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Interview etiquette and corporate culture from across the globe

"No matter where you are in the world, first impressions count," Glassdoor’s head of international product, Tico Andrea, said. It was in reference to the company's most recent research, which highlighted the global variations of interview etiquette.
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When it comes to the UK, the report on interview etiquette claimed, candidates are expected to follow up over email and thank bosses for their time. Those who don’t, come across as uninterested. In Japan, knocking on a door two times is on par with checking if a toilet cubicle is vacant.

It shows that each country world-wide has a different way of doing things, and if you get them wrong, your interview or business meeting could be over before it has even begun.

Restaurant interview etiquette

When you’re meeting someone for a meal in another country, there are various aspects to keep in mind. Brazilian business lunches, for example, take place past 14:00. It may not seem different at first, but they tend to last for three to four hours.

If you’re in India, never handle food with your left hand as its considered unclean, and prepare to drink thoroughly in France. Glassdoor suggested that your wine glass will never be empty. It will also be “a long and formal experience, through which you need to keep your hands on the table, not on your lap.”

Likewise, in Germany, drinks will be involved. There, it’s interview etiquette to end the meal with a toast: “Erst mach dein Sach, dann trink und lach!” In other words, “first conduct your business, then drink and laugh!”

Bodily matters

Much etiquette revolves around the concept of touching or how you position your body. Andrea explained: “Never touch someone’s head in India without permission as it’s seen as the ‘seat of the soul’.”

Germany and the UAE view handshakes very differently. The former sees it as important, though you should probably avoid other forms of contact during the first meeting. The UAE, on the other hand, doesn’t always consider it appropriate. If it’s on the cards, and they’re a member of the opposite sex, wait for them to initiate it.

Andrea added: “The Chinese are expressive with people they are familiar with, but when meeting someone for the first time, don’t display too much emotion, be overly affectionate or make too much eye contact.”

Good posture, while keeping your hands close to your body, are also key. Meanwhile, winking and pointing are considered no-no’s in Hong Kong, with the latter normally used on animals.

Talk the talk

In the US, you’re expected to introduce yourself, explaining who you are, what you do and what you hope to achieve by meeting them. You’ll make a better impression by being factual and using simple words.

Canadians also prefer a direct style of communication. Stay clear of a “hard-sell” approach though, Glassdoor said, as it could be mistaken as aggression.

Russians aren’t fans of small talk and Australians swear in the workplace. “Ba**ard is frequently used as a term of endearment,” Andrea explained. “Similarly, the Dutch sometimes come across as over-confident or rude. That’s because they are very honest and open, having been taught to share their opinions from an early age.”

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About Author

Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is the deputy editor of Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

Real Business