10 tips to help you nail a job interview with a Russian employer

Irina Baranova
Thinking of applying for a job in Russia or already have an interview scheduled? This step-by-step guide will help you increase your chances of landing a job offer.

1. First things first, don’t worry too much about the interview. While there are many stereotypes about Russians, whoever grills you is unlikely to be as angry, cold, and sullen as a stereotypical Russian. However, they will often carry out the interview in a rather direct fashion, but this doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate your friendliness and enthusiasm.

2.  Next, it doesn’t matter if your interview is in person or via Skype, make sure you know enough about the company you’re hoping to work for. Visit the website, read about it online, and research what its former and current employees have to say. Also try to remember the name of the person interviewing you - forgetting who you are meeting is unlikely to make a good first impression.

3. If you don’t speak Russian, don’t worry - if this isn’t specified as a required skill for the position it shouldn’t be a problem, though if you do it’s no bad thing. To balance it out, learn at least some basic words or read more about the country in general - some facts about Russian history and culture will help to impress your potential employer and make you stand out among other foreign candidates.

4. Make sure you bring all the necessary documents. Prior to the interview, ask what documents to bring along. You might need to show your printed portfolio, ID to get into the building, or maybe you’ll need more copies of your CV in English or Russian.

5. Think about attire. In Russian companies wearing something formal is not always required so it might be good to ask about the company’s dress code and wear something appropriate. If the company doesn’t have a specific dress code, opt for a business casual style with neutral colors - to make your skills rather than eye-catching attire stand out.

6. Think of answers to common interview questions - in Russia these are pretty much the same as everywhere else: What do you know about the company?; What can you do for us?; What are your current responsibilities?; etc, etc.

7.  If the role involves working in stressful situations be prepared for tough or awkward questions to test your mettle. Keep this in mind and try to show that you can handle a tough work environment and don’t get flustered. Russians don’t like “snowflakes” that break down easily. Under no circumstances should you be arrogant and think that you will teach Russians how to do things - no one will like that.

8. Be ready for more than one interview. Often you’ll meet an HR manager, then your prospective supervisor, and sometimes even one of the top managers of the firm. Recruitment assessment tests and centers can also be part of the interview depending on the company. Usually this applies to international corporations or large domestic companies with a large flow of prospective candidates.

9. There is a moment during any interview when the candidate gets an opportunity to interview the employer itself. Don’t waste time on useless questions and instead try to show your professionalism by asking relevant questions like “Is there an urgent problem that the company is facing right now?; How could I help resolve it?”; “How do you see the ideal candidate for this position?”;  “What kind of advice would you give to someone who just came to the company?” These will show the employer your interested in the position and, who knows, maybe even give you an edge over other candidates.

10. After the interview don’t expect a quick response - It might take some time for the company to make a decision, so the key is to stay in contact with the company and be patient. Whether you get a job offer or not, don’t lose hope - interviews are good experience. If it doesn’t go as planned, you’ll get another down the line. Keep your chin up.

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