International employment recruiters expect candidates to take time and prepare for job interviews for overseas jobs. “Sometimes, candidates only have one opportunity to impress international hiring consultants,” says a top foreign recruitment consultant. “To be competitive, candidates don’t want to sound dishonest.” Often, it’s how a candidate answers a question that can be taken the wrong way.
Culture can cause misunderstandings during interviews
Sabi nga nila “honesty is the best policy”, that’s why recruiters want you to be honest. But sometimes cultural differences make answering questions complicated, causing your explanations to sound dishonest. Western cultures tend to have a strong rules and process orientation that impact the way they conduct and evaluate their job interviews. Questions tend to be linear and monochronically structured: 1), 2), 3), 4), and so on. Answers should follow that pattern: “First I did this - then I did that,” and not jump back and forth. Recruiters often evaluate candidates on their ability to establish or follow a specific process.
Below are situations to consider in job interviews, and different ways to approach them so that recruiters and companies overseas don’t question your integrity.
1. How to answer questions about experience. Bawal mag-sinungaling, bawal gumawa ng kwentong hindi naman totoo. Don’t say yes if you don’t have the specific experience. If you can’t answer the follow-up question with specific examples, it makes you come off as if you are dishonest.
Instead, say something like: “Our company used that [equipment, software, etc.] although my department worked on [name the actual equipment, software, etc. you have experience with] so we became familiar with both formats.” You should expect a follow up question. Be prepared to give examples of what you know.
2. Research in advance the specific skill(s) required for this job. If you don’t have them, study a book or attend a seminar beforehand, then you can answer: “I did not work with it, but I have always been highly interested in it and read a number of books, also attended seminars about it.” Now, you can give examples or demonstrate your willingness to learn the skill without seeming dishonest.
Many recruiting handbooks in the Western world advise their interviewers to ask what they call “biography-oriented questions”. These questions are supposed to reveal your skills and personality through the specific behaviour you describe in the example you give. So for example, questions like a) “Please share a time when you convinced your teammates to do something you wanted him/her to do?”; or, b) “Please give an example of when you shared important information with people in another department?”; or, c) “Please describe a situation where you successfully resolved a conflict?”
3. Give clear and specific examples
You may find these questions difficult to answer, since their intention is not very clear. Also, it can be difficult to come up with a similar situation in your own life. But if you fail to answer the question, ramble, or obviously lie, recruiters will see this as being dishonest. If you don’t have specific examples for the same situation they are asking for, share similar situations where your skills, contributions, and decisions made a difference.
In order to avoid rambling and not directly answering the question or trying to make up an answer could make you come across as dishonest, come to the interview prepared with several good situations that show your skills. The more easily you can come up with clear and specific examples from your career, the more you will appear structured, business and team-oriented, enthusiastic, creative, likeable, knowledgeable, and socially skilled.
4. Ask clarifying questions . Kung hindi mo naintindihan ang tanong, ask the recruiter for an explanation of the question: “Can you repeat the question? I am not sure if I understood it correctly.” Or, “I apologize for asking the question again, but I am not sure what exactly you are trying to find out. I want to be sure to give you the correct answer.” This will help you get to the intention and give a direct answer and/or example. If you are not sure and give an answer that doesn’t address the intention, you may come off as dishonest or worse--unqualified.
Western interviewers are likely to appreciate your question, as they are looking for a candidate who is willing to ask for more information in order to give them the best answer. They will want you to express clearly and honestly your personal view, your idea for solving a problem, and your individual position on a specific topic in the job interview. Understanding these cultural differences will help you shine during an interview for a job abroad and remove any perceptions of being dishonest.
©2018 Ikon Solutions Asia, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this article shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from Ikon. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this article, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of information contained herein.
Ikon specifically disclaims any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this article.