the interview for the right reasons, and that you plan effectively and prepare properly. In fact, the more you can treat it as a ‘normal’ interview the easier it will be.

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