If you’re an oleh chadash/new immigrant to Israel, have started your job search and were lucky enough to be invited for an interview, you know that the hiring process in Israel is different from anywhere else in the world.
In my opinion, there are few reasons for this:
- We’re the Start-up Nation (many are saying that we’re now becoming the Scale-up Nation. Have you seen how many IPOs have happened during 2021? And this year isn’t over yet!)
- Israel is a tiny country, and everyone knows everyone
- The army is compulsory for every citizen at the age of 18 – they learn at a very young age the importance of being accountable for their work
- Israelis have a very laid back culture – almost no hierarchy and no dress code
Below is my understanding of the typical hiring process in Israel (“worst case scenario”), from after you submit your CV to being hired. It’s important to emphasize that not all processes are the same, but I displayed all possible phases in the graph below.
In this blog post, I’ll write about each and every step of the recruitment process in Israel – what to expect, tips on how to be prepared and others.
Before we start, I just want to make sure you understood from reading the previous blog post the following that:
- You’ll prepare a customized CV for each position
- You’ll prioritize sending your CV through a connection (to be considered as a referral) before sending your CV on any other source (company’s career page, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, etc)
This phase is a seamless process for the job seeker. Your CV will be skimmed, and your experience will be analyzed by an HR Talent Acquisition (TA) team member and by the hiring manager – I’ll call them the ‘hiring team’.
I’ll tell you a secret (I found this out with a Google search, and didn’t get this information from any of my co-workers – just to be clear…): the average time the hiring team spends reading a resume is 6-8 seconds. Yeah, that’s right… you have a few seconds to make a lasting impression and make sure your resume lands in the “Yes” pile.
In case you missed my tips given on previous blog posts about CVs Do’s and Don’ts, you can read them here:
- 7 Tips on How to Write a Good CV (+ 2 Bonus Tips)
- 5 Tips on What NOT to Do in Your CV and What to Do Instead
After the hiring team puts you on the “Go” pile, you’ll move to the next phase.
Usually, there are two ways to start this second hiring process phase in Israel:
- You receive a call from the TA responsible for this position
- You receive an e-mail asking you to schedule a short call
Personally, I’ve received phone calls from recruiters and was caught at a bad time (doing shopping, working out, attending classes, etc). Some advice from my own experience:
- Install an app to help you identify your calls (I use True Caller)
- Politely, state that this isn’t a good time for you to speak (you don’t need to give any excuses, it’s completely acceptable) and ask if the person prefers to schedule this phone call or for you to call him/her back when it’ll be a suitable time for you (I always prefer to schedule)
- Always ask for the person’s name, phone number, company’s name and position you’ll be interviewed (even if you just scheduled for another time to speak, because you don’t want to be left hanging if they don’t communicate)
It seems like stupid advice, but if you’re looking for a job, check your mail box every day, in order not to miss such an important e-mail (in case you receive an e-mail asking you to schedule a short call).
Now that you have a first phone interview scheduled, here’s how to prepare for it:
- Read the job description for the position you’ll be interviewed for
- Read about the company
- Have your salary expectation ready (some places in Israel that share this information: Ethosia, JobInfo, Nisha, TechJob)
- Be sure to be in a silent place with good phone/internet connection
The phone interview usually takes around 15-20 minutes, so you’ll have to be very straightforward in your answers. Therefore, when answering the questions, try to use the keywords used in the job description. This way, it’ll be easier for the TA team member to understand that you have the experience they’re looking for that specific opening.
Use this opportunity to ask about the company’s process in case the TA team member doesn’t mention it. It is important to know how many steps will be needed for you to take until you get to the end of the process. I’m always in favour of transparency and this is one of the reasons why I decided to write this blog post.
Interview with the Hiring Manager
If you pass the phone interview, you’ll probably be invited for another interview. This time, with the hiring manager. If you are hired at the end of this entire process, the hiring manager will be your direct manager. So, it’s very important to prepare yourself the best you can to ace this phase!
In the past, I’ve written what I called ‘The Ultimate Guide to Acing Your Next Job Interview’ (part 1 and part 2). Recently, I have guided some friends during the hiring process at the company I work for, Checkmarx, and suggested that they read the guide, and they gave me very good feedback about it.
One thing I mentioned in the previous post, but I would really like to emphasize is: always ask questions at the end. The main reason for that is: the hiring process is a two-way direction. The same way they want to choose the right candidate for their needs, you should choose the best workplace for you to work at. You’ll find suggestions for your questions in the blog post I just mentioned.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many interviews were shifted to virtual space. I love Linda Lovitch’s videos on how to excel on online events/video interviews.
In case you were lucky enough to be invited to an interview in the office, below are a few tips:
- Be nice and polite with everyone you meet in the office
- If the hiring manager asks you if you would like to drink something, accept it. The kitchen in Israel is the main place to meet people that already work in the company. This can be a good opportunity to chit-chat and relax a bit before the interview.
- The dress code in Israel is very laid back, as I mentioned before. I suggest you look for some pictures of the employees online. Many companies have a social media channel only to showcase the company’s culture. Look for “Life at [name of the company]”, “We are [name of the company]” or “[name of the company] People” on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram to easily find pictures to help you understand the company’s dress code.
Some companies can add an additional interview with a person from the team, someone at a higher hierarchy level or even someone to test your language skills (if you’re applying for a position that requires a specific language proficiency).
