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I am a software engineer from China, and now I am working in Spain.

I have been met somehow higher interview failure rate comparing to China. Many times I passed source code exam testing, and I myself think I answer good in face to face technology testing, but finally I got failure in the interview.

Today I asked my a HR from interview company about the feedback, happily she replied. She said that "With regards to feedback from the interview, you came across well technically, however compared to other candidates the communication skills were not the strongest."

I think it must be my problem but I don't know what problem exactly it is. I consider myself is a good kind of person, a nice guy, and surely there is no quarrel in the interview, but obviously that EU technology interviewer think I am not a good guy. So would I know how I find the culture difference here, because maybe I think my attitude is good, but from the side of interviewer, he / she think I am rude.

PS: 1, Because virus, we always interview at home, but most of time able see each other's face. 2, There absolutely no any sensitive topic like race, religion, believe, or sexual orientation, just about my technique background.

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  • How many times has this happened? If only once, just move onto the next one. – Philip Kendall Feb 8 at 16:48
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As someone who's interviewed and hired foreign folks, this feedback could mean one of several things.

  1. Most likely, it means your level of language skills made it difficult to understand you and to be understood in return. (Spanish, or if both of you are using English as a second language to communicate, it's even tougher on everyone.)

  2. Alternately, it may mean you are hard to understand or you have trouble understanding other people and it's not a foreign language problem (I've interviewed plenty of native English speakers where we had a hard time understanding each other on business topics).

  3. It could mean they found you rude or didn't like something about your approach, but that would be more unusual. It's impossible to know if it's this without clearer feedback from them.

What you can do is:

  1. Work on your language skill

  2. Get anyone you know from that language/culture to let you interact with them and give you feedback

But probably the best is

  1. Work on active listening to ensure that you know what someone's saying, and that they know that you understand. This involves listening carefully, repeating the key points back to them for clarification. Do NOT pretend to understand things when you don't, that's a huge problem. Even when someone doesn't speak my language well, if they handle that with active listening and confirming understanding, I get confidence in their communication.
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    +1 for active listening. Even native speakers can have communication issues where what they heard is not what the other person was trying to tell them. Repeating back key points can also help reassure native speakers that they're being understood. The native speaker might be worried that they are speaking too quickly or using idioms and vocabulary the non-native speaker is unfamiliar with, but they don't want to be rude by misjudging a non-native speaker's fluency. – ColleenV Feb 8 at 20:20
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I don't know how fluent you are in Spanish. However based on how you wrote your question I can definitely say your English, although it's get the basic message across, is subpar. So I think there is a big chance that the HR-lady meant to say that your English proficiency is/was not good enough for the job.

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Your "communication skills were not the strongest."

It doesn't mean that your communication skills were bad, it just means that someone else had better communication skills than you.

It could be your accent, your writing, or perhaps even your lack of questions or explanations while coding. But no, it most likely has nothing to do with your politeness.

If you want to practice speaking while coding, I recommend you use http://pramp.com/ (If your communication skills are not good enough, your fellow job-hunters who interview you will tell you. Giving honest feedback is part of the process.)

Otherwise, consider getting someone to help you improve your accent or your writing. There are virtual coaches you can hire and virtual classes you can take. There are also some good youtube videos on accent training. You should also ask a native speaker to review your resume and any written communication you submit.

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As a Spaniard working in the field, I would say that despite the cultural differences that might concern you (culture shock between China and Spain is there), in my experience, as long as you are polite and professional it should be fine given that your technical skills are good. I think this still applies in the "cool/laid-back" kind of company.

Therefore, I think the issue here might be the language barrier, be it accent, listening, speaking, or whatever (I feel you, I'm studying Mandarin and I have it the other way around... :P). Also, keep in mind that generally as a software engineer you are expected to communicate and to at least be proactive to ask for clarification if you don't understand something, in Spain it's culturally acceptable and encouraged even. Try to communicate actively and see if there's room to improve your language skills.

And, lastly, don't give up! This country might have a high unemployment rate, but there are plenty of jobs for software engineers :) If this company didn't hire you, maybe another one will.

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