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10 Long-Distance Interview Strategies for International Hires

10 Long-Distance Interview Strategies for International Hires

“Hiring the wrong people is the fastest way to undermine a sustainable business” – Kevin J. Donaldson.

When hiring people for your company, these lines from Keven J. Donaldson rings true. While hiring is challenging, finding the right person for a job opening outside of your country is even more challenging to crack because of cultural differences, geographical limitations, and compliance constraints. 

With companies focussing on global expansion, hiring high-quality employees at all locations is essential for sustaining your business. But you might face instances where your home market is too saturated.

So, what do you do?

Interview strategies


Regardless of why you want an international workforce, focus on strategies to help you hire those amazing international candidates.

So, let’s explore those strategies and create a magnetic workforce that takes your business to another level.


10 Long-Distance interview strategies for international hires

Here are some interview strategies for hiring international candidates:

1. Focus on employee engagement surveys

If your company already has a bunch of international hires, use their experience to tailor your interview strategies.

That’s where employee engagement surveys come in. 

These surveys are far more than just connecting with happy international employees. They allow employees to submit feedback anonymously, allowing uninspired and frustrated employees to vent their feelings and express their honest opinions. 

Use these surveys as a channel for honest communication and know the true engagement level of your international team. 

The feedback from these surveys gives data you require to respond to employee issues you were previously unaware of. It also gives you information about difficulties your international hires face and what you might do to overcome them.

2. Pre-determine your phone interview questions

For international hires, conducting a phone interview is an excellent screening tactic. During your initial conversation, ask questions about what motivates them to pursue an international job and whether they’re comfortable working in a specific country. 

Never blindly ask questions. Instead, jot down a few bullet points and ask questions to understand whether they have the right aptitude to adapt to a new location and culture.

Phone interviews


Additionally, when scheduling an appointment, consider the candidate’s timezone and offer a range of appointment times and dates. Providing flexibility during your first interaction is an excellent way to spruce up your professional relationship.

3. Value and accept different cultural norms

When interviewing someone from a region where English is not native, consider the language you use. 

Assess the cultural difference and avoid using phrases limited to a geographical location.

Often, candidates in certain cultures expect a professional tone during an interview. Others might prefer a simple and informal tone. When you use the wrong tone during their interview, candidates might feel uncomfortable. 

So, when adopting a casual approach, ensure it’s in line with the candidate’s culture.

To avoid last-minute surprises, research the norms and customs you’re likely to face. 

Offering good mentoring software, training, and coaching is a great way to attract top-tier talent. This can help alleviate the difficulties international hires may face. Employee mentoring is vital to successful onboarding, better performance and retention.

4. Focus on the conversation

During verbal communication with candidates, accommodate variations in accent, tone, and fluency. 

Mastering the art of different pronunciations and commonly used slang helps you gel well with international candidates. 

To ensure a seamless interview experience, focus on the conversation’s meaning and the answers they give. Being patient and clearly communicating with candidates puts them at ease, and they willingly share their experiences and skills.

Also, if you’re communicating via email, ensure to use the right dialect of the English language. For instance, the United Kingdom uses British English, Australia uses Australian English, and the United States uses US English.

Although all dialects of English enjoy the same tenets of the language, certain phrases and linguistic constructs vary. Communicating in a language widely used in the candidate’s country helps you connect with them.

5. Conduct video interviews

While it’s challenging to conduct face-to-face interviews with international candidates, focus on video interviews using platforms like Zoom and Microsoft (MS) teams.

Companies worldwide use these video interview platforms because they’re as good as in-person interviews. These tools ease communication and ensure your global recruitment strategy is transparent. 

Video interviews


During the video interview, pay special attention to the non-verbal cues and the confidence level of candidates. If they’re constantly fiddling with their fingers, hands, or any other object, it shows their low confidence level. 

Irrespective of how many members interview your international candidates, ensure to record the interview for other team members to refer to and make an intelligent hiring decision.

6. Use virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

While it’s impossible to conduct fun games for international candidates sitting miles away from you, focus on using VR and AR. These immersive technologies provide a fun candidate experience and ensure they perform their best.

For instance, Jaguar teamed up with Gorillaz and created a free mixed-reality app. Using the app, candidates learn about the nuances of electric vehicles. The performance in the games helped recruiters test their curiosity, lateral thinking, problem-solving, and lateral thinking skills. 

Candidates enjoyed such an immersive and innovative experience. Even during long-distance interviews, think out of the box and use strategies encouraging candidates to show their best skills and knowledge.

7. Guide the conversation

Breaking the ice with international candidates is essential, and you might do it effectively by creating a structure for the entire interview process. 

Establishing an interview structure ensures you cover all grounds within a limited timeframe. 

It ensures you don’t overlook important information and collect relevant information from candidates.

A typical interview structure starts with you outlining the company and what the role involves. Typically, this is followed by posing a series of questions and asking candidates if they have any questions to ask. 

Opening the discussion by giving candidates an overview of their interview process ensures everyone is on the same page. This eliminates last-minute surprises that confuse and make candidates go off the track.

8. Focus on active listening

Listening is a pivotal interview technique as it helps you listen and understand what the candidate is saying. Actively listening ensures you’re fully engaged. You’re asking the right questions and connecting the dots. 

Using your active listening skills, you dig deeper to gain insights into a candidate’s skills and experience. 

Active listening for employers


Before ending the conversation with candidates, ensure you leave it with an in-depth understanding of whether they fit the role. 

Active listening is a recruiter’s greatest secret weapon as it helps them choose an ideal candidate.

9. Avoid asking common interview questions

Asking interview questions such as “Where do you see yourself five years down the line?” or “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” usually elicit well-rehearsed responses. 

Search the internet, and you have tons of answers to these questions. 

So, focus on asking unexpected questions, such as:

  • Describe the project you hated the most.
  • How do you learn a new skill?
  • Describe yourself in two words.

Asking unconventional questions shows how candidates think on their feet and understand their thought processes. It’s a good indicator of how they’ll deal with workplace challenges.

Based on the job you’re interviewing, ask some technical questions to test the competency level of candidates. 

10. Ask scenario-based questions

If you want to know the knowledge level and expertise of your international candidate, focus on asking scenario-based questions. 

While it’s easy to rehearse technical questions, scenario-based questions show how candidates react in a particular situation. 

If your company faced workplace challenges in the past, elicit those same challenges in front of candidates and ask how they might react to such situations. 

Candidates whose answer matches the solution are a perfect fit for your company. 

In addition, answers to scenario-based questions show insights into the pertinent accomplishments of your candidate. 

Hiring the best international candidate

Understanding and implementing interview strategies is not something you master overnight and cannot be achieved on a whim. 

Recruiting is slowly becoming more challenging than ever. For staying competitive, you need to think out of the box because only then your company has an edge over competitors looking for qualified candidates.

Using the right mix of technology and effective interviewing techniques helps you hire candidates from distant places without worrying too much about expanding the global workforce. 

Companies worldwide are slowly transforming their interview strategies to hire the best talent irrespective of the candidate’s location. 

Welcoming this change and using tech to interview candidates helps you grow as a company and ensure it’s packed with talented and qualified employees.

Priya JainFeatured Guest Expert Priya Jain

Priya Jain has been copywriting professionally for over eight years. She has attained an engineering degree and an MBA. She teaches math, spends her time running behind her toddler, and tries new recipes while she isn’t writing. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Strategic interview questions

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