Oyster's guide to evaluating global talent

Investing in the potential of global talent also means rethinking the norms and expectations for evaluating these candidates.

August 10, 2022
Oyster Team
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In recent years, the growing opportunities of global employment have meant that HR, talent acquisition and workplace teams are viewing their functions through an increasingly global lens.

To address critical skills gaps, talent shortages, and ambitious growth demands, companies are developing global recruitment strategies to reach and engage with talent worldwide. Investing in the potential of global talent also means rethinking the norms and expectations for evaluating these candidates. 

Taking a sharper look at the biases and processes that may disadvantage candidates from particular backgrounds is imperative—as is the need to better understand the nuances of engaging global talent. 

This is our guide to evaluating global talent, from attracting a globally diverse candidate pool to interviewing and addressing biases in the talent evaluation process.

Benefits of global employment 

Barriers like employment visas and permits, relocation costs, and less experience with legacy institutions have acted as obstacles for candidates hoping to enter roles based outside of their home countries. But, with global employment platforms like Oyster, bringing on talent located in other countries becomes an easier, faster, and more compliant process.

For talent located in cities and countries worldwide, there has never been a better time in history to seek career opportunities as a global knowledge worker. 

The ubiquity of digital and collaborative tools means that work can happen almost anywhere, regardless of timezone. Additionally, talent shortages in the West mean that global talent has the opportunity to reskill and upskill to meet evolving business demands and connect with employers who need to fill critical roles. 

For employers hoping to have a positive impact, one benefit of global employment is its potential to lower barriers to entry that have made it challenging for talent outside of traditional hubs to compete in the global labor market. 

It may be in our name, but with global employment, the world really is your oyster. Instead of just hiring from small and often homogenous talent pools in one city or region, talent acquisition specialists can find and engage diverse candidates with unique skills and experience. 

At Oyster, using our platform to bring on talent has meant that after just two years, our fast-growing team is now comprised of 72 nationalities (and counting!) spread across 60+ countries. The result of this is a diversity of experience, perspective, and skills in every business function. 

Even large corporations like Meta have reported increased diversity within their ranks because of new global and remote hiring practices. 

“For the first time, we’re hiring individuals who are fully remote and working from locations where we don’t have offices, increasing the diversity of our candidate pool and workforce,” explained Maxine Williams, Meta’s chief diversity officer in the company’s 2022 diversity report. 

But building globally distributed and diverse teams doesn't just happen overnight. Candidates within a global talent pool often have to go through a hiring process that is designed and conducted without them in mind. 

Evaluating global talent means understanding that a candidate’s path to a role might not be the same as that of another applicant. It also means meeting talent with empathy and care to ensure they are experiencing an equitable hiring process that allows them to showcase their skills, abilities, and potential.

Understanding the role bias plays 

Bias in the workplace is problematic, whether a candidate is a distributed employee or not. Unfortunately, 65% of tech recruiters say their hiring process is biased.

Biases represent preferences or prejudices and are often implicit or unconscious, offering unfair advantages or disadvantages based on circumstances irrelevant to a candidate’s suitability for a role. 

Biases are often held by individuals, however, certain organizational cultures may fuel particular biases and preferences. 

Some common biases that can influence a hiring manager’s perception of a candidate include: 

Name bias - Forming a perception of a candidate based on their name and the assumed ethnic or religious background associated with it. This is an unconscious bias that has been studied for years, resulting in revelations that candidates are either more or less likely to receive interviews based on the ethnic group a hiring manager associates their name with.

In-group bias - In-group bias occurs when a candidate is favored based on belonging to a similar group as the person in a decision-making position. For example, a hiring manager may find out that a candidate belongs to the same sorority or religious denomination as them. They may then show favoritism or express a preference for this candidate. 

Privilege bias - Privilege bias exists in many forms. It can include judgments based on the types of institutions a candidate attended or their perceived socioeconomic class or background. 

Addressing hiring bias with well-documented interview processes

“In the US, hiring managers and recruiters are accustomed to certain shortcuts; often these shortcuts are well-disguised biases,” explains Oyster Director of R&D Recruiting, Alec McKinley. 

