Maximize Your Culture and Language Skills in Your Job Interview

In our turbulent economy, U.S. companies are aggressively seeking competitive advantages in the increasingly diverse local and global marketplaces. It is a matter of not only growth, but for many, survival. These companies are not likely to be successful unless they understand the cultures and languages of their customers and employees. Multicultural experiences and / or language skills are very critical business assets employers are seeking in order to thrive in this new business landscape.

How can you communicate your multicultural experiences and / or language skills as an asset? First, you must convince yourself these attributes are advantageous and worthy of consideration.

Therese Droste, a Washington D.C. based career columnist, suggests writing a list of benefits you bring to the workplace. Below are few examples that have appeared on lists developed by clients and our readers:

  • My language skills will be used to resolve cultural or language conflicts or problems between customers and colleagues.
  • Being multicultural or multilingual demonstrates I can adjust my style to different people and situations.
  • Being multicultural or multilingual indicates I have experienced looking at problems and opportunities from different perspectives.
  • Being multicultural or multilingual indicates I think before I act.
  • Being multicultural or multilingual means I know how it feels to be misunderstood, and I also know what it takes to reverse misunderstandings.
  • My accent will be seen as an additional competence that helps me communicate better with colleagues and customers from diverse backgrounds.
  • I understand leadership and creative solutions within the context of my diversity.

The next step is to take that list you made and match them with positive experiences in your life in which your multicultural background or multilingual abilities helped you resolve a problem or communicate better with another person. It’s similar to creating a life resume. Yet because so many of our life experiences become distant memories, you have to ponder the past, target such situations and write them down. Your multicultural assets must be presented in a manner that proves that you can help drive a company’s business goals.

Let’s say you’re asked in an interview how you would deal with a problem situation with a colleague or customer. You could preface your answer with: “Partly because I know how it feels to have the shoe on the other foot…” and then fill in the rest with a specific example of how your background helped you solve a similar problem. Simply put, you provide the employer with an example of how you used your experiences as a multicultural and / or multilingual person to solve a past business problem or show how your skills helped you in a previous job. We suggest you read Be the S.T.A.R. of Your Next Job Interview and use the article’s worksheet to prepare your answers.

Once you’ve convinced yourself of how valuable your skills are, you will articulate them better and gain an employer’s confidence.