Interviewer Psychology: What If the Interviewer Isn't American?

Most likely, you're not here to read a long article - you likely want some short thinking points, or better, some food for thought . . . so here you go:

In my line of work as an Executive Recruiter, I have found myself running into interesting interviewing situations resulting from the Global Economy.  Many of my Clients are true MNCs', and this means that some interviewers may not have been born and raised here in the U.S.  Due to this, I've come to learn that interview preparation must include a cultural understanding of the dominant religions, national issues, and or economy from which your interviewer hails.

[Note: I touched upon this last year in a FistfulofTalent article, "Is American Talent Getting Payback from Chinese Executives" (which can be found at: http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2008/09/the-more-time-i.html).]

For example, if you're interviewing with a Chinese Executive (meaning an Exec born and raised on Chinese soil), you'd be well-served to read up on Confucianism . . . particularly how individuals are taught at a young age to sacrifice individually for the greater good of the group (or the greater good of society.)

Think it doesn't matter?  Think that we're taught the same as Americans?  Think again.  And if you need an example, look no further than our very own Declaration of Independence.  C'mon, you remember the old "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness" line, right? Close your eyes and I bet you can hear your 4th Grade Teacher getting the class to rehearse it over and over.

Another example, you ask?  No problem.  Let's just put it like this: You won't run into too many Chinese Executives that are bumping 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" in their iPod on the way to your interview.

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  • David Godot

    A recent research project (on cultural factors in gambling among the Chinese) had me doing a lot of research into the cultural differences between Eastern and Western cultures. I have to agree with you that the motivations for working and many other activities are very different among people raised in Asian cultures. Whereas Americans are motivated by status within society, the Chinese seem to be more motivated by the status of their society. It is as shameful for them to fail their social networks as it is for us to fail on a personal level. I can only imagine the confusion that could result if an interviewer were unprepared to account for this basic difference in perspective.

    David Godot
    Chicago Psychology Group