Sourcing and Screening Foreign Nationals

Last Updated on March 13, 2023

When it comes to inbound immigration, sourcing and screening foreign nationals are two of the first and most important steps in the hiring process. Without both of these critical stages, you won’t know whether or not prospective candidates from abroad are also quality candidates.

We sat down with three HR and Recruiting experts to ask what they recommend when it comes to sourcing and screening foreign nationals for your company. Read on to learn what they had to say:

Universities: An untapped talent pool for sourcing foreign nationals

Pete Radloff, a technical recruiter for comScore, suggests sourcing and screening foreign nationals from U.S. universities.

“Work closely with four or five key schools to hire top-notch international talent in your industry,” Pete says.

By creating and investing in relationships with career services and alumni groups at target schools, you gain access to foreign students currently studying in the U.S., as well as talented alumni who may be working back in their home countries.

“When a school understands what your company is willing to do for new hires, they will often help you communicate more efficiently with students and alumni candidates,” Pete adds.

Foreign students may not trust calls or messages from an unknown recruiter. By working with or through the university, you’re able to gain a valuable recommendation or referral. This added trust helps the prospective student open up to the idea of interview and possible career with your company.

Employer Branding: Getting foreign nationals to want to work for you

Jennifer Davis, a senior director of people strategies for Epsilon, recommends developing your company brand locally. By locally, Jennifer means local to where the foreign talent is.

Work with a local PR firm or interview already sponsored employees to learn best practices for posting job openings and sourcing top talent in their home countries. This information can help influence when and where to advertise and how to get people looking at and talking about your brand.

“I’ve recruited heavily in India, and I learned that is the premier job board. That’s where you find seasoned technical workers. LinkedIn works well for senior-level management professionals, while Monster is more for junior-level people. In America, Monster is a generalist job board and for fresh college grads,” Jennifer comments.

To make an impression Jennifer also suggests investing in recruitment marketing. If you don’t sponsor posts or promote your brand, your job opening won’t reach the eyes of the qualified foreign nationals you’re hoping to reach.

Get creative and think outside the box, as well. “We did more with print ads than we would do in America — like the Indiatimes, for instance. It was big stuff. It doesn’t make sense here in the United States, and you wouldn’t put out an ad, but there you would.”

Essentially, if you have strong, reputable brand awareness – rather than you having to seek them out – foreign nationals will begin actively search and apply for open roles within your company.

Interviews: The best time for screening foreign nationals

Carmen Hudson, a principal consultant of sourcing and social media strategy for Recruiting Toolbbox, offers advice for properly screening foreign nationals.

As a first step, Carmen suggests spending at least 20 minutes studying up on a prospective new hire before their interview takes place.

“Successful interviews of any kind stem from preparation. Whether it’s a domestic or an international candidate, hiring managers must get to know the person in front of them.”

Further, you should define what you’re looking for in the candidate and make sure you ask enough questions to gather whether they check all the right boxes. When it comes to screening foreign talent, some skills can get lost in translation.

Don’t be afraid to repeat questions or ask the same thing a different way to gain a better understanding of what they’re trying to convey and to ensure you truly get what they’re trying to say. If the candidate isn’t a well-versed English speaker, don’t pass on them because of a language barrier. Instead, send follow-up questions via email and consider investing in English courses for the prospective candidate if they meet all other qualifications.

What comes after sourcing and screening foreign nationals?

Last week we tipped you into how data can help you recruit foreign nationals and next week we’re talking employee retention. Keep an eye out for our upcoming post on best practices for keeping talent you’ve brought through the door.

Or, download and print our complete Hiring a Foreign National Employee: Sourcing and Screening Guide to have 24/7 access to a comprehensive resource on hiring and retaining global talent.