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Smile, even into the phone: How to have a successful job interview at a European company

Job abroad

Moving and looking for work in another country is always difficult and scary, especially nowadays. Why are there so many interview stages? Is LinkendIn necessary? Is it too late to learn English?

These are just a few of the questions that job seekers have. And alongside these, the worrying question of "Am I needed/wanted there?”

Media Loft spoke to Luma Manina, head of marketing at EP Advisory, a consultancy company which helps Russian-speaking professionals to build their careers in Europe.

- Where should those who find themselves forced to emigrate start?

  1. - Look around and breathe. Apply for a residence permit in a country where it is (relatively) safe and from where you can then apply for a European visa. This could be Georgia, Armenia, Turkey or Kazakhstan. You can apply for language training in Asian or Latin American countries - here it entitles you to a temporary residence permit.
    It is not possible to apply for a European/British visa without residency in the country of application. There are rare exceptions - for example, for the British visa Global Talent is not prohibited to apply from anywhere. But we still advise our clients to apply from the country of residence to minimise the risks.
  2. Go back to learning English. Movies and podcasts in the background, correspondence with native speakers, regular video lessons - anything to make you more comfortable speaking the language. For many countries in Europe, knowledge of English is enough to get a job (the local language is not required), and its possession does not need to be formally proven, your level will be assessed by the employer at the interview. But for the UK, for example, you have to pass the IELTS exam (exception: if you have previously studied abroad in English).
  3. Analyse your strengths and match them with demand in Europe. Marketing, IT, finance, consultancy, HR, engineering are all highly sought after fields. You can safely look for a job and apply for a work visa. Look for lists of "scarce" professions in different countries and other types of visas - for example, for scientists in Germany and Switzerland.
  4. Look at the resulting list of countries. Where do you really want to go? There are pluses everywhere: the work-life balance in Scandinavia, the dynamic life in London, the stability and social security in Germany. Which factors are most important to you? Choose one or two countries.
  5. Now you can prepare your resume. Knowing specific countries can help you find better rules for writing a CV and generally understand what is valued in the local job market.

- What do European employers look at? What is the difference from Russia?

- The field. In our experience, in addition to IT and technology, specialists in such sectors as engineering, marketing, PR, SEO, graphic design, finance, consultancy, HR and sales have successfully obtained jobs and a residence permit.

In general, we believe that everyone can find opportunities. You just have to look at the market soberly.

For example, an English teacher should definitely not look for himself in England, where they cannot compete with native speakers, it is better to consider Asia and other regions.

On experience, especially on the title of the last position on your resume. It should not be 100% the same as the direct translation from your employment history! For example, if you translate your position as "Leading Expert", you simply won't be understood. Every country and industry has a gradation of skill levels, e.g:

  • Intern (no experience)
  • Assistant (1-2 years)
  • Executive (2-4 years)
  • Senior Executive (4-6 years)
  • Manager (usually 5 years and above and under)
  • Senior Manager (usually 7 years)
  • Head of Department (usually 10 years or more)

In finance, consultancy or medicine, this gradation will be different.

It's best to analyse the open positions in your desired country: which of them have the most overlapping responsibilities with what you do right now in your current job? That's the name of your position, use that in your CV.

For international experience or education, plus English language skills. Here you can take the test and assess your chances of moving. International experience and/or certifications help a lot, and knowledge of English is one of the key parameters altogether.

For 'flexible' skills, especially communication, if you answer a question looking at the floor, or completely not smiling, it might even just humanly repel the interlocutor, because they are used to a different culture. And be sure to listen to the interviewer. If you are asked to give an example of a difficult situation in your current position, and you start listing all the problems in your 10 years of experience, it will also be seen as poor communication and an inability to hear the question.

"If a candidate says pass me water during an interview, the British interviewer will inwardly take a defensive stance. A person with a Slavic background might not see it as rude at all, but a recruiter with British roots will definitely be alerted to the lack of could you please in this sentence.

Andre Atalla, EP Advisory

- How do interviews work? What do you need to pay attention to?

- In general, there can be one or two to five interviews and the candidate's strategy can vary depending on who is interviewing him or her and what type of questions are asked.

For example, a recruiter (HR or recruiter from an outsourcing agency) doesn't make sense to list all the details of the technical side of your job, you can leave this as a trump card for the interview with the prospective manager directly. But communication and clear positioning when talking to the HR specialist will serve you well.

