In these times of easier global mobility, many a time when a company is planning to expand its operations, the thought is to rope in an expat to fill in a senior-level role. This is especially true in growing economies like India, where new sectors are opening up that demand the talent of expats who have “been there, done that.” That said, hiring an expat can be a cumbersome task. There are various factors that the HR department needs to look into to ensure a successful expat hire.
The first and foremost step while hiring an expat is to run a reference check. You need to pay special attention to the candidate’s eligibility criteria to get an employment/work visa in your country. Along with this, you need to ensure that the candidate has a clear legal background and all the necessary paperwork is in order. There are stories coming out of countries like the US where even US passport holders are facing challenges to their citizenship because of problems with earlier paperwork.
Besides these, one must pay heed to the candidate’s professional qualifications are as per the declared career graph. Find out as much as you can about the candidate’s previous employers and jobs. You can then crosscheck with those employers whether the information provided by the candidate is accurate or not. These steps are especially important when hiring an employee from other group or company. The company referral checks could, perhaps, be a bit less stringent while hiring within the same organization. When contacting the previous employer, you not only get an insight into the candidate’s performance but also the behavior and conduct in the office environment.
Apart from this, the HR Managers need to look beyond legalese and skillsets, work ethics, and the adaptability quotient. For sure, these are the core values that one cannot afford to overlook while hiring an expat. But, what lies beyond this? How will you assess whether the potential expat employee is fit to fulfil the role you’re hiring for?
Here are some more factors that you need to consider in the quest for an expat employee who will turn out as per your expectations:
1. Decision-making ability
When hiring for a senior-level position, the expat employee would need to make decisions several key decisions. This is the role that will call the shots. Consider someone who is capable of making efficient decisions under various situations -even alien to his or her previous experience.
2. Creative solutions
Every new employee is hired with the expectation of bringing in a new wave of thinking to the organization’s working and expat employees are no different. In fact, given that the expats will be coming with a completely different frame of reference their ability to contribute a fresh perspective would be a huge asset to the hiring organization. Satisfy yourself that the expat employee you are looking to hire is capable of suggesting these creative solutions for issues or business situations.
3. Mentoring skills
Expat assignments are often time-bound. This means that the expat would be expected to come in, set up a function, manage it for a while, and train someone to take over for when it is time for repatriation. This suggests that a key skill the incoming expat employee should be able to exhibit is the ability to coach and mentor others in the organization.
4.Respect for the local culture
As much as it is important for the expat employee to come with a solid background from the home country, it is equally essential for the expat to respect and accept the local culture of the host country. This could be the key capability that enables the expat and employees to work effectively together.
5. Will to learn and unlearn
Clearly, the expat will be put into new and difficult situations every day. In that situation, the most important ability one could possess is the willingness to learn and unlearn. Shifting to a foreign land makes one come across things that one might have never encountered, or even imagined. The expat employee should be willing to learn new things and approach the experience with an open and enquiring mind. This could be a fascinating journey or building new skills, capabilities, and attitudes and the expats who do the best are often those who embrace the experience wholeheartedly.
These are things that the HR Departments may overlook while hiring an expat employee. This is understandable given that they focus the entire attention on the more obvious criteria and requirements. We hope that following these additional suggestions will help you end up hiring the right person for your organization.