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How Adaptable Are You?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 2 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
How Adaptable Are You?

As the saying (nearly) goes: you don’t have to be adaptable to work abroad, but it helps!

Of course, going to work abroad can really help you develop your skills, so you don’t have to be the perfect example of an adaptable employee before you go to work abroad, but you certainly do have to have the right character – the rest can come later.

This questionnaire has been written to help you understand yourself a little better and see how suited you are to working abroad. Don’t worry if you don’t ‘pass’ with flying colours – use the positive points to help you build your adaptability before you go.

Being adaptable is really the greatest quality for new employees, especially when you have the added issue of being in a foreign country. Being adaptable means that you can quickly fit into a new team, be open minded and hit the ground running. Look at the following questions and pick which answer best suits you and your character.

1. Stuck in Your Ways?

You have just started working in a Spanish estate agents office and your new colleague says that she is going to write up some new properties to put in the window. Do you…?
  • a) Watch what she’s doing and make a mental note of the differences?
  • b) Ask her to talk you through what she’s doing so you can do it next time?
  • c) Stand over her shoulder and say ‘We don’t do it like that in England’ every time you notice something she does differently?

2. Open to New Ideas?

You’ve registered with a recruitment agency in your new home town in France and asked to be put forward for office manager jobs, as that’s what you did back home. Instead, the agency asks if you’d like to work directly for them as a recruitment consultant. Do you…?
  • a) Thank them for the suggestion and say you’ll think about it and get back to them in a few days?
  • b) Ask about the job and then say ‘why not! I can start tomorrow!
  • c) Say that you only want to be put forward to office manager positions because that’s what you did in England

3. Breaking Through the Language Barrier

So, you’ve started your new job in Italy and all is going swimmingly. You’re picking up the language slowly but surely and making friends with your colleagues. You are all sitting in the regular Monday Morning Meeting when someone makes a joke and everyone falls about laughing – except for you because you don’t understand it. Do you…?
  • a) Pull your Italian dictionary out of your bag or pocket and quickly look up the word you didn’t understand so you can join in the fun?
  • b) Say, in Italian, ‘Hey guys, let me in on the joke?!?’ with a big smile?
  • c) Storm out because you think they’re all laughing at you?


Mainly A
You are pretty adaptable and likely to have a great time working abroad. But you probably could have an even better time if you went with the flow a little more often and let people help you. When you take the brave step to go and work abroad, people will warm to you if you make an effort, but you don’t have to get your subjunctive verbs right straight away!

Mainly B
You are super-adaptable and set to have a terrific experience working abroad. You’re ready to learn and are open-minded and happy to ask for help.

Mainly C
Are you sure that you really want to work abroad? If you are, perhaps you are better suited to working for yourself, such as setting up your own bar, rather than working with others that will already have their own way of doing things. Perhaps read some of the a) and b) answers to get some ideas on how to lighten up a little!

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