Saudi Job Interview Tips
Work abroad sounds like an adventure to many people. However, jobs in Saudi Arabia requires more than just the obvious Saudi cover letter and Saudi CV writing and translation - you need to pass the Saudi job interview. You will face issues that probably did not even cross your mind when you start Saudi job search.
Do not get the wrong idea about the impact the Saudi job interview can have on the result of your adventure! For example, you will experience the different immigration rules and habits, job application procedures, the selection trends and the management culture. So, be prepared to take the Saudi Arabia as it is with all of its difficulties, contradictions and challenges.
Most visits to Saudi Arabia are trouble-free but you should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers like restaurants, hotels, clubs and shopping areas. The Saudi Arabia authorities have carried out a number of investigations and operations against terrorist networks.
You should exercise a high level of security awareness and monitor local news broadcasts and consular messages. Making local contacts quickly and seeking support from other expatriates will greatly increase your comfort and safety.
The official Saudi Arabia language is Arabic. In a business environment, English is widely used and understood. Depending on the company, the position and whether or not tests are involved the number of interviews in Saudi Arabia varies. Be ready for more than one Saudi job interview. Also, be ready to practically demonstrate your skills.
Prepare yourself - find out information about the company you want to work for. Research the prospective host country’s cultural and business practices so you can make a good first impression. Books and online guides about cultural differences can help.
Practice your few-sentences sentences "speech" about who you are and what you do. Do not whine. Do not talk about being jobless. Do not dump on your former employer. Be positive.
Make sure you know the technical terms of your industry. Remember that, the same keywords you used in your CV and cover letter will be the base for your job interviews. During an interview, you must be able to talk about them as well in strong and powerful statements that highlight your successes, contributions and achievements. Repeating your main points indicates you are telling the truth.
Saudis judge on appearances. How you dress is the one of the most important parts of not being hired. So, check the Saudi dress code
Saudis respect education, so carefully mention if you have an advanced degree, especially if it is from a prestigious university. Be aware that in most cases the Saudi government insists on degrees from accredited universities.
You need to show that you are flexible, culturally sensitive, able to adapt to new circumstances and cultures, and that you possess some perseverance and motivation (for the job, not the location!).
In Saudi Arabia, it is widely accepted to be late, but this is not applicable to you! So, arrive at least 10 minutes before the job interview and turn off your cell phone.
Manage your online presence on LinkedIn, XING or Facebook. Hiring managers use them more frequently to consult your profile and supplement or check against the CV you send along. Eliminate any photos and statements that could reflect poorly on you. From an employer’s point of view, someone who emphasizes partying on a social networking site is not focused on jobs and those who post complaints about work or colleagues are less desirable candidates. Online CVs should not include sensitive information as they could show lack of respect for confidentiality and discretion.
Remember that it is customary to present a business card (a dual language business card is helpful - English on one side, Arabic on the other), originals and copies of qualifications and certificates, passport photos, passport, written references (references are usually verified, so notify your referees in advance), application forms (where appropriate) and marriage certificate at the initial job interview. An extra CV can be handy too. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression!
If no one is available to introduce you, shake each person's hand and introduce yourself. There are several styles of greetings in use, it is best to wait for your counterpart to initiate the greeting. Men shake hands with other men. Some men will shake hands women; however, it is advisable to wait for a man to offer his hand. A more traditional greeting between men involves grasping each other’s right hand, placing the left hand on the other’s right shoulder and exchanging kisses on each cheek.
Saudis take time during the greeting process to chat about their health, family, mutual friends and acquaintances, and other general matters of interest like sports. However, do not chat about the women or inquire about the health of a wife or daughter. Avoid talking about Israel.
Meetings may be interrupted if they interfere with prayer times
Do not sit until invited. Look less serious and more cheerful. Sustain a relaxed manner, maintain eye contact while talking with someone and restrict the use of gestures. Sit forward and do not slouch or lay back in the chair during the interview. When sitting do not cross your legs, showing the bottom of your shoe or foot is offensive. Keep your hands still and avoid fidgeting.
Get the names (in English) of those you will meet or/and speak to. Before meeting, learn their full names and how address them in person. Titles are important. Use professional, academic or political titles or Mr., Mrs., Miss with the last name when addressing someone.
Talk clearly, slowly and with simple sentence structures, effectively demonstrating your knowledge of the industry and/or the company. Do not interrupt the interviewer and criticize former employers.
When listening to a Saudi talking in foreign language, it is very important to nod showing that you are listen and understand the speaker.
Prepare for all kinds of questions about yourself, your skills, qualifications, experience and hobbies, and answer them as fully as you can, avoiding yes and no answers. Especially prepare to answer questions about yourself:
- What do you think is your greatest weakness?
- Tell me something about yourself?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
- What benefit will the company have if it selects you rather than other candidates?
You do not have to answer personal questions, but consider in advance how you are going to tackle them. If you feel uncomfortable with a question asked, simply smile and say, "In my country, that would be a strange question."
At the Saudi job interview do not volunteer information that the interviewer does not ask for
At a meeting, be aware that the person who asks the most questions is likely to be the least important. The decision maker is likely a silent observer.
Ask questions about the job, the lines of authority and your future responsibilities, but avoid raising the issue of salary or benefits early in the process. Do not forget to ask, “When can I expect to hear from you?” (if that has not been discussed). Be patient since impatience is viewed as criticism of the culture.
Before leaving interview thank everyone present for interview and shake each one hands.
After the interview, do not forget to write a thank you letter and subsequently follow-up by letter, email or phone call. Employers regard this as an indication of your strong interest in the position.
Other Saudi Job Interview Info
Good luck with your Saudi job interview.