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Excerpted from the Panama Career Guide

Before the interview you should decide how much of a commitment you are willing to make to living in Panama. As with companies in most Latin American and Asian countries, Panamanian companies typically want to hire people who will be long-term employees — usually for no fewer than five years, but sometimes for life. On the other hand, multinational companies, or local companies with strong Anglo-Saxon or European cultures, are less likely to stress an interviewee’s plans for length of stay.

Pre-Interview Preparation

Be prepared to answer many kinds of questions. Normally, the interview centers around the résumé, as the interviewer will want more information on your work experience and education. It’s possible, however, that your interviewer will ask personal questions. Practice your answers to possible questions, keeping your focus on key points that should be emphasized.

Frequent interview questions in Panama include:

  • Tell us something about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this field?
  • How can you contribute to our company?
  • List three words that describe your character.

Interview Conduct

Handshakes must be moderately strong for both males and females when greeting interviewers, employers or any other individual engaged in recruiting; a firm handshake demonstrates self-confidence and enthusiasm. Wait for the interviewer to extend his or her hand, and maintain eye contact while shaking hands. Even though it is common to kiss women on the cheek in both Panama and Latin America, do not do this in interviews unless interviewers make it clear they are willing to be greeted this way.

The Interview

Panama shares Latin America’s lack of emphasis on punctuality, with activities beginning 15 or even more minutes beyond the specified time. However, for personal marketing purposes and specifically for interview purposes, being late is highly disqualifying, especially for all US companies. It is better to arrive 15 minutes early and wait.

Most interviews last between 30 and 60 minutes. However, some companies hold a short initial interview, while others last up to 90 or more minutes. Interview length usually depends on the interviewers and the degree of attention the candidate attracts. Human resource representatives usually take less time to conduct an interview than unit heads, managers, presidents and CEOs. This, however, is not a general rule, and the first interview can be conducted by a human resource representative or by the company owner.

This is just a sample of what you'll find in the complete Panama guide.

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