Excerpted from the Italy Career Guide
Italians generally prefer doing business with people they already know. Personal relationships and trust are ingrained in the Italian business culture. Thus, networking and personal contacts can be extremely important in the job-seeking process, and it is recommended to seek employment recommendations through friends, colleagues, professional associates and industry contacts. In fact, a personal recommendation is often the best way to find employment in Italy.
First impressions are extremely important in Italy; in fact first impressions and non-verbal communication signals are as important as what one is actually saying. The way an applicant introduces him or herself is crucial. Applicants should pay attention to what they wear, especially because Italians are usually fashionable and formal in dress, and be aware of what image they want to communicate to the interviewer. Dress, overall neatness and professionalism are believed to show an applicant’s interest in the position. Interviewees should dress in formal business attire, with men in dark, well-cut suits and ties and women in simple, elegant suits or dresses.
The recruitment process in Italy is mainly based on interviews, usually three or four. There is no formula for interviewing in Italy. The interview can be anything from extremely casual to formal and intimidating but is generally an awkward mix of the two. The first interview is normally with the HR department and increasingly includes psychometric testing, including verbal, numerical and language testing, as well as personality profiling. The other interviews are held by the prospective manager/supervisor (sometimes together with HR) with the specific purpose of testing an applicant’s knowledge and skills and the potential ‘fit’ in terms of personality within the department. In small organizations, the last interview may be with the CEO.
Because the interview process in Italy is lengthy – up to three months – it is uncommon for an applicant to be told immediately of his/her prospects or the outcome, and patience is required. It is always recommended that an applicant follow up with a thank you email after the interview. It is not Italian protocol to contact the company or HR office to check on the recruitment process. In Italy, it takes time to fill a position and anything that may be perceived as pressure from a candidate is not looked upon in a positive light.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Italy Guide.