case studies

international HR

Recruiting international staff

It has only taken a few minutes for you, the experienced recruiter, to be convinced that the applicant was not a good match for the job. He had some great experience but the problem was his attitude. When he came in for the interview, he greeted you without any eye contact and he did not show much energy when shaking your hand. During the conversation, he did not ask any questions about the job. He was more interested in showing how many important people he knew than in providing concrete evidence of his achievements. He even did not seem to understand the type of professional attitudes your organization values.

Recruiters rely on findings from psychology to assess attitudes and reactions during a job interview.  That works pretty well when recruiters assess people from their own country, but when they are dealing with foreign candidates, they can easily make errors.

As a matter of fact, right attitudes and behavior during a specific situation are rooted into a society's values and cultural expectations. What is right, professional, appropriate, and respectful varies from one society to the other.

As a recruiter, you can develop your cross-cultural ability to effectively read foreign applicants' attitudes and reactions. By knowing how expectations vary across cultures, you will be able to envision how to effectively prepare foreign recruits' induction and integration into your staff. 


During a professional networking event, Hans, the general manager of Metrodux, met with Elizabeth, a bright Kenyan professional marketer. Hans mentions to her that his company is looking for a new collaborator and suggested to Elizabeth to look into whether she might be interested in applying for the position. Two months later, James gets a note from his HR director with some information about the newly-recruited marketing collaborator. When meeting him, Hans does not get a great impression.  Thinking about the bright Elizabeth, he wonders why she has not got the job. After a short investigation, Hans discovers that she has not even been short-listed... worse, her application seems to have been lost. 

Ensuring that a foreign subsidiary endorses the HQ diversity policy is a challenging task. Selection and Recruitment Procedures are often drawn at HQ with a limited view of when and how discrimination can materialize outside the country of the HQ.

Ensuring the respect of a diversity policy requests a good understanding of the cultural expectations of the place where it will be implemented. This way, specific measures can be taken for preventing local practices and attitudes to bias the recruitment process.


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