By James Thomas - Acting Talent Development Specialist
I'm speaking to you - yes you!
You're bright and I know that - you've made it this far. Okay you've contributed above and beyond throughout your education - perhaps you took part in loads of societies, were heavily involved in sports and music or maybe you were head of these or even a 'President'; that's great. You achieved a good quality degree from a top university; great again. This is all just great!
So what’s my point you may ask? Why do I sound like I’m borderline presumptuous? Great question. Well, the clue is in the title. If you don’t mind, I’ll try to explain.
It's time you really stand out! Take your future into your own hands!
Crucial interview questions will test you as follows:
What sets you apart from other graduates in the job market?
Easy. Proving you have the ability to work in a culturally diverse team making reference to previous experiences. Hint: What have you done unique, exciting and relevant compared to your peers.
How do we know you're the right candidate for this role?
Bluntly put, they want you to tell them about your work experiences to test whether you can cope in this industry and how you’ve managed to do that well and again, stand out from your peers. Hint: Intern abroad!
Globalisation of the economy and increasing dependence on teams in the workplace has led to a dramatic rise in the number of culturally diverse teams in companies all over the world. Diverse teams are integral to a company's success especially when it comes to tasks that require different perspectives, as the group possess a wider variety and depth of knowledge. When it comes to the customer, arguably the main stakeholder in a company, this knowledge means they have a better understanding of their needs. A true understanding of what the customer wants results in products and services that are superior to any other on the market - in other words diverse teams create products that sell. This is why companies are keen to recruit individuals who are capable of working with colleagues from other cultures.
Recently I read an article online in the Harvard Business Review named 'Managing Multicultural Teams', in fact HBR have a whole section on cross-cultural management and that highlights just how important this topic is. The article gives an example of the difficulty of cross-cultural management; there was an international software company that needed a team in India and a team in the US to launch a new product within a tight timeframe. The team faced communication problems and had different ideas about the time scale of the job - the Indian team believed the product could be launched within 2-3 months and naturally the fast pace of business in the US caused their estimation to be just 2-3 weeks. There was a lack of understanding from both parties about each others’ work culture/ethos and this resulted in time being wasted on sorting communication issues instead of creating a valuable product. The fact is that multicultural teams often lead to frustrating management dilemmas.
This is becoming an ever-increasing problem and so graduates need to be able to prove they can flourish in a cross-cultural team. Think about it this way, if you applied to university to do Medicine but you didn't take any science based A levels; it is very unlikely that the university will offer you a place as you have not proven you are capable of such a demanding course. The same goes for proving you have what it takes to work in a multicultural team in an interview as you may be all too aware that graduates are viewed as inexperienced and not job ready.
Risk is defined as the potential danger that threatens to harm or destroy a company. If we think back to the example HBR example given earlier, we can see that companies need to eliminate the risk of new employees coming into the organisation and causing problems due to their lack of experience working in cross-cultural teams. Interning abroad proves that you have the interpersonal skills they require from you, proving yourself in this way means you are much less of a risk when it comes to hiring. Reduce the risk, increase the chance of success - simple.
So there you go, I've unlocked the secret to that job you want - now go out there and get it!