“Examples include automatically greenlighting candidates from a well-known, prestigious company. When hiring globally, hiring managers and recruiters will more frequently encounter candidates from unknown companies or with different sets of experiences than they are accustomed to. If a company has a well-documented interview process with objective criteria to assess potential, it will help them run a fair interview process across the board and will ultimately empower them to find the amazing talent they need.”  

To help minimize bias, consider tapping a diverse hiring team or committee. Adding varied perspectives can help promote balanced viewpoints about candidates and identify where biased judgment calls have crept in.

Additionally, a structured interview process helps keep hiring teams on the same page and assessing candidates based on the same criteria. Having a standard set of questions and ideal competencies prevents interviewers from asking overly personalized questions that may reinforce or introduce specific biases.

Looking beyond a U.S.-centric view of hiring

For U.S.-based talent acquisition specialists and hiring teams, having an American-centric perspective of hiring is common and expected. 

But, as teams begin to engage talent in other parts of the world, this lens should expand, becoming more inclusive of cultural differences and country-specific norms.

“Hiring processes vary between companies and countries, and humans and their cultures vary too,” explains Global talent operations manager at Oyster, Stacey Slater. “A process and pace that may be acceptable in one country could be deemed unacceptable in another—so it’s about understanding your market and adapting where needed.

Stacey recommends “The Culture Map” as a resource for those working or hiring globally. “It provides a field-tested model for decoding how cultural differences impact international business.”

Some differences to look out for? Language and terminology are, of course, important (CV vs. resume, anyone?). Varying norms in communication styles and the length and pace of a process are also important. Even the types of questions an interviewer asks could go against what is considered “normal” in certain regions.

For example, one study found that in job interviews, “questions about personal values, opinions, and beliefs were more common in Taiwan (38.2%) and the U.S.(29.3%) than in Belgium (9.5%) or Russia (3.1%).” 

Though it is not imperative to overhaul your team’s entire interview process, it’s important to be mindful of these differences. As global employment continues to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity, recognizing and making space for subtle cultural differences in norms and expectations can make processes more accessible and easier to navigate for global candidates.

Inclusive hiring practices

Evaluating global talent can mean making small communication adjustments and increasing flexibility levels to create a process that is fair and accessible. The first step to a more inclusive hiring process is attracting resumes from a more diverse candidate pool. 

Sourcing and attracting diverse talent

Time zones are conceptually more important in a global employment context than specific countries, and Alec recommends posting jobs in a variety of locations (think 4-6 major metro areas in as many countries). Even then, don’t just rely on posting jobs in target regions.

Sourcing tools like LinkedIn Recruiter can also go a long way in helping to identify candidates with the skills you need in specific markets.

Writing inclusive job descriptions 

A job description is one of the first touch points a candidate will have with your organization. Evidence suggests that a candidate will spend just 50 seconds reading a job ad before determining they’re not a good fit for the role vs. 76 seconds if their skills are a match. 

An effective job description shouldn’t be a wishlist detailing hard-to-attain credentials and unrealistic expectations about experience level. Instead, focus on essential skills needed for the position. Avoid gendered language (“He will have 10 years of experience…”), requirements for “native” language capabilities, and other hurdles like excessive education requirements which are not relevant to the role and may act as a deterrent or barrier for global applicants. 

Embrace flexibility

Flexibility is crucial for attracting diverse talent and talent in different time zones.

When it comes to interviewing, consider requests that may make the process more accessible. For example, if a candidate is experiencing displacement, their internet might be too unstable to support a camera-on Zoom interview. Consider a phone call, if possible, or a voice-only call, which uses much less data.

Additionally, consider written and asynchronous exercises to account for time zone differences. This can also give the hiring manager a glimpse into how the candidate might communicate with their team in a distributed environment where async tools are commonplace. 

Put together a diverse hiring panel 

As previously mentioned, putting together a diverse hiring panel will enable teams to assess a candidate from several perspectives. It may also help to challenge consensus decisions made around shared unconscious biases.

