cross cultural interview
Careers advice, Interview

Etiquette for cross cultural interviews: customs from around the world

Things that are business as usual in your culture may clash with the norms another culture, so it’s best to know your audience and adapt.

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking enough in your own language and country, but luckily there are plenty of resources to help you prepare. See our advice on how to answer the most common job interview questions and how to manage an interview as an introvert. But what if you are interviewing for a position for a job in a new country or you’re vying for a role on an international team? It’s important to do some research so that you’re prepared to make a good impression on your new potential employer. Things that are business as usual in your culture may clash with the norms another culture, so it’s best to know your audience and adapt. You’ll not only come across as polite, but you’ll also show that you did your homework and are interested in other cultures.

Here are some interview customs from around the world to help you avoid any faux paus in your next international interview:


Make sure you pack your patience as meetings in Brazil don’t always start on time and can run a bit long. Flexibility is key. Also, be sure to dress to impress! Brazilians appreciate dressing up for the occasion and a suit is a smart choice for both men and women.


In China, nonverbal communication like body language and eye contact can speak louder than words. Be aware of your facial expressions, posture and gestures to convey that you are calm and collected. Being overly expressive is frowned upon in interviews.


You can expect the interviewer to treat you formally (using formal titles, etc.) and you should do the same. If you’re sharing a meal with your potential employers, remember to only use your right hand for eating.


Don’t be alarmed by the barrage of personal questions during an interview in Japan. Questions about your age, martial and family status are standard procedure so don’t let them take you off guard. Also, job interviews are considered serious affairs so it’s best to check your jokes at the door.


Like Brazil, punctuality isn’t the standard in Mexico. You should still show up on time but be prepared to wait. Also, if someone invades your personal space, keep your poker face. It’s common for Mexicans to stand closely when talking and it would be considered rude to step back or show discomfort.


Another country where a job interview is considered a serious event, it’s best to err on the side of caution and behave in a formal way. Make sure you know the titles of who you’re meeting with and address them accordingly.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE is an Islamic country and it’s important to respect their customs. Dress conservatively and don’t offer to shake hands with someone of the opposite gender unless they offer their hand first.

Also, never refuse an offer for tea!

United States

The US is a huge country and the tone and feel of the interview could vary greatly depending on the region and type of company. However, in general Americans appreciate direct style of communication. Be clear and concise in your answers. It also never hurts to have a firm handshake.