5 Job Interview Survival Tips for Israelis

5 Israeli Job Search Survival Tips

Here are my top Israeli job search tips based on personal experience. Hope they help you or at least make you laugh!

Israel backpacker

This a guest post by Israel Weisser. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

Israel is unique in so many ways.

It has been a fulfilling, and at times challenging, experience to deal with many of the unique aspects of Israeli culture. Job search has been one of those “unique aspects” and it is fascinating to stop and observe the cultural differences between the interview experience Western immigrants are used to, and how job interviews are conducted in Israel.

I have found that instead of channeling those differences through frustration, it helps a lot to have a sense of humor.

Tip #1 – Dress appropriately

Tie and Jacket: Leave that tie and jacket at home! Don't even bring it to Israel unless you are planning on getting married (and even then, it's often optional). Israeli dress code is very relaxed; however do plan to be a little bit more dressed up than the interviewer. A pair of slacks and a nice shirt should do that.

Jeans: It is an interesting phenomenon I still need to understand, but wearing jeans in Israel is considered “business casual” and sometimes even “elegant.” Perhaps that's due to the cost of clothing here? My recommendation is to go with your Western definition of “business casual.”

Brand Awareness: Make sure you are not wearing a “crocodile logo” shirt if you are meeting with the “horseback sport logo” company. This applies to other products as well. For example, don't ask for an “X-Cola” if you are interviewing at the “Y-Cola” company. (Exception: If interviewing at a wine or alcoholic beverage company, the question “Would you like something to drink?” does not mean “Would you like an alcoholic beverage?”)

Tip #2 – Country size DOES matter

To many Israelis, traveling from one city to another is usually a 30 -minute drive.  Keep in mind that the “30-minute commute” concept holds true even when they are traveling to the U.S.

Expect a call saying, “We are visiting the U.S. next week. Can you get to San Antonio from Pittsburgh easily?”

Once, I did fly 6+ hours for a 45-minute meeting. Now that's what I call commitment.

Tip #3 – Interview etiquette redefined

Be there on time… so that you can wait. What do you expect about “Jewish time” in the Jewish state?

I recently read about Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (1849 – 1932) who joked: “If a person decides to meet at a certain specific time and he arrives at that exact time, I am afraid that he might have transgressed the prohibition against following in the ways of the non-believers.”

Well, don't worry about any transgression, you ALWAYS have to be there on time, although expect delays from the other party.

I'm actually writing this on my notepad as my wait for an interview approaches 45 minutes…

Turn your cellphone off… so that you don't interfere with the interviewer's cellphone calls: I would say each interview I've had has been interrupted by an average of 4 cellphone calls (not kidding), although there are always exceptions. Expect some email action as well.

Leave the kids at home: This was shocking but true. During two different occasions I had the interviewer's children interacting with us. During one of those interviews, I even provided my notepad and pen to entertain his kid at the coffee shop. I guess that answered the question regarding my problem-solving skills!

It's Mincha (prayer) time: I loved this one. My interview was halted so that we could head down to the building's basement to daven Mincha (pray the afternoon prayer). Was it a second round interview with “The Boss?” Was it part of the interview? I don't think so; however it definitely had a positive effect on my views of that company. I love this country!

It's not personal: There is no such thing as “personal questions.” It's all open here – How old are you? How many kids? Where are you from? Why did you make aliyah? Expect your handwriting to get analyzed by a graphologist. For a 3rd round interview, I was going to go through a polygraph (lie detector)! Too bad I didn't get to experience that one.

True story: As I entered the office of the interviewer, he looked at me with my kippah (skullcap) on my head. Before even shaking hands, he wrote on a paper and murmured loudly, “Israel W… Shomer Mitzvot (keeper of commandments i.e. religious)”… That was actually a compliment, although a potential lawsuit if it happened in the U.S. I definitely love this country!

Tip #4 – The Blind Interview

Blind date: I do not have any experience on blind dates; however I think I can be an advisor now. For research purposes of writing this blog post I read about blind dates and amazingly, they are the same as blind interviews.

Who to look for? Make use of Google and social networking sites to know what the interviewer looks like if possible. That can avoid many embarrassing moments, or it could lead you to getting a completely different job if you meet with a different (read: wrong) person. Trying to make eye contact with each lonely person at the coffee shop to check if he/she is your interviewer can send the wrong signal about what you are doing at the coffee shop in the first place.

Where to meet? The meeting place can be anywhere. The natural choice is their office or a coffee place. Some unusual places I interviewed at include: car dealership, a gas station convenience store, convention center, and a cousin's living room, with the entire family around to offer advice and opinions after the meeting.

