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Psychologist Has A Template For Successful Expats

You might like to think you are an individual making your own career choices – but new research argues expats are a predictable bunch and display several common key characteristics.

In fact, the best performing expats have a typical personality profile which employers can test for during recruitment.

Psychometric consultants Cut-e claims to have identified the successful expat profile and developed tools for testing if job candidates will fit the mould.

“Our study reveals that top performing expatriates have a specific profile,” said Dr Katharina Lochner, research director at cut-e.

“They understand that pressure can be a strong motivator, so they’re prepared to put time and effort into challenging tasks, and they’re not overly concerned with the aesthetic aspects of their workplace, which probably helps them to adapt more easily to a new environment. They also feel empowered to organise their own work and take initiative when appropriate.”

Testing attitudes

“Cut-e’s study, which builds on previous research, highlights that psychometric testing can successfully assess the personal characteristics required for success.”

Lochner says psychometric testing coupled with a personality questionnaire will help businesses select expats who are likely to cope with both living and working overseas.

“Sending employees to live and work abroad involves a significant expense, so organisations have to look beyond the technical skills of candidates and ensure that they’re choosing the right people for the right reasons,” she said.

“Our research identifies what it takes to succeed as an expatriate. We’ve also created a model which can predict whether someone will adapt well to a new culture, perform as expected, cope with the personal and professional challenges, manage their own stress level and be satisfied working abroad.”

Qualities employers want in a successful expat

Lochner monitored 35 expats who had completed assignments overseas to find out what makes a successful expat and how to identify the qualities.

She found that expats who performed well at work demonstrated three factors –

  • Performance – comprising initiative, cultural awareness and managing stress
  • Success – measuring how much they enjoyed the expat experience
  • Communication – with colleagues and customers

“From this analysis, we can identify who will become a successful expat and introduces a model which can predict if someone will adapt to a new culture, perform as expected while handling the stresses and strains of living and working in a foreign country,” said Lochner.

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