What sorts of things should we look at to determine if the hiring will be successful?
Focus on the person, not the cultural aspects. While it's easy to get hung up on the fact that an employee is from a different country, in reality the company culture is far more important.
- How he communicates
- How he works with a team
- How he deals with stress
Country Culture vs. Company Culture
There are so many factors on whether or not someone can adapt to a country:
- Can they handle the climate?
- Can they find a group of friends?
- Can they find a spouse?
- Will their family back home stay healthy?
There is no way to control any of these factors. Even if you ask about them, it's one thing to say, "The summers here are really hot, are you okay with that?" and another thing to actually live in 100+°F (38+°C) weather for 3 months a year, or to deal with snow for the first time. There is no way to test whether someone can adapt to these things when hiring someone from overseas.
After over a decade of living and working overseas, I have found it almost impossible to determine who will still be around in a year. I have seen people with great language and cultural awareness give up and go home after a year. And I have seen people who I thought would go home after a year have made this their home a decade later (while still struggling with the language and culture).
In my experience, people with good jobs are much happier than people without them. So focusing on making the job a plus will greatly increase the chance that they stick around and are motivated to adapt.
So focus on the company culture rather than the country culture when you interview.
Two-way Adaptation vs. Forced Assimilation
Any working environment with different cultures is going to have some friction. Even cultures as close as the US and the UK, who share a language and a long history together have very different social mores.
For instance, the English love banter. You may look at the definition and think, "What's different about that?" yet virtually every time I see an American interact with the English for the first time in a social setting, they get offended. On the flip side, the English culture isn't as open as the Americans, and are often absolutely horrified by how loud and outgoing people are, even to people they have just met.
If you expect people to assimilate to your culture, you will evaluate their ability based on how well they are adapting -- not on their ability to adapt. You are measuring them against an impossible standard for them to live up to which will lead to dissatisfaction on both sides. Focus as much on whether your company can adapt to an international worker as you do on whether the international worker can adapt to your company.
Finding a Good Fit
A great way to see if they fit your culture is having a chat like Lee Abraham suggested:
instead of an interview where you sit down and do a formal question and answer session you try to have a conversation with the candidate. Ask them questions and encourage them to do the same but try to have an actual conversation with them instead of just you asking questions and them giving a formal and likely well rehearsed answer.
Each company has its own culture, and each team has a different way of working. Figuring out how the candidate deals with regular aspects of doing the job is the best way of figuring out if they will fit with your team. The three main areas are:
Here are some sample questions/topics you can bring up in the interview to get a good idea of the candidate's 'soft skills':
Find out how the person communicates. Do they take an active role? Are they more passive? Do they ask for help when they need it? Do they expect to be micromanaged? Do they express disagreement openly?
Find out how the person works with others. Do they expect to play follow the leader? Do they work better with a flat structure? Do they like bigger teams, or prefer working alone? Do they create social bonds with team members to build trust, or view it as a practical professional relationship only?
Find out how the person deals with problems. Do they hide the issue until it becomes obvious? Do they panic when things get tough? Do they work better under pressure? Do they have a habit of giving up? Do they depend on others to lead them through a tough time, or do they become more self-reliant?