Hiring international employees: It’s all about strategy

Hiring employees remotely is challenging, but even more so when you’re recruiting and interviewing with people who live in unfamiliar, international markets. With many cultural differences in resume style and work style to account for, extra care must be taken when assessing international candidates at a distance.

In order to decipher key details about a candidate’s skills and experience—and ultimately make an informed hiring decision—you will need to evolve your HR strategy and approach. There are too many opportunities for nuanced information to get lost in translation (sometimes literally) as you look for the perfect new hire, so be sure you are prepared to thoroughly vet employees in foreign countries.

Here are four ways you can revamp your HR strategy and harness success when hiring international employees:

Study international resumes and ask for clarity

Even though international candidates often tailor their resumes to appeal to American companies, cultural differences in resume style can cloud your judgement and cause you to miss important details about their skills and experience. As you look to hire employees overseas, be aware that foreign resumes can be confusing and might even break “the HR rules” that job seekers in the U.S. follow.

For example, German resumes include a lot of extra personal information including: date of birth, parents’ occupations, religion, marital status and more. This resume style with detailed personal information is likely due to Germany’s strict labor laws, which can make it difficult to terminate workers. It’s customary for employers in Germany to know as much as possible about a candidate before they make an offer—unlike employers in the U.S. who are bound by workplace discrimination laws.

Another notable difference in German resume styles is how candidates emphasize nouns—sometimes in all capital letters—and focus on the knowledge they have accumulated, rather than emphasizing their skills and focusing on how they performed like candidates in the U.S. often do.

To find the best international candidate, it’s important to closely study resumes and ask job seekers to provide clarity about their skills and work experience. You will need to decipher cultural nuances in resume style and look beyond the “HR rules” in Western culture to find out what an international candidate really has to offer.

Ask for recorded video responses to interview questions

When interviewing candidates that live in foreign countries, phone and video are often the primary channels for communication. These channels have come a long way to help connect people across the world, but oftentimes they do not capture the subtle information, clues and details you need to make an informed hiring decision. In order to gain key insights from your remote interview process, your communication with overseas candidates will need a strategic approach and clear expectations.

One way to approach video communication strategically is to ask candidates to record their responses to interview questions. This approach helps you learn whether or not candidates are willing to go outside their comfort zone. By requesting that recordings are kept under a certain time limit, you can also gain insights about which candidates follow directions and who can deliver a clear and compelling message under pressure.

Not only does this method makes it easy to set clear expectations for candidates, it ensures that they are comfortable collaborating through video—a commonly required skill for remote work.

Conduct virtual skills assessments

Since employee mentorship and training are much harder to achieve with remote workers, extra care should be taken during their interview process to assess whether or not candidates have the skills needed to be successful. Skill-related tests can help you determine if someone already has most, if not all, of the experience required to excel in a certain position.

These skills tests will vary depending on the type of work and responsibilities—the communications job may require a writing assessment, while the software development position requests a coding test. No matter the type of position you are looking to fill, these assessments are useful for gauging how qualified a candidate is for a position. They also provide a firsthand look at the quality of a candidate’s work and show how quickly they can complete an assignment.

Even though skills tests are helpful to assess whether a candidate is able to perform a job, you should also be evaluating international candidates on their work style and ability to collaborate remotely. Remote work requires certain behavioral attributes like:

  • Strong written communication skills
  • Self-motivation
  • Ability to work independently
  • Collaborative and cross-culturally literate

Well-designed questionnaires can provide you with some behavioral insights about whether a candidate is a fit for remote work at your company. You can use third-party tests that are validated by experts, but many employers create their own internal skills assessment standards that reflect their core values.

Since the best hiring decisions consider many aspects of an international candidate’s personality, behavior and skills, using assessments and questionnaires to evaluate these aspects can be well worth the time and effort.

Offer a paid work trial

No matter how well designed your hiring process is, you really don’t know an international candidate until you have worked with them. Likewise, they don’t understand the experience of working for you until they have tried it.

A temp-to-perm paid employment trial can provide reassurance for both employee and employer. During a trial, you are able to thoroughly assess an international candidate’s collaboration style and skill level, as well as how well they fit with your unique culture. Meanwhile, your temp employee has the ability to learn more about their role and your company’s leadership style and expectations.

Since there are plenty of mutual benefits with this arrangement, many companies have started to hire prospective employees on a temporary contract for three to six months. But when hiring in international markets, which have complex regulations and labor laws, employment contracts can become a time-consuming and risky endeavour. Instead of worrying about compliant contracts for temporary employees, you can hire through Global Employment Outsourcing (GEO). This employer of record service helps you manage global HR complexities like local tax and labor laws, regulations and even onboarding, so you can get right to work with your new temp.

Outsourcing global employment can quickly revamp your international HR strategy and ensure you avoid critical hiring mistakes.

By:

The Safeguard Team
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