Listen closely: On phone interviews make sure you pay close attention. That first sentence can often be crucial, and will probably be in Hebrew. So be prepared, especially if Hebrew is not your mother tongue.

True story

Translated from Hebrew to English for your enjoyment:

Phone rings…

Me: “Allo?”

Phone: “Mr. Israel?”

Me: “Yes?”

Phone: “We are calling from AT regarding the email you sent to us. Sorry it took us so long to get back to you.” (Note: It was never made clear exactly where they were calling from.)

Me: “Oh yes, of course. Don't worry about it. I'm sorry but I am about to sign a job offer with another company. If I had a little bit more time I would have loved to meet with you; however, I'm afraid at this moment I'm close to signing with this other company.”

Phone: “I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you mean. We are calling regarding the email you sent to us a couple of weeks ago for…”

Me: “Yes, I know but I'm trying to explain to you that…”

Phone: “Would you like us to get someone who speaks English?”

Me: “No! I can understand most of what you are saying…”

Conversation goes back and forth until…

Phone: “Are you still having problems with your TV connection to Cable? We are calling from AT.” (Note: HOT is an Israeli cable provider and it sounds like “At” when pronounced with an Israeli accent)

Silence…

Me: “Oh, mhhh, eeeh, yes, now I understand… No, no problems anymore with my TV.”

Phone: “Good luck with your new job.”

End of call.

Tip #5 – Know Your Holidays

Beware of the time before, during and after “the holidays.” This is the time between Rosh Hashanah until after Sukkot, usually around September-October time. Become familiar with the term “Achrei Hachagim (after the holidays).” Everything for about 3-4 weeks is halted until “Achrei Hachagim”, and then when “Achrei Hashagim” actually arrive, I guess it's time for everyone in the country to get all those things done, so you now need to wait another 3-4 weeks until it gets to a status of “Achrei Ha-Achrei Hachagim” (after the “after the holidays”).

I want to thank all the potential employers, headhunters and industry experts for their time during our many meetings and for providing material to choose from for this blog post. The post is not intended to harm anyone; it is intended to offer a humorous way of looking at our cultural differences.

About the Author

Israel WeisserIsrael Weisser, originally from Mexico, made aliyah from the U.S. in 2008 to fulfill his dreams with his wife and kids. He is an experienced marketer from well-known leading multinational companies and is currently looking for a job. He is also starting his first freelance job leveraging his marketing and multinational background, as well as his international network, to connect Israeli companies with the U.S and Latin-American markets. With only one year as a blogger, he has maintained family and friends up-to-date and entertained with his experiences in Israel at his blog, The Weissers' Journey to Israel.

This article is part of the 3rd Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest. If you want Israel Weisser to win, share this article with your friends.

Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter for more real world tips on finding jobs in Israel.

About the Author Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

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  • JUDITH says:

    Israel, as always this is an excellent blog
    Yudis

  • Shimon Lobel says:

    Israel, Do you have any experience with Medical devices in South America?

  • Bashe says:

    Israel, Do you have any experience with Medical devices in South America?

  • Ilana says:

    Very funny. Thank you for sharing! Can’t wait to hear more.

  • Reizl says:

    Isra, as always, you are amazing.
    Well done job!! Good luck

  • Stefanie says:

    Great read! Good job!

  • Shay says:

    Excellent blog! funny, creative, real… You are a great bloger Isra

  • zipi levy says:

    very funny and truth
    that’s Isreal rough and loving
    there is a sentene in hebrew that say :”keep me from my lover , I can take care from my enemy”
    good luck

  • Henry says:

    Israel, i did not know that you are such a good writer…. !
    See you soon…b’h 🙂
    Henry

  • Maya Bouhnik says:

    Take a look at this blog about a Israeli looking 4 a new job- nice!! http://bit.ly/Pdm5R
    #fb

  • David Corman says:

    Take a look at this blog about a Israeli looking 4 a new job- nice!! http://bit.ly/Pdm5R
    #fb

  • Nenette says:

    That’s cool observation and i love it! I love your humor. Keep blogging!

  • Oscar says:

    Well done Yisrael.
    What of the one about speaking quietly?
    If you shout you’ll be up against an expert (If s/he is a true Isreali).
    BeHatzlachah

  • judy says:

    Isra,

    Tienes un gran talento. Definitivamente los blogs y la sociología son lo tuyo.
    Con mucho cariño
    Good Luck
    Judy

  • dalia says:

    felicidades!! saludos dalia amiga de susy

  • RT @tallynetzer: very amusing RT @viviancohen: Reading good friend’s guest post – "5 Israeli job search survival tips" http://bit.ly/Pdm5R

  • Roje says:

    Cómo me reí con el HOT y el AT! Definitely Israelis! Saludos!

