I’ve been on more job interviews than I can count. It dawned on me that I have aced every single one! That is: I have never interviewed for a position I didn’t get. So who better to guide you on your job hunt in the ME than me?
Finding and interviewing for a job in the UAE can be difficult. It is a conservative country, and inasmuch it is accepting of other cultures and norms, it is wise to err on the side of caution when interviewing for a job. Unfortunately most of these tips would apply to women more than for men. It is what it is.
If you are physically in the UAE a face to face interview is de rigueur, possibly followed up with a panel interview. If you are applying from outside, most employers will ask for a Skype or telephone interview.
I’ll be writing from the point of view of the face to face variety since I have done way more of those. If you’re interested in a post on the Skype interview, let me know.
- Do research the company. Go to their website. Read the Mission Statement, Goals and Values, Philosophy and know who the main players are. Prepare to quote something back during the interview. Mention a recent success a company may have had.
- If you’re interviewing face to face, check your route before the time with Google Maps. Plan accordingly. If you’re going to Dubai or Sharjah – PRAY, or just factor in another hour for travel time.
- Know your interviewer’s name and make sure you know how to pronounce it. Khalid is not pronounced “Kah-lid” but rather more gutturally as in “Gha-Lied”.
- Practice the greeting: “Salaam walaykum” is easy enough. Also practice “Shukran” for leavetaking.
- Plan a outift. Men – wear a suit and tie. Women – a knee-length or longer skirt, with a long-sleeved or bracelet – sleeved blouse and a jacket. Make sure no part of your body is exposed or is visible to the naked eye. Keep makeup subtle and accessories minimal.
- Prepare a list of questions. You KNOW this is part of it. Be ready!
- Have an extra copy of your CV and qualifications in a plastic sleeve or file.
- Trim and colour your hair, have your nails done. Presentation is more than everything here.
On the day
- Leave an hour earlier than you should. Call ahead to confirm, appointments have been known to change and people arrive at dead man’s door.
- Do not smoke before the interview.
- Go to the bathroom upon arrival to freshen up: hair, makeup, breath, whatever. I have arrived at an interview on time, only to walk into a shamal wind! I spent the next 30 minutes combing sand out of my hair and trying to fix my makeup!
- If your interviewer is male and you are female, do not stick your hand out first. Greet in Arabic( see above) and wait to see what the interviewer does. Some men prefer not to make physical contact with you. Sit down only when invited to do so.
- Make small talk. The ME is renowned for its hospitality and it’s seen as polite to ask after the health of the person – several times.
- Ladies, DO NOT cross your legs, but rather cross them at the ankle. You don’t want to risk flashing anyone, do you?
- Accept any offer of water, tea or coffee as it is seen as impolite to refuse. If you are not thirsty, sip slowly and don’t finish it.
- Turn off or mute your phone. Obviously!
During the interview
- Eye contact is a good thing, except when it’s not. Don’t do a stare down. Besides being creepy AF, if you’re a female it may come across as challenging, confrontational or can be seen as a “come hither” look.
- Don’t fidget, relax your arms and hands and don’t gesture too much. Touching the face or body is seen as disrespectful.
- Smile, but not too much ( see number 1!), and be friendly and confident.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, for heaven’s sake, say so! Lying is a big NO -NO! Your interviewer may ask you to leave immediately if you are caught out. There will be no niceties.
- Don’t be too quick to answer. Take your time. This shows thoughtfulness and the ability to think things through.
- Situational questions ( “What would you do if…?”)are popular. Make sure you are up to date with any industry standards and best practices in your field.
- When asking your questions DO NOT ask about salary or benefits. If you are offered a follow-up interview , this will be discussed then. It is seen as disrespectful to ask in the first interview.
- If you are nervous, acknowledge it. Turn it into a light moment. Interviewer’s know that you’re probably extremely nervous. It takes guts to admit it rather than play to a false sense of bravado.
- Do not correct the English of the interviewer. It is seen as disrespectful.
- Do not speak or laugh too loudly. It is seen as disrespectful.
- When leaving, remember to thank your interviewer.
After the interview
- Send a thank you email to the person who interviewed you, as soon as possible. I have been known to send it as I was walking out the door! It keeps you fresh in the interviewer’s mind.
- Call 24 hours later. This is important if you haven’t heard back from the company.
- Send another email requesting feedback from the interviewer at least 2 days later. I usually say,” I would appreciate any tips or advice you may have for me following our interview. I will use it to improve my interviewing skills”. Even if you don’t get the job it opens up a line of communication that is invaluable and often keeps your CV on their desk.
I hope this helped. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email or hit me up in the comments section.
Until next I blog,