Skills behind Cultural Differences
Every organization is looking for people with skills and right attitude and most of them when they put job advert out generally they probably wanted that employee a couple of months ago. This mean that they have less time to train people, they need people who are ready to start right away. Though, you could blame them but at the end of the day it goes back to the job seekers to make sure they always up skilled.
It is very important for professionals to stay on top about innovations in their areas of expertise but unfortunately, being skilled, talented informed does not always lead to succeed. Sometimes your technical skills could not be seen because of cultural differences. In the following paragraphs we will explore instances where cultural differences could be curtains that hide potential candidate's skills.
Communication: In my culture, which is an indirect culture, the best communicator is the person with the ability to lay a good foundation of the message and does not fall short of words and therefore rush to the key message. We start with background information and slowly narrow down to the point. This is what happens when the listener comes from a direct culture. " Wait, wait, wait, What are you trying to say? I am confused. Please get to the point". Remember the patience during interviews is always small, there is another candidate coming after and there is no time to try to understand. Therefore the easiest way to deal with that is to disqualify the candidate because of poor communication skills. But really, it is lack of communication skills? The problem here is that what one culture calls good communication skills the other culture calls poor communication skills.
Being proactive. In high power distance cultures, bureaucracy plays a big role and shapes how people think and act. In this cultures, decisions are made from the top and the bottom execute. It very challenging when a person from high power distance is working with a supervisor from low power distance when working relationship is more flat. The supervisor will expect the report to be proactive and come to them with ideas of things to be done which to a person from a high power distance is a big problem because in their cultures supervisors decides and if you come up with ideas and be proactive it could come across as disrespectful. Now going in the interview scenario, if the hiring manager comes from low power distance and is looing for proactive candidates they will need to dig deep to detect the talent. To make it clear, people from high power distance are proactive but how they act would not necessary look proactive in the eyes of the person from low power distance culture.
Eye contact. In Rwanda we generally do not do eye contact. As kids we grew up being told to not fix older people and we did that to respect people. But in other cultures this could be interpreted as lack of confidence or being guilty of something. If the candidate is interviewing for sales person and does not do eye contact and the hiring manager is not aware of that cultural difference, It would difficult for the person to get the job because in the eyes of the hiring manager a sales person needs to be confident, assertive and persuasive and the candidate does exhibit the qualities.
To keep this post short, I stop with only these examples but there are so many cultural differences examples that shows how cultural differences could be curtains that hide people's skills and potentials. Now, it goes to the individuals to always do a background check of who will be in the interviews and their cultural values orientations. Hiring managers, it is very important that you go beyond cultural differences and be able to detect talent skills. But how do you do it? That where Cultural Intelligence training comes in.
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