What the interviews can be


The goal of the company: to find out your salary expectations, your motivation, how soon you can start work and also to check you for obvious mismatches with the vacancy.

Your goal: show yourself as a friendly professional who likes the company. Don't list your entire history, answer questions about salary with a forked answer (from and to), and smile (even into the phone receiver).


The goal of the company: to get to know the job seeker as well as possible. Ask about facts from your CV, achievements, strengths and weaknesses.

Your goal: show how well prepared you are for this new position. Prepare an "elevator pitch" for 1.5-2 minutes, research the company and the job in detail, find as many parallels as possible between them and your experience.

Behavioural (competency-based)

The goal of the company: find out how you act in different situations, test your soft skills. Questions like: "What did you do when...?" or "Give an example of a situation where...".

Your goal: to show with real examples how you solved problems in your work/study. Prepare 10-15 stories in STAR (situation - task - action - result) format, so that you can get your bearings quicker.


The goal of the company: to make sure of your hard skills. This interview is no longer conducted by an HR manager, but by your future manager or a colleague from the team. It often includes a test task plus additional questions.

Your goal: to demonstrate knowledge. You may be expected to ask follow-up questions on the test task: for example, the project manager may ask you about the timing and budgets of the project. Try to keep your answers to 1-2 minutes and not to go completely "off the beaten track".


The goal of the company: to compare the behaviour of the candidates in the future role. Similar to a behavioural one, but with hypothetical questions. For example, may describe the same situation to several applicants and then compare their creativity, values, behavioral patterns.

Your goal: answer honestly and clearly, use the same STAR technique, and don't jump from one thought to the next.

Stress interview

The goal of the company: to look at your behaviour in a stressful situation. Artificially simulate uncomfortable conditions in the room: music, strong smelling food, molestation by the interviewer. Such interviews are infrequent (phew!) and only for certain professionals. For example, account managers.

Your goal: don't give in to panic. Gently ask them to turn off the music or finish their lunch and go back to discussing work issues.

- What should you do if you don't know the answer to the question asked at a job interview?

  • Give yourself a little more time: "This is an interesting question, please give me a minute to think about it."
  • Show that you understand the general principle. For example, say honestly that you don't know the configuration of a particular program, but in a similar software with a different interface, you can solve the problem like this.
  • Reflect aloud: "I am guessing that has to do with ... but I've never personally used it so I'm not entirely sure. Is that correct?."
  • Explain that this is what your interest in this position is all about - that you haven't encountered certain tasks yet, but want to develop in this direction and learn from the best.

To avoid getting too overwhelmed, remember: A candidate who knows absolutely everything about the position and can demonstrate all the skills can be considered overqualified.

An employer doesn't need you to be bored with the position after six months. So if you have successfully answered most of the questions, it's perfectly normal to admit somewhere that you are not familiar with the details.

- Is it compulsory to have a LinkedIn profile and how to design a good CV?

A LinkedIn profile is a must. Keep it as detailed but succinct as possible - for example, list your responsibilities and achievements at different jobs in a bulleted list rather than in long paragraphs of text. The headline, photograph, skills and references are very important sections.

Main differences of CV in most European countries from Russian one: you do not need a photo or personal data (date of birth and family status are to be removed urgently). Its length should not be more than 2 pages, and it should have a very minimalistic design (avoid asterisks, stripes and other creativity - it only makes recruiters' work more difficult).

At the very top of your CV it's best to have a Profile section, i.e. a 3-4 line description of your experience. This section can be adapted to each job, for example:

- If the employer indicates that they really want a marketer with experience in SEO and digital PR (and you have this experience), then the first line about yourself put the emphasis: A tech-savvy marketer with 4 years of experience in SEO and digital PR, ...

- If the employer says that most of the work and responsibilities will be in the planning and production of content, then start by saying otherwise: As an experienced content marketer, I have planned and produced all social media posts and blog articles for companies A and B.

Both are marketing jobs for which you are (let's assume) a great fit. But if you put an emphasis in the first line on exactly what clearly resonates with the company's requirements, you have a much better chance of being invited for an interview.

You can read even more information here:

A detailed account of how to complete each section of your profile

The tricks of the recruiting process and finding professionals through LinkedIn

All about writing a CV

By: Ksenia Elzes

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