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Job interviews are becoming demanding and intrusive. How can you adapt?

Experts say that employers and job seekers must navigate the multitude of challenges, discuss the limits of privacy, and identify skill sets.

Job interviews are becoming demanding and intrusive. How can you adapt?
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

For many of the jobs I have applied for, multitasking and multilingual skills were requirements. Then came the real shock: I was also asked about my marriage plans in one of my job interviews.

Now, as the job market becomes increasingly competitive, overly demanding skills become more prevalent.

Employers play a significant role in identifying and nurturing job seekers’ skill sets. The recruitment process should be designed to assess candidates’ technical skills as well as their soft skills and potential. 

Moreover, employers are responsible for upskilling their employees through training programs, mentorship opportunities, and career development resources. 

“Employers are ultimately responsible for outlining the requirements for the role they are hiring for. They will be expected to research to determine the required skills and competencies. It is common for candidates to address their skill sets on their LinkedIn profiles and CVs,” says April Kearns, Director of People and Culture at TishTash Communications.

“However, it is the interviewer’s responsibility to investigate if the candidate’s skills are to the required level. This is often done in the form of a task or a presentation and is an important part of the interview process to verify that the candidate is the best for the job,” Kearns adds.

Employers can utilize various tools and methods, such as skill assessments, behavioral interviews, and practical tasks, to comprehensively understand a candidate’s abilities, says Dr. Rommel Sergio, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at Canadian University Dubai. 

This makes it essential for employers and job seekers alike to navigate the multitude of challenges and discuss the limits of privacy for job seekers and the role of employers in identifying skill sets.


In today’s interconnected world, multilingual skills have become crucial assets for employers, specifically with globalization taking charge. As businesses expand their operations across borders, the ability to communicate effectively with clients, partners, and colleagues in different regions becomes an essential skill.

“Multilingual employees can bridge communication gaps, ensuring smoother transactions and fostering better relationships with international stakeholders. This capability enhances operational efficiency and provides a competitive advantage in the global marketplace,” says Dr. Rommel.

Another benefit for companies that employ individuals with multilingual capabilities is the ability to cater to a broader customer base. In the Middle East, where expats comprise most of the population, this is paramount as it allows organizations to tailor their services to meet diverse markets’ linguistic and cultural preferences, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Furthermore, Dr. Rommel shares that multilingual employees bring cultural awareness and sensitivity, critical in understanding and addressing clients’ needs from various cultural backgrounds.

For example, the UAE is home to 9 million expats, so multilingual skills shine bright in employment. Countries in the MENA region have been working to establish themselves as business hubs, which again requires strong multilingual skills. 

“Employers with a diverse and multicultural workforce are going to equip themselves with employees who are able to support the vision of economic diversification,” says Kearns, as this can boost creativity, foster an inclusive environment, and enrich the employee experience.

“It is an extremely attractive skill to have if you are fully bilingual in Arabic and English, especially considering that many translation tools are yet to catch up with the many dialects of Arabic, so companies cannot rely on these alone,” she adds. 

However, she suggests that applicants who lack multilingual skills can overcome this challenge by keeping up to date with the latest translation and AI tools. Job seekers may also proactively approach this obstacle by enrolling in language courses, whether online or in person. 

“Showcasing language skills on resumes and during interviews can demonstrate a commitment to personal and professional development, making job seekers more attractive to potential employers,” says Dr. Rommel.


Some job postings overstep boundaries by asking intrusive questions, such as inquiring about pregnancy or marital status. This raises ethical and legal concerns.

Dr. Rommel says that the privacy issue for job seekers is a critical topic in the human resources realm. “Such questions can lead to discrimination and are often irrelevant to the candidate’s ability to perform the job. Addressing this issue requires a multi-faceted approach. 

Locally, regionally, and internationally, employers must adhere to ethical standards and legal regulations that protect the privacy of job seekers.”

Job postings should focus on skills, experience, and qualifications relevant to the position rather than personal matters. Meanwhile, job seekers should practice awareness of their rights and feel empowered to decline to answer questions that involve their personal matters. 

“HR professionals can play a pivotal role by educating employers and job seekers about appropriate and inappropriate questions during the hiring process,” adds Dr. Rommel.

Kearns proposes that if candidates are confronted with such a line of questioning in an interview, they could reply honestly or question if the private questions are relevant to the job and how so. 

“Employees should remember that during an interview, they are also interviewing the company and can assess whether these questions are being asked with good or bad intentions,” says Kearns. 

Overall, the modern job market demands a nuanced approach from job seekers and employers. While multilingual skills are increasingly important for employers and offer significant advantages in a globalized business environment, job seekers can overcome this challenge through dedicated learning and practice. 

Meanwhile, job seekers’ privacy must be respected and adhered to, and employers must focus on relevant qualifications rather than personal matters, experts say.

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Suha Hasan is a correspondent at Fast Company Middle East. More

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