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How is hiring and interviewing different in the UK than the US?
April 25, 2013 9:11 AM   Subscribe

I may be hiring a couple software engineers in the UK this year. What should I expect to be different from the US?

How are British resumes different from American? Are the steps similar (eg phone screen then two rounds of in-person interviews)? Are there cultural things about the content, length, etc of interviews that are substantially different? Should one expect British interviewees to be interviewing the employer to the same degree you'd expect in America? At what point is salary discussed, and how much negotiation is expected? Are references handled similarly?

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you are a US employer, potential UK hires (particularly in software engineering), will be familiar with US hiring practices and you should proceed as you normally would. Salary discussions are the same as in the US in my experience.

Resumes are called CVs and as in the US have traditionally been organised either chronologically or in a skills-based format.

You are not allowed to ask about age, marital status, children, health or disability, or for social media passwords.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2013

i might add that the traditional way to FIND potential hires is through an agent and not in the more common ways of the US. you hire and agent and they have a pool... instead of you put up an ad somewhere, people troll it and reply which would be the US method.
posted by chasles at 10:27 AM on April 25, 2013

You may not receive thank-you emails after interviewing them, this is normal for the UK. If you do receive them it's likely that they know that Americans customarily send them.

The interview process is more or less the same, yes. References are handled the same way.

If you do things like routinely drug screen your employees, which I should hope you do not, be aware that this may not be permissible and is certainly not considered normal in the UK.
posted by atrazine at 10:38 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

on the flip side there are things that are disclosable in the UK that are customarily not talked about in the US. As I assume you'll stick to US best practice on issues like that, you will probably only rub up against that when reviewing CVs. Also Resumes/CVs will generally be longer than the US equivalent.
posted by JPD at 11:01 AM on April 25, 2013

You may encounter unusual frankness and what could be perceived (by you) as negativity. I have both been interviewed and been an interviewer and it is far more common in interviews in the UK for both parties to discuss challenges and problems, often in some detail. The whole 'never say anything negative' rule doesn't really hold - there is a lot of room to constructively criticise and work through the full spectrum of experiences around previous roles. So when a Brit says something that makes you think 'wow, that sounds kind of negative', try not to dismiss it immediately, rather listen to the point they are trying to make.

This is not to say interviews are a bitchfest, just that relentless, unbroken positivity will ring false for many British interviewees.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:39 PM on April 25, 2013

Honest opinion - get some limited professional advice if the proposed offer of employment falls under UK employment law (or even perhaps to tell if it does). The Guardian article above is good, but doesn't, for example, cover discharge of criminal records, candidates with unusual immigration status under EU right-to-work legislation or obvious disability at interview. Approaches to all these issues are not deducible from experience with US employment law.
posted by cromagnon at 6:33 PM on April 25, 2013

I don't know US practices... so this may all be in common with what you already know.

There's a variety of ways the process will run: phone interview followed by one or two interviews wouldn't be surprising. If you're doing this remotely it wouldn't be unusual to create a screening test. I've seen the screening test placed before the 'phone portion and after the 'phone portion.

In terms of the length of interview, I've seen a few different things. I wouldn't expect to spend more than a couple of hours on one interview: unless that included additional aspects (like a tour, or lunch or something). Just make it clear to the candidates what to expect before they turn up.

Many computing jobs are via agencies these days, so it might be worth looking into whether an agency could help (and offer advice on employment practices here - given cromagnon's advice ).

Most places I've been have given a ballpark salary at the point of advertising the vacancy (see this link for software engineers on an agency website - note: I've never used this agency, just used them as an example) but not all places do. The salary could come up again in interview if it's important, and negotiation would typically happen at the point you made an offer to a candidate.
posted by SuckPoppet at 7:23 AM on April 26, 2013

I would just repeat the point that thank-you notes following an interview are absolutely not expected in the UK, so don't feel slighted when they fail to materialise. :-)
posted by Decani at 8:39 AM on April 26, 2013

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