Why Cultural Differences Are Important to Consider
When people grow up in the context of one specific culture, it is easy to take for granted the profound roles that social systems and cultural variations in beliefs, norms, and values have in shaping behavior and conduct.
So what does this mean? While everybody obviously has distinct personality traits that uniquely define them as a person, people also tend to exhibit group behaviors that distinguish them from other groups. This means that many behaviors that might be taken for granted as perfectly normal and natural within a culture can often come off as strange or sometimes even offensive when interacting with somebody from a different cultural background.
This also means that cross-cultural interviews can be uniquely challenging, especially for the person being interviewed, who is vulnerable to being misjudged due to misunderstood cultural differences. As such, when participating in cross-cultural interviews, it is important that both the interviewer and the interviewee approach the interview with a degree of cultural sensitivity.
Interviewing a Candidate from a Different Cultural Background
During the job interview, there is no question that the person doing the interviewing has the balance of power, and thus, it is important that anybody giving a cross-cultural interview, say, in response to immigration labor advertising, be particularly mindful that they do not let cultural differences affect their judgment.
That said, those interviewed in response to immigration ads are certainly not the only ones who have to be prepared to account for cultural differences during the job interviewing process. It is perfectly normal for an interviewer to encounter candidates from different cultural backgrounds, religious orientations, and countries than their own, and therefore, it is important to be prepared to take these differences into account.
As such, interviewers should try to integrate questions that give potential employees a chance to talk openly about their cultural background, as well as some common behaviors or actions that might be considered either respectful or disrespectful. This open, honest approach will help clear the air and allow the candidate some room to pinpoint cultural differences. However, the bulk of the interview should focus on assessing the competence of the candidate for the position, regardless of cultural differences.
Tips to Help Interviewees Overcome Cultural Differences
A cross-cultural interview is often particularly stressful for the candidate being interviewed, because their culturally ingrained behaviors or actions can easily be misinterpreted.
While ideally, every interviewer will be fully prepared to approach the interview in a culturally open and sensitive manner, in reality, this is not always the case, and there is little the person being interviewed can do to control the overall tone of the interview itself. What the candidate can control though, when say, interviewing for a position in response to immigration advertising, is their own responses, and this can go a long way to overcoming any cultural differences that might otherwise cause confusion.
Do Plenty of Background Research
Just like any interview, the key to nailing a cross-cultural interview is preparation. However, in the context where a candidate is expecting to be interviewed by a person from another cultural background, it is important to not only prepare to answer common interview questions, but also to be able to know and understand when cultural differences might come into play.
For example, in some cultures, making eye contact with a figure in authority, like an interviewer, is considered a sign of disrespect. However, in American culture, making eye contact is considered a sign of confidence and integrity and is something that an interviewer will generally be looking for. As such, taking the time to understand these differences beforehand can go a long way to smoothing out the confusion.
Of course, a person not accustomed to making eye contact might easily forget in a high-pressure context like an interview, but at least they will know to explain that difference so that the person interviewing can gain a better understanding.
Thankfully, the internet can be a great resource when it comes to getting a grasp on the basics in terms of culturally acceptable and unacceptable behavior in different parts of the world and getting a grasp on what types of behaviors the interview will assume to be normal can help the person being interviewed to avoid misunderstandings.
Try to Perfect Those Language Skills
Conducting an interview in a non-native language can be a very intimidating experience. A language takes time to learn, and it is easy to want to revert to a native tongue in high-pressure situations. However, if there ever was a good time to brush up on those skills, it is before a cross-cultural interview.
After all, the interviewer is going to want to be sure that anybody they choose to sponsor is capable of communicating clearly and effectively, and that will be difficult without fluent language skills. Remember that posting PERM recruitment ads is a complex process, so employers posting immigration ads will be looking for the type of person that won’t get hung up in a language barrier.
Dress the Part
When interviewing for a cross-cultural position, it is important to dress in a way that won’t come off as culturally jarring to the person conducting the interview.
Remember that regardless of a person’s specific cultural background, they will still be expected to dress in a professional manner in the workplace, and the interview is where a candidate can prove that they know how to look the part.
Once again, if a person isn’t sure how to dress appropriately for their interview, the internet can be a great tool. Do some research not only on the workplace itself but also on the general cultural expectations for this type of interview. This way, a candidate from a different cultural background doesn’t risk accidentally jeopardizing their chances of landing that job just based on the type of clothing they chose to wear to an interview.
Cross-cultural interviews can be difficult to navigate, but ideally, both parties should be prepared to navigate differences in an open and respectful manner that will allow the interviewer to really focus on the skills that matter for the job.