There is a well-known adage: You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Studies have shown that within one minute, you’ve already made your impression! As there are many cultural differences between professional interviews in Israel and other countries, here are some important tips to prepare you to make a great impression on your potential Israeli employer and increase your chances of getting hired.
Before the Interview
- Learn about your industry in Israel and the company which is interviewing you. The Internet and other professionals in the field can be excellent sources of information.
- Practice your presentation. If you think that you’ll be interviewed in Hebrew, practice in Hebrew with an Israeli.
- Prepare extra copies of your resume.
- Have in mind why you are THE person for the job and be prepared to talk about your strengths.
- Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer.
- Dress professionally and neatly. Beards should be kept neat and trim. Consult with an NBN employment counselor if you are not sure how to dress but in general, business casual is the way to go.
- Arrive 10 minutes early. Be sure to get directions ahead of time and take traffic into account.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- If your interviewer is of the opposite sex and appears to be religiously observant, it’s best not to initiate a handshake.
- If speaking in English, don’t infuse speech with too many Hebrew words (or Jewish, religious-sounding expressions). This goes for a pre-interview phone conversation as well.
- Watch your body language and posture: Don’t slouch or fidget.
- Make eye contact and smile!
- Listen to what your employer is asking and answer directly. Don’t give too many personal details or long-winded answers.
- Be confident and positive, without appearing arrogant.
- If you are asked questions with potentially negative answers e.g., “How’s your Hebrew?” or “Why do you want to leave your current employment?” give your answers a positive spin , for example: “I’ve improved my Hebrew greatly and continue to work on it,” or “I’m looking for a new challenge…”
- Never speak badly of a previous employer.
- Don’t argue or apologize.
- Don’t promise to deliver something that you really can’t.
- Don’t ask about salary directly, especially on a first interview. If the interviewer asks for your salary expectations, you can say: “While I understand that salaries are not the same as in the US/Canada/England, I would like to be paid my market value.” This is something you may want to discuss with an NBN employment counselor before the interview.
- Ask when you can expect to hear back.
- Follow up with a thank-you email, which studies have shown can positively influence the employer’s decision to hire you.
- If you’ve agreed to follow up the interview with something specific, e.g., a writing sample, do so as quickly as possible.
- Don’t let poor manners throw you off! The interviewer may be late or talk on his/her cell phone during the interview. Another common complaint about Israeli interviewers is that they sometimes ask personal, inappropriate questions. You may politely decline to answer. Please note that according to Israeli law, candidate cannot be disqualified based on marital status, army profile, pregnancy or sexual preference. If an interviewer asks a question related to one of these topics and the candidate is not hired, he or she can claim that the interviewer violated the Equal Opportunity Employment Law.
Today, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing many employers to conduct interviews online, it’s important to know how to use the virtual venue to your advantage. This NBN video and this NY Times article offer some great tips on how to shine in an online interview.