  • jane says:

    muy bueno isra

  • Naomi ( Yair and Avi's' grandma) says:

    Israel, While you are waiting for your dream job contact the Jeruslem Post there has to be a column on Alyiah that you can write!!!
    Best Wishes!

  • Deirdre says:

    Israel,
    Wonderful to hear from you and so glad to read your fun sense of humor has not diminished with your new venture! Hope all goes well and I look forward to many other difference and adventure blogs.

  • susy kravzov says:

    Hilarious!! It’s very entertaining and funny, and it lets you see the idiosyncrasy of the Israelis.
    Congratulations on your blog, it is great!!!

  • RT @jacobshare 5 Job Interview Survival Tips for Israelis | JobMob http://bit.ly/D2jUG

  • silvia weisser says:

    Isra:
    Don’t ever lose your sense of humor, it is so much fun reading your blog aside from giving good tips, it’s a special way of looking at things, which is one of your qualities, that is what makes you so special. I feel very proud of you, I feel blessed of having you as a son .G’bless you and your family. Love Mom.

  • Gail says:

    Israel, wonderful to hear from you! Glad to see you are keeping your head straight and your humor high while looking for a job. I think you definitely have a career in the making as a writer! Travel writer, business writer, culture writer. Check out some of the magazines for writers, which often contain ‘want ads’ for writers for niche markets. I just returned to the US from a 6-month consulting assignment in Switerland. Your blog gives me some ideas for recording my own cultural experiences, which were comparable to your own in terms of wackiness! Take care and keep in touch. Best rgds, Gail

  • Israel says:

    Thank you all for your comments and your support.
    Naomi, Gail, you might be right, maybe I should look into writing.
    Oscar, you are right, something I learned here is that at a meeting when there is an argument if one that does not aggresively talk back it means he/she is in agreement.
    Yudis, Bashe, Ilana, Reizl, Roje, Stef, Shay, Zipi, Nennete, Deirdre, Susy, Ma, Jane, Dalia, I’m glad you enjoyed the post thanks for stopping by. You even added some international flavor in there, was that Spanish? (just kidding).
    Henry, lots of things have changed in the last 17 years 🙂 looking forward to seeing you as well b’h.
    Cheers.

  • Erela says:

    Israel that was a very candid description of the differences that one can tear apart or help us mediate the difference that we hope our children will never experience. Thank you for the information. Cannot wait to join you in the fun of being at home and work with family

    Erela Plotkin

  • Miriam and Mark says:

    Very well done. Good, concise, and humorous. Thanks.
    Regards from all the Cohen-Melamed’s

  • PostRank – Career says:

    5 Israeli Job Search Survival Tips http://bit.ly/6wLVP #postrank #career

  • Ramy Fele says:

    Hola Isra: B”H
    I enjoyed it very much.You sure deserve to find a great job, either as a blogger,writer or a MKTeer(o como se diga). BEHATZLAJA RABA. Zai Gezunt
    Un ABRAZOTE DE Ramy

  • Jaya Fux says:

    You really made me smile….

  • Really enjoyable read @iweisser http://bit.ly/cfPxN 🙂 And thank you as well. @aril enjoyed it very much

  • Elie Klein says:

    5 Israeli Job Search Survival Tips: http://tinyurl.com/n7n8mq – Great read. (via @viviancohen @iweisser @aril)

  • 854 unique visitors in 36 hours can’t be wrong. You can also enjoy reading the blog or RT-ing it at http://bit.ly/D2jUG if you haven’t yet

  • daniel says:

    so true and exceptionally written!

  • Nurit says:

    Israel

    Tienes un gran potencial, esta muy bien escrito y realmente tienes una gran idea ahí. Estoy segura que hay muchas organizaciones que les interesarían anunciarse en tu blog (esa puede ser una buena opción).
    Cuídate mucho y gracias por compartir y hacernos reír un rato.
    Nurit

  • Chani from Pittsburgh says:

    Great blog, Israel !
    Very informative in a light-hearted, humorous manner. I love the parts about Mincha, The Boss, the Kipah, and, of course, the tie !!

    B’Hatzlacha !

  • Malka Stern says:

    I liked the lighthearted tone of your blogpost.
    So true!
    Keep them coming.

  • YANKL says:

    it is allways enjoyable to read all your ole jadash experiences, full with great sence of humor but as true as toire.

    mit atzloje kuñadujes.

