Tue, 31 Jan 2023

Having a job interview can be daunting enough as it is, but what if you'd like to work in Russia? Here's what to expect from employers, according to our readers.

Charles Berman (the U.S.): "No psychological questions"

Personal Archive

I'm an online English teacher from Binghamton, New York, USA. In 2018, I applied for and got a job with an online English school based in Russia and the main thing that surprised me the most: no psychological questions - only questions about qualifications, experience, techniques and approach to work. For someone from the U.S., this was a very pleasant surprise.

The interview was practical and clear. I was asked about my experience. I was asked to describe my approach to the job. I gave a sample lesson to the interviewer, which demonstrated my way of working and competence. And I was asked to explain an English tense in the interview, which proved I actually understood the grammar I would be teaching.

American interviews involve a lot more psychological questions, such as: "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" "What is your greatest weakness?" "Why do you want to work here?" etc. I much preferred the Russian interview. In the American interviews, I am always aware that the interview expects me to give a prepared answer tailored to the expected questions. They also expect candidates to praise themselves to a certain extent. In the Russian interview, I felt more that I could be honest and did not have to be artificially boastful.

Hunter Cawood (the U.S.): "Are you an American spy?"

Personal Archive

After I graduated with my masters degree from St. Petersburg University, I applied for a job doing international business development with a Russian company based in Moscow. It was 2019. The first and second round of interviews went great. That led to the third round, which was a lie detector test. The company hired a former FSB employee who I met near a shopping mall in Moscow. They led me up to an office building where they hooked me up to a lie detector. After asking me a few basic questions to establish a baseline, they asked me, "Are you an American spy?" Long story short, I didn't get offered the job. Draw your own conclusions... And yeah, I ended up getting another job with another Russian startup doing robotic process automation.

Radha Zaveri (India): "It's not impossible"

Personal Archive

It's my 4th year in Russia and I have had amazing interviews. It's not impossible to get a job if you have the right qualifications and skill set.

I'm an EYFS [Early years foundation stage, for children between birth and 5 years old] teacher with 20 years of experience and I applied for a job in Russia in 2019. I gave a remote interview, since I lived in India and the process was very simple. I can't say that something in the interview process was different - I gave an interview as I would give to other countries. I think being yourself is essential.

Bob Lemmens (Canada): "You must have a unique skill set"

Personal Archive

In 2010, I was contacted by an American company that set up a joint venture with Lukoil Western Siberia. They were looking at finding a General Manager (General Director) to manage the JV [joint venture]. I went to Russia to meet with them in Moscow and, later, to visit the plant in Kogalym. There were a lot of questions regarding the experience managing a chemical production facility (engineering background, financial knowledge, capital expenditure, project management, lean manufacturing, if I could adapt to the culture, etc.) At the time, I was managing a Chemical plant in Canada that was very similar to the one in Kogalym. The interview process also included a background check. Once all the parties agreed, we signed a contract and I went to Kogalym. I spent 3 months shadowing the General Director and took his position for 3 years. I didn't speak Russian, but I had a translator assistant.

To work abroad, you must have a unique skill to qualify. You need to find out what their long term or short term needs are and they need a lawyer with both Russian and European law experience. Working overseas or abroad looks exciting and exotic, but one must do his/her due diligence and find out if this is really for them. Working in Russia is not easy - it's a very bureaucratic, slow and rigid decision process.

I believe that highly-qualified technical people always have great opportunities to get jobs overseas. Just make sure to understand your contract. What the conditions are and how you want to get paid. If you intend to move there permanently... that is another topic!

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