I have been preparing Latin American executives for global or regional Assignments over the last 10 years. What still calls my attention, after so many years on the ground, it is the fact that Latin executives undervalue intercultural differences in their preparation for the interviews for this kind of opportunity.
Of course, there are some characteristics of our cultures that contribute to it. Certainly, one of them is our overconfidence in relationships. As, in general, Latin Americans focus on relationships based on similarities, friendly and non-conflicting coexistence, this may blind us for the need to show the multiple, different and profound perspectives of ourselves. Another point that might make us fail include the tendency to overtrust our capacity to be nice and flexible.
For those who want to reach Regional or Global Positions and need to be prepared for a set of interviews, I would like to give some tips for your preparation not just considering intercultural aspects but also strategic ones.
1) Unveil your own intercultural profile. This will help you to be aware of your preferential intercultural styles considering the five dimensions that matter to characterize every culture: how you communicate (in a more direct or indirect way); how you take decisions (using an independent or interdependent approach); if you are more oriented to task or to relationship; how much risk you are comfortable taking; how you deal with protocols, status and rules.
2) See from where your interviewers are and check the average intercultural profile of their countries. Be attentive to how long they have been working with global teams because this might have caused them to change. This information will give you a guidance of how you should answer questions and create your own narrative, for instance: if you need to use a more direct communication style (which can be difficult for some Latins), how much you need to make your achievements tangible with good examples, what kinds of stereotypes you need to overcome (Be aware that every culture creates stereotypes about other cultures. Therefore, thinking about how to avoid them is important), how you balance “I have done” with “My team and I have done” – some cultures will take you as insecure if you use “we” instead of “I”.
3) Be prepared to establish rapport quickly. During your interview try to show that you are capable of establishing rapport quickly, saying things like: I have seen from your background, that you have already managed a projected related to…, I would also like to have this chance as it is very related to my purpose or it would enrich my experience regarding…… Global professionals need to be very good at connecting quickly with people. Latin Americans, in general, need time to establish rapport.
4) Create a good and interesting narrative about yourself. In order to create that, it is a good idea to keep clear for yourself: your purpose, your values, why you want the opportunity in case, how you face critical or unexpected situations; how you develop people and let them flourish; your professional dream; how you create good processes that allow your team multiply themselves; how you create a culture that enriches evolution and creates impact in the organization; what you “overdo” and what you do “too little” and how you self-regulate in these extremes, using what is more effective in every context and with each person avoiding your own biases; what your own personal brand is and how it helps you to fulfill the requirements of the opportunity in question. After reflecting about those points, try to create an interesting and creative narrative, showing how you are aware and comfortable with yourself – your strengths and developing points.
5) Be aware that nobody is 100% sure that if they can do a good job in a new and challenging position. Bearing that in mind, be prepared to provide good examples of how you face challenges and react when you are vulnerable, such as: asking for help, searching for good mentors, pairs and knowledge. Give examples of how you respond to adaptive challenges. Show that you can be humble enough to acknowledge that you do not know everything but you are also smart and agile enough to search for help or advise.
6) Be prepared to answer a question like: how do you evolve yourself in terms of mindset and behavior? Give examples of changes that you have gone through as moving forward in your leadership pipeline. A senior interviewer knows that going forward in leadership requires changes in our own way to see the world and to interact with people.
7) Be aware that regional and global jobs involve more matrixial relationships. Probably, you will need to act more as an influencer of changing movements in other countries, creating guidelines with the participation of everybody. Diversity will be present in your routine on a daily basis.
8) Try to be informed about strategic changes that will happen in the position or in the department you are interested in. This will be essential in your preparation, facilitating objectiveness in your answers and showing alignment with those changes. Besides, it will demonstrate that you have done your job.
9) Don’t be afraid to make questions. Good questions can show to your interviewer that you have critical and independent thinking, as well as real interest in the opportunity.