9 questions to ask in an expat job interview

June 04, 2019

Either way, interviewing for an international assignment is often different to an interview for a job in your home country. If you are interviewing for a role at home, your life outside of work may not be impacted by a new role. This will not be the case if you choose to become an expat, where every area of your life will change.

Living in a new country and beginning a new role without the support of friends or family can throw up a host of unexpected expat challenges.

An international assignment also offers a host of opportunity. You may land a dream job abroad, develop better leadership skills and give your long-term career plan a boost.

An international interview for an expat role is an opportunity to ask some important questions of your future employer.

Pre-departure training is a programme delivered by multinational organisations. Its goal is to brief employees on what to expect when living and working abroad. If expat training is provided ask what topics are covered? Best practice topics for inclusion are:

  • Practical information for moving
  • Cultural training tailored by destination
  • Language skills
  • Healthcare in your new home
  • Leadership and communication skills
  • Support for family or spouses
Visa applications and related issues are one of the most problematic areas of moving abroad to work. It is important to clarify where the responsibility for visas lie.

The answer to this question will vary by company and the role you are applying for. If accommodation is provided, clarify whether it is for the entirety of your assignment or a period at the beginning. This is particularly important if you are moving to a country with high living costs or where accommodation may be at a premium.

If accommodation is not provided, ask if there are any supports to assist you with finding somewhere to live.

If you are not moving abroad alone, clarify what the situation will be for your partner and family:

  • Can your spouse work in the destination country?
  • Does the company have ties with local/international schools?
  • Are there supports in place to help your partner avoid trailing spouse syndrome?
Your physical and mental wellbeing is critical to your ability to excel at your new role. Standard travel insurance will not cover your healthcare needs as an expat. You require specialist international health insurance. This may be provided by your employer. If not, you will need to invest in international health insurance.

This question will help you understand the type of challenges specific to the location. Some common difficulties are:

  • Communication in the office
  • Language barriers
  • Making friends in the new location

Knowing the most common challenges will help you put a plan in place to mitigate them so you get the most out of your international experience.

If there are other expats working in the office, a call or meeting with them could be invaluable. This is a question to keep in reserve for later interview rounds.

Expats already working with the business will have unique insight on:

  • Cultural differences
  • Moving to the location

You can use this insider information to make your own move a little smoother. 

This is a good question to ask in any interview but particularly for an expat role where expectations are high. How will you know you are doing a good job in six months or a year’s time?

What will this work experience lead to? Are there opportunities for promotion in your destination country? The answers to these questions will help you plan your move abroad.

Although you may not have the opportunity to ask all of these questions, asking a few of them will help you go into an international assignment with your eyes open.

If you do need to source your own international health insurance, we are happy to answer any questions you might have.