The ongoing economic crisis in the US and Europe has created a strong need for HR professionals to rethink their recruitment strategies. While many companies are reducing the number of people they hire in the UK and the US, experts predict a dramatic increase in recruitment over the next six months in countries like China, Taiwan, India and Brazil. With this in mind, Western companies can benefit immensely from hiring overseas until Europe and the US find their way back into a safer economic foothold.
Recruiting people from different cultural backgrounds is not always easy and there are many things HR professionals and managers need to consider to ensure that the people recruited have the right skills and knowledge for an international role. Taking part in a cultural awareness training course will help HR professionals and senior management to successfully recruit talent from different cultural backgrounds.
A recent report by the Society for Human Resource Management suggests that a global mindset and cross-cultural intelligence are the two most important competencies that senior HR professionals should have when working across cultures. An increasing number of multinational organisations are recognising the need for global skills like these but efforts to develop the cultural competencies of HR professionals need to intensify to effectively harness the benefits of global talent before other companies beat them to it.
Culture is a very complex construct and anyone involved in hiring talent from other cultures needs to have a good understanding of how it can influence key recruitment practices such as interviews, assessments and applications. Understanding that a person’s cultural background determines not only which language they speak or what holidays they celebrate, but virtually every aspect of social and professional life is essential.
When hiring new employees from diverse cultural backgrounds, different behaviours and attitudes can create confusion, misunderstandings and false perceptions. For instance, job interviews conducted by a German company in China may not result in hiring the best candidates as a result of the large cultural distance between the two countries. The following are some key areas where the interview may fail as a result of a lack of cultural awareness and cross cultural difference.
- Directness and openness are highly valued in German culture so German interviewers tend to ask explicit questions around the professional background of applicants. Chinese culture places importance on preserving harmony and implicit communication so being asked direct questions may make Chinese applicants feel uncomfortable and unable to respond appropriately.
- The Chinese key value of Keqi, or modesty, can also easily create confusion for German interviewers. Trying to make a good impression, Chinese interviewees will often try to avoid standing out and behave in a very modest, polite and thoughtful way during the interview. Not familiar with the concept of Keqi, the German interviewer could think the Chinese applicants lack confidence and knowledge and therefore may not consider them for the job.
- Different non-verbal communication styles might also cause misunderstandings. For instance, eye contact is used very differently in German and Chinese cultures. In China people will tend to avoid making direct eye contact with those in a more senior role and therefore may avoid looking directly at interviewers. In Germany eye contact shows confidence and honesty and can create trust between two people. This simple cultural difference can result in a failure to hire competent candidates because of the perception the German interviewer may have had about their confidence level and interpersonal skills.
HR professionals conducting or organising interviews with candidates from different cultural backgrounds can benefit immensely from taking part in a cultural awareness training course. Cultural awareness training for HR can prevent misunderstandings and incorrect negative perceptions of candidates that result in failing to hiring competent candidates.
HR professionals can learn about the cultural characteristics of the country they are recruiting in and develop a better understanding of the potential problems that multicultural workplaces might face on a cultural awareness training course. By developing their cross cultural intelligence and global mindset on a cultural awareness training course, HR professionals can ensure that the interviewees and interviewers feel comfortable during the interview, ask and respond to questions appropriately and make the right impression.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2010