Selecting the Right Candidates/Employees for International Moves – What Characteristics and Personality Traits Do Recruiters Seek?

Selecting the right candidates and employees for an international career opportunity can be a challenging task. There are various characteristics and personality traits that must be considered to ensure the candidate is the right person for the job. More and more companies around the world are looking to send employees on international assignments and this trend is not showing any sign of slowing down anytime soon.

For the most part, recruiters are seeking candidates who have a strong desire to pick up and move to a new and unfamiliar location. This is not a competency that everyone owns, and recruiters must take a lot of care to ensure they are making the right pick. According to Worldwide ERC, a long-term international work assignment can cost a company over $1 million and a failed assignment can have a very negative impact on their bottom line. It’s estimated that 7.2 percent of international assignments are terminated before the scheduled completion date. This forces the company to quickly find a new candidate and will ultimately lead to decreased productivity and increased workload for other staff.

International moves can fail for various personal and professional reasons. An experienced global recruitment company will harness their experience to bring forward successful candidates with the right combination of hard and soft skills. Privacy rules make it hard for recruiters to ask personal questions during the interview process, which can make it hard to truly gauge the candidate’s background. It’s impossible to ask a potential candidate if they have an ailing family member or have a shaky marriage. There are various aptitude tests on the market providing recruiters the tools needed to accurately measure a candidate’s personal and professional traits without the need to ask for sensitive information. When looking for the perfect employee for an international move many recruiters will look for the following traits:

  • Ability to be flexible
  • Highly sociable
  • Have an open-mind
  • Proven interest in other cultures
  • Strong empathy skills
  • A positive self-image
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Have a highly proactive, self-starter personality

Ideally, a potential employee will have some form of travel experience, especially in a professional setting. Recruiters will favour a candidate who can demonstrate proven success in a target country or have a track record of excelling in an unfamiliar culture. Candidates who have received an education abroad or have taught overseas will often stand out in a recruiter’s search.

A candidate’s ability to work with various languages is another important factor in a successful international work assignment. Language barriers can create challenges for many people working overseas and recruiters will actively seek a candidate who can communicate in the local language.

Strong communication between the recruiter and the assignee is another important element to a successful international work assignment. It’s imperative that the employee has a detailed understanding (and realistic expectations) of all components of the job including the good and bad things about the assignment. Discussing everything including culture shock, business practices, security, incentives, and pay structure can help both parties understand if the opportunity is the right fit.

Offering a reconnaissance trip gives the candidate and their family a chance to explore the destination and see if it’s the right fit. It may seem like a lofty expense, especially during the recruitment stage, but it’s a great way to gauge if the candidate is the right person for the opportunity. Taking these preliminary steps will assist in preparing not only the candidate, but also the candidate’s spouse and family members for what they can expect from the moving experience. If a company considers the costly implications of a failed relocation, or lost opportunity of a candidate, this initial investment can save substantial resources in the long run.

Working with a recruiter with a background in international assignments is a great way to get maximum return on investment when it comes to expatriate opportunities. Our team of relocation experts have the tools and experience needed to help your relocating employees during a predecision trip to the new location, and assist with settling-in services for international assignments. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist your company with relocating your employees and increasing your company’s global presence.

To find out more about the benefits of a predecision trip to a corporate client and to a relocating employee, visit our Predecision Trip page.

A number of our blog posts focus on preparing employees and their families for international work opportunities and the relocation experience – click on the links below to learn more:

Things to Consider When Thinking About an Employment Relocation

Six Tips for a Successful Employee Relocation

Preparing to Relocate Overseas – Things You Need to Know Before you Leave