Predicting who will be a successful expatriate

To determine the ‘success factors’ for expatriates - and to understand which individuals will be able to adapt best in a new country in the future - this research study has identified the personal characteristics of returning expatriates that can predict success. This report summarises the study and highlights a best practice model.

Like Comment

I have always admired people that you might describe as "successful expatriates." They just seemed to have certain characteristics that I felt made them really cool people.

Having been an international relocation counselor for a number of years who supported employees and families heading off on expat assignments, I felt from the first phone call like I could tell whether someone was going to be successful or really struggle with the experience. While I was always trying to find ways to really provide helpful support, I knew that ultimately while I could alleviate many of the challenges of getting them there and back, while on assignment they were going to be immersed and would draw on their own personal and family resources. A new study has some really interesting insight on the specific profile of a successful expatriate.

What are those characteristics?

  • emotional stability
  • openness to change and an ability to adjust/adapt to different customs, perspectives and business practices
  • cross-cultural interest and sensitivity
  • very strong interpersonal skills
  • flexibility
  • resiliency
  • respect for diverse viewpoints
  • a high level of autonomy
  • and...a sense of humor

As expatriate assignments are both challenging and expensive, maybe more companies should consider psychometric assessments to help select and/or support their expatriates.

"Psychometric assessments that provide insights into job-related values, motives and interests can help you to select the right candidates for expatriate assignments," said Marinus van Driel, director of professional services for cut-e US. "With these insights, you can ensure that the expectations of both the individual and the organization are met, and that both parties benefit from the opportunity."

The biggest pushback that I hear from corporate clients is that costs are an issue and, while I do understand that, maybe adding these to your expatriate management program could actually save you money? That is where more metrics would help support that proposition.

Chris Pardo, GMS-T

Vice President, Global Services , Plus Relocation Services


Go to the profile of Brenda Harrington
Brenda Harrington over 3 years ago

Hi Chris, I agree with you 100% ! Candidates selected for expatriate assignments and the companies that sponsor them sometimes don't know what they don't know. Challenges that can interfere with a person's ability to complete an assignment successfully can be very complex, and not easily articulated by the assignee or the employer. This is where the science behind assessments can really be quite valuable. It is hard to solve a problem when you don't even know what it really is. The ROI of incorporating an assessment into the candidate selection process can be significant, providing substantial short and long-term payback when it yields information that makes the difference between assignment success and assignment failure.