• Marisol Muñoz

Why Cultural Understanding is Vital When Interviewing Nearshore Candidates

Hiring nearshore talent has lots of benefits for US companies. Beyond the obvious savings in labor costs, employing skilled workers from Latin America allows for short travel times and easy collaboration in the same or similar time zones.

If your company has decided to pursue nearshore staff, an awareness of key cultural differences between North American and Latin American employees could be a deal-breaker.


So, if you want to land the perfect nearshore candidate for your business, we’ve listed some of the most important things for you to consider before the recruitment process.


Family First


The United States has one of the most individualistic cultures in the world. The country’s people celebrate, value, and encourage independence and career-mindedness across each of the fifty states.


For many US workers, especially young professionals, their career comes ahead of anything else in their list of priorities, including family. Though, in much of Latin America, including Mexico and Honduras, family is the biggest priority.


This cultural difference is one of the most important to understand if you’re looking to hire from the Mexican workforce. To make a Mexican worker feel valued and appreciated, you must be aware of their family unit and attempt to reestablish that “family feel” in the workplace environment.


Many of the most successful companies and managers across Mexico make a special effort to honor family celebrations like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Día del Niño (Childrens’ Day). Furthermore, it’s common to host social events and company-sponsored sports teams or events for colleagues and their families.


Of course, this sort of interaction is a lot more difficult following the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, it’s important to remember that your nearshore staff and their families together will eventually want to bond at face-to-face events. In the meantime, be prepared to organize remote team building and social gatherings.


Mexican management teams recognize the importance of recreating a close-knit family group where possible within their companies. So, as an employer, making an extra effort in social, family-focused events and building solid relationships will help with retention and loyalty.


Giving Feedback


In the US, feedback and criticism are part of everyday work life, and for good reason. A study of over 20,000 leaders in the US showed that the top 10% of managers who gave honest feedback had the highest percentage of staff likely to engage with them, demonstrating the importance of two-way engagement between staff and management.


If you are interviewing new potential workers from nearshore countries, it’s essential to discuss this style of working and gauge their experience with it. In Mexico, for instance, feedback or constructive criticism is a lot less common than in the US, as the tendency is to avoid confrontations.


If possible, explain to them that the company will provide training on giving and receiving feedback as it’s an integral part of their role. This proactive approach can go a long way to bridging the gap between the two different work cultures, especially if your candidate has worked for a US company in the past.


Ultimately, Latin Americans look to build close relationships in the workplace, so if you are upfront and honest with them from the interview onwards, it will benefit both the employee and the employer in the long run.


Management Styles


Latin American countries generally have a more hands-on management style akin to micromanaging in the US. In Honduras, for example, most decisions within a workplace are made by one person, with most staff unlikely to make suggestions or question the direction the manager has chosen.

To get the most out of a Latin American workforce, US managers may need to dictate more tasks, complete regular checks, and involve themselves in their staff’s work more often. Even so, it’s vital to align expectations from your side and train people on how to operate more independently.


As an employer of nearshore, Latin American workers, outline what you would expect from prospective employees before offering a position. Above all, try to show respect and understanding for their work culture while also coaching independence and proactivity in their new role.


Awareness and Clarity


The cultural differences between US and nearshore workers from countries like Mexico reflect wider societal differences between the nations. Despite the geographical connection, the culture and day-to-day experiences between most US and Mexican citizens are very different and just as apparent in the workplace.


If you want to take advantage of nearshore talent, having an awareness of these differences is a big first step. It’s also your responsibility to communicate effectively and make your candidate feel understood. If you’re clear with your expectations but have a genuine understanding of Latin American work culture, your business can enjoy the benefits this talented workforce has to offer.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

Marisol Munoz is head of Human Resources at Zventus, she is a leader with 7 years of experience in operations and leadership. She partners with our clients to help hire the talent they need to drive their business forward.


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