  • ite says:

    Your experiences can be a good material for a reality show in Israel. Keep writing with your unique sense of humor because we enjoy reading them all and we learn from your experiences. Good Luck!!!

  • Diana Barforough says:

    It is great, very funny.

  • Kari Park says:

    Loved the blog.. very funny and interesting

  • Israel says:

    Thanks you. Gracias.

  • noemi levin says:

    israel:

    como siempre te felicito por tus maravillosos comentarios

  • Jessica says:

    Muy bueno gracias por las recomendaciones. Soy amiga de Susi

  • Elizabeth Johnston says:

    Stay off the job boards…the number one factor accounting for double-digit increases in the average length of unemployment is the reliance on job boards.

  • Leon Waisser says:

    Felicidades Isra: Muy interesante te felicito Leon

  • Andrew says:

    Wonderful i don’t think i can fail an interview with this knowledge you have provided.

  • Ilan says:

    ¡Estas muy chistoso Isra!, te mando un fuerte abrazo, y te deseo mucho mas exito del que ya tienes.

  • Israel ...otro más says:

    Hola, Isra, soy Isra… no, no es un amigo imaginario ni voces en la cabeza, soy Isra de P&G, recuerdas? Uuuuuuu!
    Felicidades, muy buen artículo. Me dibujó una sonrisa en la cara.

  • naama lazar says:

    Israel,
    Most enjoyable.Great sense of humor.
    בהצלחה in finding a job, if you haven’t found one yet. Best regards to Liora. The kids don’t know me…Naama and David

  • Veronica Gillians says:

    You certainly have a gift for writing. I look forward to being updated on your journey…Good Luck.

    Ronnie

  • Debleena Bhaduri says:

    Hi Israel,

    I found your article very entertaining indeed! Can you help with some advice? I am Indian (from New Delhi) and i recently visited Israel and fell in love with the country! I would love to find work there – how could one go about it? I am in design and communication, currently working with a very reputed FMCG company. Would appreciate some insight, thanks.

    Debleena Bhaduri

  • Israel Weisser says:

    RT @tweetmeme 5 Job Interview Survival Tips for Israelis | JobMob http://bit.ly/D2jUG

  • […] 1) Grand prize winner: Israel Weisser of The Weissers’ Journey to Israel with 5 Israeli Job Search Survival Tips […]

  • Maia says:

    I loved your story !! so real, so true !!Suerte con la busqueda de trabajo. Ve’atzlacha !!!

  • […] more insights into the Israeli workplace, read this interesting — and insightful — post by Israel Weisser. From my experience, I have […]

  • RT @jacobshare: 5 Israeli Job Search Survival Tips http://bit.ly/D2jUG

  • Sarit says:

    Hi Israel,

    I can understand you very well. I came to the US almost 3 years ago with my husband (he was relocated by an Israeli company). I’m now looking for a job and I’m having the opposite problems/experiences (how to dress, what to say, etc) in interviews.

    Have fun in Israel,

    Sarit

  • David says:

    This was hilarious to read. I guess in the US we are pretty up tight? 🙂 I guess my fav was tip 3: etiquette. Too funny.

  • Israel Travel | Flights to Israel | Israel Packages | Considerations says:

    […] more insights into the Israeli work­place, read this inter­est­ing — and insight­ful — post by Israel Weisser. From my expe­ri­ence, I have […]

  • michael ojegbe ideva says:

    I GREET YOU ALL IN THE MIGHTY NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
    MY NAME IS MICHAEL OJEGBE IDEVA AM A CARE GIVER, AM ALSO A BASIC AMBULANCE ASSISTANCE,A CERTIFIED FIRST AIDER,A BARBER,A SECURITY OFFICER,AND AN EXPERT IN MASSAGING IF NEEDED,I HAVE WORKED WITH NETCARE REHABITATION HOSPITAL IN JOHANNESBURG SOUTH AFRICA AND NAZARETH OLD AGE HOME IN YEOVILLE JOHANNESBURG SOUTH AFRICA BOTH WITH ELDERLY AND CHILDREN ,AM TALL AND RESPECTFULL TO MY BOSSES AM READY TO WORK ANY WHERE THIS IS MY NUMBER 0542844035.I NEED U TO TAKE ME TO MINISTRY OF INTERIOR SO I CAN SIGN A LONG TIME CONTRACT WITH U MAYBE TWO OR THREE YEARS CONTRACT WITH U. YOUR FATHER IS MY FATHER YOUR MOTHER IS MY MOTHER.LET US ALL TREAT OUR ELDERLY WITH JOY.MICHAEL OJEGBE IDEVA

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