INTERVIEWS / APR. 16, 2015
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What to Expect in a Job Interview in Dubai

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Job interviews can be stressful at the best of times, but attending an interview in a foreign country can be doubly so. As with all interviews, good preparation is the key to performing well and confidently. Here’s what to expect if you are interviewed for a job in Dubai.

See also: The Top 10 Highest Paid Jobs in Dubai

Walk-in interviews

The walk-in interview is a popular format used to recruit for many different vacancies in Dubai. Candidates are invited to attend for an interview on a set date provided they meet the criteria specified in the job advert. You’ll be asked to take along your CV together with a recent photo, and proof of your experience and qualifications. Walk-ins are usually the first stage in the screening process and may be followed by a second or more interviews. Occasionally, walk-in interviews are carried out by a panel.

What to wear

It goes without saying that you should look smart for your interview. Gents should wear a suit, shirt and tie. Ladies must be aware that Dubai is a conservative city and there are strict laws concerning dress. If you wear a business suit with a skirt, choose something modest that doesn’t ride up when you are sitting down. Your shoulders and knees must remain covered, and don’t have any cleavage on display. A smart trouser suit might be preferable, but make sure the trousers are a loose fit.  How you look is very important in Dubai. Wear discreet daytime makeup, manicure your finger nails and make sure your hair is well-cut and nicely styled. If you have long hair, wear it up.

Interview etiquette

You must arrive on time; it’s considered disrespectful if you turn up late. Don’t chew gum or smoke immediately before the interview as the smell will linger, and this can be off-putting for an interviewer.

Make sure you know the correct title of the person conducting the interview, their name and how to pronounce it. The UAE is an Islamic country and a handshake is not always considered appropriate. Members of the opposite sex might not want to shake your hand, and it’s best to wait for them to offer you theirs first and then you can follow their lead.

Allow the interviewer to initiate small talk and always be polite, not overfamiliar. If you’re offered coffee, tea or water, always accept it even if you don’t really want anything to drink. In Arabic custom, it’s considered very rude to refuse an offer of refreshment, and it will be a point in your favor if you can show that you are aware of local traditions. Always wait to be seated until you are invited to do so; sit up straight and don’t slouch.

When your chance comes to ask questions during the interview, avoid demanding details about remuneration, benefits or holidays. Although this is important information that you will want to find out, ask for details at a later date if you’re asked back for a second interview.

Interview technique

It’s very important to demonstrate your interpersonal skills during your interview. Your aim is to be interesting and charismatic without being too friendly or overfamiliar. Make consistent eye contact with your interviewer and be ready to listen as well as to speak.

Keep your answers concise and accurate. Give clear explanations and avoid simple “yes” or “no” answers. Don’t be tempted to chatter on too much; if you waffle, all your salient important points will be lost amid a sea of superfluous fluff. Always be totally truthful in your answers and don’t exaggerate your abilities; you’ll be found out very quickly if you tell the interviewer you’re very experienced in something that you’re not.

Avoid making negative or derogatory remarks about your current or former employers or colleagues. Disrespectful comments will not go down well. 

Dubai has a regional bargaining culture that applies in business as well as in the local shops and bazaars. Negotiation is acceptable and, to some degree, expected, but you must be able to back up your demands with good reasons and facts.  

See also: Living and Working in Dubai

When attending a job interview in Dubai, it’s important to be aware of the Arab culture and to respect it. As for the interview itself, be prepared with a good knowledge of the company and the role you’re applying for, and make sure you are confident and ready with good answers to the usual job interview questions that will be put to you.

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