Cracking the overseas code

Q: I’m trying to start working in the USA. Now, I’m not a spring chicken student going over there for a summer or to hang around illegally for a few years. I’m 37, married with a young daughter, and my wife and I both want to move lock, stock and barrel. I work in a specialist area and I have had interest from a number of American employers. I’ve gone for two interviews and in both instances, I could do the job with my eyes closed. Yet, I didn’t get the job. Any idea why that might be? (DD, email)

A: Without being privy to every angle of your story, I will focus on three possible reasons on why you might not have have got either of the jobs.

1- There may have been better candidates in for it – recruitment is a function of supply and demand. You might well be excellent at the role, but there may have been somebody else in both instances who had more experience or skills than you;
2 – You were the best candidate – but you didn’t prove it in interview. An all-too-common scenario, alas;
3 – I have done some work with candidates here in Ireland preparing for a move similar to what you’re hoping to do. A question that has come up in a few interviews concerns what we will call ‘the flight risk.’ In fact, one Australian interviewer spoke frankly in a Skype interview: “We bring you down here, help you get legal, show you the ropes – and then six months later you’re gone off to work for another company.”

To deal with No. 1 first – there’s not a lot you can do if the best person turns up, does a good interview, and brings it home.

On No. 2 – did you convince the interviewer? Or did you leave good stuff about you outside the door? Many people approach interviews with the attitude that the interview panel should know the score simply by reading your CV – this leads to good candidates not getting the job. You must give the interview panel sufficient reason in the interview to hire you. If this happened in your case, you need to brush up on your interview techniques for future engagements. Google that term and you will find plenty of videos and articles to help you.

On No. 3 – interviewers might not be as explicit as our friend above, but it could well be a key factor. A flight risk is always a worry for an employer: add in a trip across the world, and all the other work they put into the successful candidate re-locating from Ireland, and you can see why they are extremely worried about wasting time and effort. They aspire to it being a long-term proposition.

In this case, you need to give the interview panel re-assurance. You need to let them know that you are looking forward to this opportunity and that you will show loyalty. You can never fully remove the flight risk from the equation, but, right throughout the interview, you should be dropping in sentences that show them you wish to get on board with them, and stay there.

Sli Nua Careers ( offer CV writing, interview training and mock interviews. They have offices in Mayo, Limerick, Galway and Dublin, and full online services at