For me, this was the most different step in the Israeli hiring process. Even though this phase is becoming more and more common worldwide, it’s a subject that always creates a certain amount of discomfort (from the point of view of the job seeker) and is considered a mandatory task (from the point of view of the hiring team).
What is a home assignment/assessment?
It is the main goal of the assignment to verify if you possess the skills required for the typical challenges the position you seek to fill demands.
Usually, the company stipulates a short deadline for you to deliver the task, which may require a presentation (I’ll write about the presentation in the next section).
I’ll mention some examples of home assignments I have delivered over time, just to give you a better idea of what can be asked for.
- For the ‘Strategy Analyst’ position at Zoomin Software (2018), I had 48 hours to send them a 3-5 slide presentation describing how I would sell ice to an eskimo. I wrote about the steps I took to create the presentation on my first ever blog post! You’re welcome to read it here.
- For the ‘Enterprise Account Manager’ position at Riskified (2018), I had 48 hours to send over a reply for the following request:
- Pick a company to target as a potential client for Riskified. Explain why you chose that company, who you would choose to contact there, and how you would approach them
- For the ‘Program Manager – Strategic Sectors’ position at Start-up Nation Central (2018), I had to choose one of the following projects and present it in PowerPoint (PPT) format during a 30-minute meeting and then further Q&A.
- Option #1 – Increase inflow of strategic funding: establish format for ongoingly connecting
- Option #2 – Target leading global corporates and develop their strategic
- Option #3 – Expand business between Israeli start-ups and global customers
- For the ‘Operational Excellence’ position at Gett (2019), I had 24 hours to deliver the home assignment in PPT format (2-3 slides per each task – 2 tasks in total). Questions:
- How would I examine current growth and retention processes of the B2B portfolio?
- Define best practices for B2B retention and growth process, goals and KPI’s
- For the ‘Brazilian Portuguese Content and Localization Specialist’ position at Fiverr (2020), I had 24 hours to deliver a seven-part home assignment with tasks related to the localization industry.
These are only a few examples of some of the home assignments I had to deliver over the years while I was looking for a job.
Home Assignment Presentation
As mentioned in the previous section, sometimes companies require not only a written version of the home assignment, but also a presentation. Usually this happens when the position requires certain public speaking/presentation skills.
My main tip for this phase is: PREPARATION. Prepare yourself as if you’re preparing for a real presentation. I’ve recorded myself and then identified my main difficulties and opportunities for improvement. I repeated the presentation until I felt I was ready for the showtime!
Another tip: try not to depend on your notes or read the slides during the presentation.
Usually expect more people from the team in the audience, and don’t forget to try to learn what those people think about the workplace and to establish a connection with all of them.
If you got to this phase, the chances of you being hired are very high! Congratulations!
My main tips for this phase are:
- Choose wisely who you’ll give as reference – make sure this person will say good things about you
- Notify the person you selected him/her as a reference. Mention the name of the position you’re running for and align which skills you want him/her to emphasize during the reference check conversation
Interview with the CEO
When interviewing for a small/start-up company, expect to be interviewed by the CEO or someone from the C-level.
My main tip for this phase is: don’t be afraid of him/her. On the contrary, be interested in his/her story. Research how he/she got the idea to build this company (if he/she is the founder). Watch videos, read interviews, and prepare stimulating questions to show your interest in growing with the company. As mentioned before, there is almost no hierarchy in Israel, so you’ll probably meet him/her around the office often when you start working there. So, try building a trusted relationship if you have this opportunity.
Amazing news! You received a contract to sign!
But remember, you’re in Israel! It’s in the Mediterranean people’s blood to negotiate! Take advantage of that and act like a native Israeli.
I have attended several workshops with tips on how to better negotiate a contract when starting a new job. Below is a brief summary of those tips:
- Sometimes, the salary offer is different from the number you gave in the beginning of the process. If this is the case, politely thank the offer and mention the fact that the salary was below your salary expectation. I’ve bravely done that in the past and discovered that my position was entitled to receive a company’s car. Since I didn’t need a car, I was able to receive a higher salary than the first written offer.
- There are other things you can negotiate, such as: vacation days (check out the law Israel regarding vacation days), car or financing of car expenses (if you use the car for working purposes), financing mobile phone expenses, meal vouchers, better social benefits, bonuses and even stocks or options.
- Sometimes, you’ll be obliged to sign a contract in Hebrew, even if you don’t read it very well (companies aren’t obligated to give you a contract in English). Therefore, ask for the support of a third person or even a lawyer that could help you understand exactly what you’re signed for. This advice is also true even if you’re lucky enough to receive a contract in English, just to make sure you’re getting the best offer you could get.
Newly hired at the company!
You have joined the Israeli workforce – congratulations! I am not going to sugarcoat it; this is a difficult task, even for Israelis. Between interviews and the completion of tasks, an interview process like this can take one to three months.
But don’t think that, just because you found a job, it’s time to relax and “enjoy the silence”. The market is very dynamic, and many mergers and acquisitions (M&As) happen all the time here. I myself was laid off after a M&A and wasn’t prepared. Therefore, I always tell people to keep attending meetups, maintain an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, and track their achievements. It’s always best to be ready when uncertain things happen.
I hope you enjoyed and learned something new with this blog post! If you did, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a comment!
Is there anything you would like me to write about? Let me know in the comments what you would like to see next!