For example, two interviewers may dismiss a candidate for a marketing specialist role because they haven’t had specific B2B SasS experience in their home country. However, perhaps a third interviewer can add perspective. Maybe they’ve had a similar career journey and can point out the candidate’s transferable skills, commitment to collaboration, and potential for mentorship.

Interviewing for potential

When interviewing global talent, consider the distinct experiences, perspectives, and long-term benefits potential talent may offer, even if they don’t fit the profile of a “traditional” candidate. 

“Inclusive hiring practices help you tap into a wider talent pool, making it easier to hire quality candidates quickly, even for niche or hard-to-source roles,” says a recent Korn Ferry report. “This could mean looking for talent in non-traditional places or dropping traditional qualification requirements that may disproportionately exclude underrepresented talent. What is important now is how quickly a person can learn and how agile they are to meet the evolving needs of the marketplace—not where they studied for their degree.”

Learn how to review a resume and interview for potential, advises Eryn Marshall, Global Talent Acquisition Director.

“Oftentimes, candidates in emerging markets won’t have had the opportunity to work for a company like yours, so it’s important to understand what experience is absolutely non-negotiable and what can be learned. Identify the behaviors that are key to success in the role and interview for those,” she advises. 

Consider a candidate’s potential for mentorship, both formal and informal. If an employee with less experience but great potential can be connected with someone further along in their career, there is an opportunity for growth and high engagement. This is something that can ideally be factored into a hiring decision. 

Think “culture add”

“They weren’t a good fit for our company culture” can mean a lot of things and nothing at all at the same time. A company’s culture is the combination of the processes, behaviors, and values that it encourages and upholds. A positive culture will value collaboration, communication, inclusivity, and respect. 

Unfortunately, as Alec points out, culture fit can sometimes be a code for “does this person conform with my biases around what sort of person does/does not work here?”

Hiring on a global scale means creating a company culture with inclusivity at its core. Instead of focusing on whether someone will “fit in,” hiring managers and recruiters should focus on traits that add to a culture of inclusivity. This means looking for:

People who often mention teamwork/collaboration
People who show interest in the mission of your organization
People with strong communication skills 
People who are kind and demonstrate empathy

Remember, culture is not a shared experience of education, appearance, or upbringing. Culture in the workplace is the environment that employees experience and contribute to each day. 

Nevermind the (employment) gap 

It’s fairly obvious that people take employment “gaps” or breaks for all sorts of reasons. Health and wellbeing challenges, education and reskilling, caretaking responsibilities, and displacement due to conflict in their region are all common reasons that a candidate might have taken time out of the labor market. 

Linkedin research found that 62% of respondents in a recent survey said they’d taken a break at some point during their career. 

“I think it’s important to normalize gaps in resumes,” says Eryn. COVID layoffs, childcare constraints, burnout, and the “Great Resignation” have made resume gaps more common in recent times, she explains. 

“Whatever associations hiring teams ascribe to them are ultimately the result of biases,” adds Alec.

A candidate’s suitability for a role is less about whether they’ve maintained continuous employment over a certain period of time and more about whether their skills and competencies align with the role and whether there is potential to grow into a position. 

Adopting this view could help make global employment more accessible to parents returning to the labor market, refugee talent, older candidates, talent who have reskilled, and neurodivergent talent. 

Using Oyster to bring on global talent

Once you’ve found the right global talent and evaluated their skills and potential, bringing them onboard with Oyster is the easy part. Oyster handles contracts, compliance, and benefits while your team focuses on supporting talent wherever they may be. 

To discover how you can bring on global talent with Oyster, get in touch with one of our global employment experts.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform that empowers visionary People Ops leaders to manage and care for a thriving global workforce. Through its compliant hiring process, streamlined payroll, and localized benefits offerings, companies can bring talent aboard no matter where they're located.

To learn more, check out our Global Employment Assistant: a personalized guide to the tools, resources, and information you need to start building a thriving global team.




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