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For instance:

  • Are there specific questions to ask an overseas employer that might not be relevant for someone in your country/city?
  • What types of things should an applicant look for in preparation?
  • Are there red flags to watch out for during the interview?

Or, is it basically just like any other interview?

Context: Mid-level to experienced North American applicant; international* European employer.

(*Added a bit to the context - e.g., international company with other North Americans current on staff in HQ Europe office.)

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    Hmm, interesting question. I'm assuming that you're talking about an on-site position rather than remote work? – Lilienthal Dec 1 '15 at 18:41
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    Where in Europe? It has many cultures. – Ed Heal Dec 1 '15 at 18:43
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    First thing that comes to mind is you might ask them roughly how many people from your country they have employed and/or currently employ. There will probably be at least some culture clash at some point, and this could give you an idea of if they've handled it before. Or you might just ask this straight out. – ptfreak Dec 1 '15 at 19:01
  • @EdHeal North America and Europe are not homogenous, of course. However, I'm not specifying the country, so that the question can be helpful to other people vs my specific situation. – user70848 Dec 1 '15 at 20:02
  • The culture in France is a lot different to the UK in terms of working - I have been in both. Germany and Switzerland are also different - and I have limited experience of both those countries – Ed Heal Dec 1 '15 at 20:06
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Are there specific questions to ask an overseas employer that might not be relevant for someone in your country/city?

A couple of things come to mind:

  • What strengths does the hiring manager expect an international candidate to bring?
  • Conversely, what weaknesses or problems does he foresee and how should you both approach that?
  • Language: what is the hiring manager's take on the language barrier? Specific points to hit:
    • Will all my colleagues speak English? How proficient are they?
    • Will project documentation or other documents be in English?
    • Will you be expected to learn the local language? If so, how soon?
    • Do the clients speak English? Will you be able to have a client-facing role? [not applicable to all positions obviously]
  • Will the company provide housing? If so, what kind and for how long? If not, will they at least help out with searching for an apartment? What about family and significant others?
  • Benefits: can vary drastically from those in the US, this is something to discuss with HR after you've done your homework (see the next section)

What types of things should an applicant look for in preparation?

Some of the below are things you should definitely bring up with the hiring manager or the HR department, but you need to do your own preparation in advance as they won't think of everything and might take very obvious things for granted. Bring up any deal-breakers after initial interviews, leave the rest for the offer stage.

  • Legal Hassles: what do you need to legally work in the country? As you'll likely need a work visa, find out whether it's tied to your employer and how long you can stay should you become unemployed. Find out the requirements to apply for citizenship and make sure you prepare the necessary documents even if you don't imagine you'll ever want to go for naturalisation: you might be pleasantly surprised by the country.
  • Taxes: what's the rate, what do they cover, how will your savings and investments be impacted by the move
  • Pension: how long do you need to work in the country to qualify, what about your current pension/IRA, is there some kind of employer matching?
  • Cost of living: combine this with the above three to get an indicator of the actual wage, do not underestimate the value of social security and healthcare and be prepared to take what feels like a huge pay cut
  • Social Security and Healthcare: find out what you are (or will be) entitled to, what you and your family qualify for, what is legally required and what the company offers
  • Language: most Europeans speak very good English and will be happy to speak it, to the point that you'll find it hard to practice the local language if you decide to learn it. But this isn't universally true, so find out how easily you'll be understood.
  • Culture: Western countries are very close to the US but values and norms change the more you go east. Try to get a helicopter overview of the culture, especially as it relates to the workplace.
  • Family Matters: will your SO find work easily, how will the move impact your kids, how expensive are flights home for the holidays, ... (this is beyond the scope of this site obviously but very important to consider)
  • Location and Getting around: how will you commute, what's traffic like, what about public transport, will the offer include a car, what do you need to do to transfer your driver's license

Are there red flags to watch out for during the interview?

There are the usual ones but things like refusal to specify a salary range and unclear expectations or job descriptions are even more of a deal-breaker when you're looking at moving across continents. Beyond that:

  • refusal or inability to answer any of the questions listed above
  • incomprehensible English: your manager, at the very least, should be fluent (s mentioned this won't be a problem for most countries)
  • any sign that the company is not a legitimate enterprise: lack of a website or other communication details (phone, company-specific email domain)
  • the lack of a signing or relocation bonus is potentially a red flag, I don't have the experience to say if European companies routinely offer those to international hires
  • this should really go without saying but any "company" that wants you to pay for anything: background checks, visa applications and so on are all most likely scams
  • refusal to pay expenses for an on-site interview: some legitimate companies might refuse to pay to fly you over but I probably wouldn't consider them
  • refusal to allow you to visit in-person, even if you ask and offer to pay for the flight yourself (though like I said, I wouldn't pay that myself)

Full disclosure: I am European. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but should hopefully be a helpful starting point for would-be expats. If I left out anything important please point that out in the comments.

  • These are really great... I'm really worried about the taxes, legal, work permit stuff. – user70848 Dec 1 '15 at 22:43
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    @user70848 Preparation is key but I dare say there will be plenty of resources online. Consider visiting the Expatriates SE and its chatroom, they might be able to point you in the right direction. (Edit: their chat seems dead sadly.) – Lilienthal Dec 1 '15 at 22:52
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This is coming from someone who works overseas for a North American employer. Some of the things that I've seen been asked (and would ask them myself):

  • Have you had experiences working with people from different cultures? Please, describe a tough situation you've been through.
  • What is your communication proficiency in [language(s) spoken on that specific country]?

Also, if you won't be interviewing on-site, make sure you test your camera, microphone and the software you are going to use with a couple of days in advance. If they are not able to see or hear you properly, this will definitely impact your chances of getting hired.

  • Thanks. Eventually there will be an onsite interview, in my case - if I'm lucky - but this is helpful! I once did an interview, in my own city, and there was a delay that always made it look like the interviewer started off smiling and then stopped smiling whenever I started to say anything. It was not pleasant. Didn't get the job. – user70848 Dec 1 '15 at 23:00
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In addition to preparing for the employer to ask you about working in other cultures and with different languages, you might want to ask the employer if they have other employees from different countries or who speak different languages. You might also ask about vacation and travel allowances to visit home regularly or for longer periods (e.g., there are many people from India who work for my company and my U.S. location, and it's common for them to return to India each year for four-five weeks at a time).

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Ask them if they already have employees in a similar position (so the company is aware of tax, labour laws, visas, etc. etc. etc. and isn't going blindly into this).

Without the experience, it may be quite difficult both for you and for the company to estimate what an appropriate salary would be. Let's say it is a position where you and your employer agree that $80,000 a year would be perfectly fine if you worked in a Boston office. It's then very hard to say what would be appropriate if you worked in an office in Glasgow or Munich.

There's tax laws, exchange rates, cost of living, the cost of moving to a place temporarily (because you don't want to emigrate, right? ) that need to be considered. If the company is experienced and a decent company, they might say "we would pay $80,000 if it was in Boston, and we think £xx,xxx to be appropriate for the same job in Glasgow". You might then accept if you think $80,000 is right and hope they are honest and experienced with their foreign salary, and if it turns out that salary means poverty in Glasgow, then you would complain.

If neither you nor the company have experience, then the correct salary is a tricky bit. Or if it turns out that the UK throws you out after three months, that's bad for both you and the company and you should both figure out what to do beforehand. There is the "expatriate" website for that kind of problem.

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