What To Expect At Interview For An International Assignment in Dubai

The UAE economy has performed well in the first three quarters of 2012 – and surprisingly much of this has been driven by good growth in Dubai’s non oil sector, according to a recent report released by Standard Chartered Bank. The three industrial areas in Dubai which are doing particularly well are trade, tourism and retail. Figures show that Dubai Airport passengers levels are up 13.7% and Dubai hotel guest levels from the GCC increased by 45%. Demand for services and tourism staff is expected to grow and we will expect to see a continuing influx of international workers into Dubai to start up a new career.

So, for you workers who are looking to take your first step into overseas working and are perhaps looking for an overseas assignment in the UAE, particularly Dubai, what can you expect from the interview process? Well, since you are going overseas outside your native country, recruiters and employees will not just be looking at your job related skills, they will also be considering how well you can adapt to working overseas and in a new social and business culture. In fact, I have even conducted a few of these types of interviews myself.

Anyway, I thought it would be useful to outline the hiring process and questions that international candidates may face before going on assignment in Dubai, or any country outside of their native homeland.

You May Face a Selection Panel

Sending someone on an international assignment to Dubai is a huge and risky investment for a business and for this reason it is likely that you will face an intensive selection process including an interview selection panel. This panel may be composed of the line manager and at least one member of staff who has good knowledge of living and working in Dubai and there may be HR staff from both the home country and Dubai. So be prepared for a possible selection panel style interview.

Relevant Overseas Experience Will Be Favoured

Employers will be looking for candidate’s who have relevant experience working in Dubai or elsewhere in the GCC or in culturally similar countries. Failing this, having studied in or having visited the GCC on a regular basis may be of some benefit. Whatever your experience you must familiarize yourself with Dubai customs and culture and be ready to show that you have a practical appreciation of the cultural differences and that you know what it takes to make things happen in the Dubai business culture.

Candidates Who Speak Arabic As a Second language will be Favoured

While it is generally accepted that English is the international language of business, you will find that most companies will favour applicants who have some knowledge of Arabic as a second language. It is both a sign that you have a better understanding of the culture and it will help you to be more effective in your dealings with colleagues, suppliers and clients.

You may face an Intercultural Adaptability Assessment

Many companies will make you complete an Intercultural Adaptability Assessment which measures your ability to operate, collaborate and socialize in different cultures. So, be prepared for this. If your partner is accompanying you on assignment then the company may request that they be assessed too.

Of course, the hiring processes and situation will vary from company to company so this is just meant to be a general overview of the kind of assessment processes that you could face when interviewing for an international assignment in Dubai.


About the author

Kazim Ladimeji is the Director of thecareercafe.co.uk—a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers. It includes a blog with career and small business advice articles. Kazim is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practising HR professional for 14 years.

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