Make your overseas experience relevant to New Zealand

Many New Zealand businesses value work experience gained in New Zealand. This is because it can show that you are familiar with Kiwi ways of working and you may require less training when you start with the company.

You may only have experience working for companies overseas. You need to think about how to communicate to your interviewer that your experience outside New Zealand is valuable to them. There are many skills that you gain from overseas work experience that are helpful to an employer. These include an international perspective, different approaches to problem solving and new ideas and techniques that may not be used commonly in New Zealand.

Volunteering is a great way to understand how New Zealanders behave at work. 

This scenario shows you a way to communicate the benefits of your overseas experience. 

In which answer does the applicant communicate their experience in the most effective way?

I see you don’t have any New Zealand work experience.

I like this answer. I now feel more relaxed about employing someone who has not had the identical training and experience of a New Zealand engineer. His experience in Argentina could be very useful to us.

You know, I have had lots of experience with very important companies in Europe and South America. My qualifications are from the best university in Spain. I know I can do this job.

He seems a bit upset. What would he be like to work with when we are under pressure? I am not convinced that his work experience is enough to enable him to fit in easily here. Management styles are different in many countries, and he might not be used to the New Zealand way.

No, I’m sorry. I haven’t worked in New Zealand.

I am not convinced that he can manage a job in New Zealand without any experience here. He might need a lot of training and we can’t afford that. How will he get on with clients and the team?

Migrant: I can see that the interviewer is worried that my overseas experience is not relevant and that maybe I will need a lot of training. I need to recognise the concern behind the statement and reassure her.

Migrant: “That’s true. However, I have worked in many English speaking counties with very similar engineering codes to those in New Zealand. The most recent role I had in Argentina was closely related to this position. I have checked and my qualification from Spain covered the same basic areas as the New Zealand degree. Since I arrived in New Zealand I have enrolled in training seminars to update myself with the New Zealand context.”

Employer: I like this answer. I now feel more relaxed about employing someone who has not had the identical training and experience of a New Zealand engineer. His experience in Argentina could be very useful to us.

Migrant: What is so important about New Zealand experience? I have excellent qualifications and experience from other countries.

Migrant: “You know, I have had lots of experience with very important companies in Europe and South America. My qualifications are from the best university in Spain. I know I can do this job.”

Employer: He seems a bit upset. What would he be like to work with when we are under pressure? I am not convinced that his work experience is enough to enable him to fit in easily here. Management styles are different in many countries, and he might not be used to the New Zealand way.

Migrant: She is right, and I don’t know how to answer this question.

Migrant: “No, I’m sorry. I haven’t worked in New Zealand.”

Employer: I am not convinced that he can manage a job in New Zealand without any experience here. He might need a lot of training and we can’t afford that. How will he get on with clients and the team?

Up next

Show that you can work in a New Zealand way

In an interview, it is helpful to show that you can fit in with the New Zealand way of working. Status is not as important as in some other countries, and workplaces are often more informal and friendly.

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