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Top tips: Surviving a job interview in Spain

Alex Dunham · 6 Nov 2013, 18:23

Published: 06 Nov 2013 18:23 GMT+01:00

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The lingo: If the interview is in Spanish and you feel you need to brush up a bit on your spoken “español”, take on a language teacher to prepare questions and answers. It’ll pay off.

Preparation, preparation, preparation: Research the company and the person interviewing you through and through. “Nowadays Linkedin can be an excellent source of information,” says Abdona Fernández, director at Spain-based recruitment specialists I-Lumini.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: This may not necessarily apply to all companies, but Spain does have a reputation for being a country where having the right contacts can land you a job. “Check if you have any good contacts that can help you get your foot in the door,” Fernández suggests.

Dress to impress: “The recruiter will judge your appearance just as much as what you’ve written on your CV,” Fernández comments. Use your own judgement in terms of the degree of smartness required for the position: suit for corporate, smart-casual for media.

Keep your lips to yourself: Be confident yes, but don’t greet female interviewers with the standard two kisses you give your Spanish friends and family. Spain’s main broadcaster RTVE even suggests it should be the recruiter who initiates the handshake, and when you do give him five, make sure it’s a good, firm grasp.

Don’t go for “Spanish punctuality”: Jokes aside, the rules surrounding promptness at job interviews are pretty much international. “Arrive five to ten minutes before the scheduled time,” Fernández says.

Stress less: “We recruiters are human beings and we don’t bite!” Fernández jokes. “If we have closed an interview with you it’s because we think you are a good fit and thus want to know you better. So smile, look at the interviewer in the eye and don’t be nervous.

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Be all ears: “It’s been proven we only retain 20 percent of the information given in an interview,” Fernández told The Local.So apart from making sure you ask the questions you’ve prepared beforehand, listen out for other key points which you want clarifying or that may help strengthen your position. If Spanish isn’t your mother tongue, listen harder!

The tu or usted debate: The fact that Spanish has a formal form of ‘you’ can be a bit daunting when having to address the interviewer. “I started off with usted but the interviewer told me it was fine to address him with tu,” Barcelona-based Brit Rachel Simmons told The Local. The best bet is to follow her example, play it safe and if the employer tells you to use tu (tutear), then do so.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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