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#WantedlyMeetup Recap: How to Hire and Manage Intercultural Teams

Sometimes, the best talent for your team might not be around the corner, but in a very different country entirely. At our last Wantedly Meetup, we discussed how to best attract, hire and manage international talent. We were lucky to welcome two great speakers: Matthias Schmeißer from Zalando and David Kremers from Berlin Partners, who shared their experiences and visions with us.

As we're always trying to combine expert input with a good discussion, we took our Q&As to a different level: in addition to asking questions on the spot, we set up a channel on Jodel where guests were able to raise thoughts and questions during the presentation. They were then discussed online as well as in the Q&A session with our speakers.

For those of you who couldn't attend our November meetup or who'd like to refresh their memory, we've put together the most important takeaways.

Attracting, assessing and hiring international talent

Matthias Schmeißer is the Product Design Recruiter for Zalando in Berlin. Being an experienced recruiter on international playground as well as an employer branding expert, he was able to share some helpful insights and experiences with us on how to best attract and identify talent across countries.

Key principles of attracting international talent

First, he introduced us to the key principles of attracting international talent. These can be categorized into five main points:


  1. Attention - in order to get noticed internationally, you have to stand out from the crowd and build a strong employer brand. Through emotional engagement and storytelling, companies can connect with potential candidates and establish trust and a close relationship.
  2. Persuasion - Once you've caught your candidates' attention, you have to communicate why it would be great for them to join your team and company. Especially when moving abroad, candidates have to be really sure that they are making the right decision and that it's worth the effort. Matthias stressed the importance of communicating honestly and showing your company culture in a transparent, authentic way to manage expectations from the beginning on.
  3. Conversion - turning a candidate into a new team member should be an easy, effective and ubiquituous experience. Try to make the process as smooth as possible and support the candidate in any problematic matters that might occur, e.g. visa applications and relocation.
  4. Experience - Matthias pointed out that employee experience already starts at the recruitment process. Open and transparent communication, support and a great onboardning experience comprise early factors determining the success of a hire.
  5. Measurement - as with any other process, international hiring efforts should always be measured and consequently optimized.

Building a strong employer brand

Zalando is a great example of a company which has built both a well-known (consumer) brand, but equally attracts a vast amount of applications thanks to their strong employer brand. Showing the personal side of their teams and offering authentic sneak-peeks behind the scenes are some of many strategies Matthias presented.



Having a strong employer brand also helps companies to convert passive job seekers: 87% of employees say they would leave their current job for a company with an “excellent” employer brand. As referrals have been proven to lead to the most successful hiring results, being able to convince passive candidates is essential, especially if hiring internationally. Moreover, working for a reputable and attractive employer leads to candidates accepting 10% less in salary compared to companies with less strong brands.

Assessing international talent

If you're already in the position of receiving applications from promising talent, you're now confronted with the challenge of having to assess whether the candidate is a good fit for your team and the tasks they will be given. Rather than just looking at their CV, Matthias suggests that there are better and more effective ways to identify a great candidate.

Previous working experience is one of the weakest indicators for future job performance. Biases around resumes are tremendous, as shown by the case of Amazon and their AI solution. While work behaviour is really just the tip of the iceberg, there is much more that needs to be unravelled and discovered in a candidate, such as their acquired capabilities, their personality, interests, skills and abilites.

Companies should therefore look at the competencies needed to be successful in the job. These should be assessed by questions that indicate if the candidate has the competencies you are looking for, while making sure to both focus on (social) skills and specific experiences or hard skills.

In order to do this, Zalando use these three methods:

  1. Work sample tests
  2. Tests of general cognitive ability
  3. Structured interviews

Creating a candidate focused hiring process

As mentioned earlier, the employee experience already begins with the recruiting process. Matthias therefore drew our attention to the question of whether our hiring processes are really focussed on the candidate, rather than then company's needs.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What does your recruitment process looks like?
Can your organization satisfy candidates' needs? Are you a talent advisor?
How well do you know the talents you hire?

Asking the right questions, offering help and advice where needed and really understanding the motivators of a candidate to move country and join your company are essential to truly function as a talent advisor and create a great employee experience from the very beginning on.

Especially when hiring internationally, providing a smooth and effective hiring and onboarding process are essential to turning your hire into a successful and happy team member.

This point was at the center of the presentation of our second speaker, David Kremers from Berlin Partner. Berlin Partner offers a set of services and guidance to companies which are hiring talent from abroad.

Providing a smooth relocation service for international talent

Successfully relocating international talent can pose a challenge for many companies, especially if they haven't done this frequently yet. This is why Berlin Partners, in association with institutions like the IHK, Ausländerbehörde and the Bundesagegntur für Arbeit, offer help and advice to simplify the process of relocating and integrating international talent to Berlin.


David Kremers, presenting Berlin Partners


Their services range from business immigration services, dual-career programmes to help families and couples establish a career and integrate successfully, welcome packages to provide an overview of German institutions, tips for everyday life and helpful advice and offers around Berlin, welcome tours as well as a welcome app. With their talent and job portal, they even help you become more visible internationally, as you can join them in their overall campaign to advertise Berlin as a great place to live and work.

If you're interested, feel free to check out their website for all information!

A place to connect and share ideas

After two great presentations and a vivid (virtual and live) discussion with our speakers, everyone had the chance to exchange ideas over beer, wine and tasty food. We had a great time connecting with bright minds and sharing interesting ideas - and would love to see you in January for our next event!

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