Expatriate management can be one of the most difficult areas for a HR professional. Research estimates that expat failure rates can be 20% or higher depending on the country or relocation. To further compound this, an article from the Economist estimates expat turnover on their return from assignment as high at 60%.
The reasons behind expat failure can be a complex mix, specific to destination, industry and support structure. However, when it comes to recruiting for an international assignment there are characteristics and personality traits that many successful expats share.
- Adventurous: the most successful expats have always been happy to try new things, methods or ideas. Pay attention to those who have shown this characteristic in both work and personal life.
- Problem solvers: having an ability to show resilience and adaptability, will stand to an expat as they face the challenges of their new role.
- Self-confidence: belief in their own ability will be key in terms of reaching challenging company goals while in an unfamiliar country.
- Interpersonal: useful in all leadership roles, interpersonal skills are particularly key when it comes to developing relationships with colleagues abroad.
- Initiators of change: many expat posts involve change management of some kind. The greater the change, the more essential this role will be.