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Expat Interviews: Sneaky Little Details

In an increasingly globalizing world, you're more and more likely to have an interview with a person who is seeking to leave their homeland to take a job in another country. For many businesses, the decision to hire such a person will come with a decision-making process that will require more of a thought process. Do we want to sponsor the visa? What are the implications? It feels like a bigger jump than your run-of-the-mill hire.

This is where your interview process is going to be, as usual, critical in ensuring you've made the right choice. If you're asking the right questions, you'll be able to find out some great details about these folks, because by virtue of their decision to become an expatriate, there are some interesting qualities about them that we can extrapolate. That's where I come in!

1. They are willing to take a risk for a perceived opportunity. Deciding to get up from wherever you're living and move to a different country and try it out there is a risk. There's always a chance of a cultural clash, or that you'll find out you miss home a lot more than you thought you would. Lots of people decide that they'd rather head back home after striking out to a new country, and that's okay.

With that risk in mind, many still do make the trek, and it's because they've calculated the risk against what they perceive to be a great opportunity for them, whether it's for their career or personal lives. What you may want to know, though, is how that person approached the decision. Did they capriciously throw all their belongings into a suitcase and strike out one day? Or did they meticulously plan each detail in an ever more complicated web of excel spreadsheets, doing a full pro-con analysis before making a decision? One of those is going to be more suitable for the type of business you're in. There's a place in the world for both! Ask about how they decided to seek work in your locale and hear about their process to find out the kind of risk taker you're dealing with.

2. They're comfortable operating in some level of ambiguity. When you arrive in your new home, there's a lot of new to get used to. It can be disconcerting when you're feeling stressed about starting a new job, and all you want is cup ramen for a little comfort food. But not only can you not get cup ramen in your new country, you can't even find the grocery store. The expat is okay with this, because they're willing to start anew. They'll find the grocery store eventually. And sure, they won't be able to buy cup ramen, but they'll find some other noodles that they can use as a substitute and learn to make a passable facsimile that is pretty comforting.

In many businesses, such as startups or companies in transition, ambiguity can be a companion. Finding workers who are not only comfortable in this kind of environment, but can thrive in it, can be tough. Ask about their coping strategies to hear about their maturity in this regard.

3. They invest in themselves. What you'll get in an expat is someone who believes that they are worth putting time and money into. They just put a bunch of time and money into getting themselves to a brand new country, and it was done to better themselves - they'll do the same in their careers for the right situation. So, in a small business where each worker wears a lot of hats, the expat will do yeoman's work for you. As your business expands and you need to figure out who will learn a new inventory system to keep up with it, ask your expat to take it on. He or she will grow with your enterprise in great ways. Ask about their continuing education if they are out of school for a while to hear what they've done so far, and what they've learned on the job. You'll surely hear about a person who's willing to pick up a new skill when the job called for it.

As always, our conversation is deepened when I hear from you. Tell me what you think in the comments below!

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