What Are Intercultural Skills? (Plus How To Improve Them)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As companies hire a more diverse workforce and set up international offices, it becomes essential for employees to have the right skills to adjust to new cultures and communicate with each other effectively. Intercultural and interpersonal skills can help diverse employees feel comfortable in the workplace and collaborate with each other. These skills can help you increase your productivity and enable organisations to scale rapidly, enter new markets and engage clients and customers. In this article, we define intercultural skills, discuss some examples, explain how to improve them and share how to highlight them on your job application.

What Are Intercultural Skills?

Intercultural skills are the abilities that help perceive and adjust one's perspective and behaviour in response to varied cultural circumstances and environments. Respecting cultures, languages and traditions that are distinct from your own is an essential component of being an intercultural professional. As employees in multicultural workplaces often come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, having these abilities can help you understand your colleagues better while also increasing your social awareness.

Besides helping a diverse workforce function effectively, having the right skills to navigate a multicultural workplace can help employees innovate and become more creative. As employees with different thoughts and ideas interact to find common solutions, the business benefits as it starts offering products and services that cater to diverse business requirements. Having a diverse workforce can help companies maintain a positive brand name and reputation, target new customers and grow rapidly.

Examples Of Intercultural Skills

Here are some examples of vital intercultural competencies:


Communication skills help interact, convey and comprehend information clearly. Strong communication skills can be vital in any job but are crucial in a diverse and multicultural workplace. Effective communication in a culturally diverse workplace requires empathy and flexibility. Being respectful while working with each other can help employees from different backgrounds interact without judgement and prevent misunderstandings. Effective communication skills also include non-verbal cues, active listening and conflict resolution.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples


Problem-solving abilities can be vital for a workplace where people from a variety of cultural backgrounds collaborate. These skills can help professionals understand challenges better and discover solutions effectively. This also includes leveraging the experience and expertise of team members from different backgrounds and identities to find creative and innovative solutions.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples


It is essential for people from different cultures and social groups to have intercultural communication abilities to communicate effectively. Empathy is the capacity to relate with someone else by comprehending circumstances and challenges from their perspective. As a result, it becomes necessary to have a thorough knowledge of the culture, country and traditions of your colleagues. By being empathetic, employees can become more tolerant and respectful of their differences and celebrate different identities and customs.

Multi-linguistic skills

Multilingualism can make people more aware of other cultures, potentially making it easier for them to collaborate and work with colleagues from different cultural identities. In an intercultural workplace, you might work with people or talk to clients who are not fluent in English. Knowing how to speak or read a second language can help you communicate with them effectively, particularly if you are regularly working on international projects.


Collaboration skills are the interpersonal competencies that help teams solve an issue or make progress towards a shared aim. These skills can be critical in helping diverse team members work in unison. When team members collaborate with each other effectively, they are more likely to solve complex challenges, improve efficiency and improve self-awareness. Collaboration skills include emotional intelligence, problem-solving, active listening, persuasion and communication abilities.

Related: Collaboration Skills: Definition, Benefits And Examples


Respecting the perspective of others and learning to value diversity can be essential in a multicultural workplace. As different team members present varied ideas and solutions, listening to each other and understanding everyone's perspective can make discussions and meetings more insightful. To ensure that all members of the team respect each other, you can set up an employee resource group that allows for informal conversations about people's cultures and traditions. This can serve as a respectful forum that allows everyone in the team to learn about the cultures and identities of their colleagues and ask questions respectfully.

Cultural awareness

Cultural awareness refers to a person's ability to recognise and appreciate the unique perspectives and customs of others. It involves making an effort to learn and embrace traditions that are different and celebrating them together. Cultural awareness can be crucial in teams with members from different nations and identities or when you are visiting another country on an official visit.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking skills enable professionals to analyse different challenges, understand the reason behind them, collect data and develop and implement solutions. Strong critical thinking skills can help diverse team members collaborate effectively, resolve conflict, demonstrate leadership and improve efficiency. Critical thinking abilities include problem-solving, decision-making, research and creativity skills. Being objective in your assessment of complex challenges can help you collaborate and communicate with diverse team members effectively.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions And Examples

How To Improve Intercultural Skills

Follow these steps to improve your intercultural experience and abilities:

1. Increase your self-awareness

Learning about your own culture and identity and how it influences your actions can be a great way to improve your intercultural awareness. Think about how you present yourself and the way you act to find out how you come across to your colleagues. Ask yourself whether any of your behaviour or comments can be problematic for someone with a different identity. This exercise can make you more empathetic and respectful to others.

2. Listen to and observe your colleagues

When you interact with others, you can benefit by carefully listening to your colleagues and noticing their non-verbal cues. Pay close attention to different communication components, such as tone, body language and confidence level, to determine how comfortable team members are when talking to you. By paying attention to what your colleagues have to say and reciprocating their emotions, you can establish deeper professional and interpersonal relationships with them.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition And Examples

3. Get international experience

One of the most effective ways to learn about different cultures and languages is by working, studying or volunteering in a foreign country. These experiences can help make you more flexible and respectful towards other cultures, alongside helping you learn a new language. Besides, having international experience can be a valuable addition to your resume when applying for jobs in multinational companies.

4. Improve your cultural awareness

Cultivate a genuine interest in learning about different cultures by reading about them and attending events that celebrate unique traditions. This can help you sensitise your behaviour and attitude to others, dispel assumptions and make you more empathetic. Knowing about how your culture and identity differ from that of your colleagues can make you more respectful and inclusive.

5. Enrol for classes and certifications

You can learn how to improve your intercultural knowledge through short-term certifications and training. For example, you can sign up for online courses on intercultural communication that explain how culture influences communication and how important culture is in everyday life. Through structured learning and assessments, these classes can help make you more aware of other cultures. You can also suggest these exercises to other team members to enhance the collective cultural awareness of all team members.

Ways To Highlight Intercultural Skills While Applying For Jobs

Here is how you can showcase intercultural experience during different stages of the job application process:

Showcasing intercultural abilities on a resume

Refer to the job description to identify any specific skills required by the role. If you know more than one language, make sure you mention it. You can also add a section titled 'Personal interests' and explain your interest in learning about foreign cultures. Here are some ways in which you can showcase these skills on your resume:

  • Ability to work in intercultural teams

  • Flexible and adaptable to new and challenging environments

  • Strong intercultural communication skills

Here is how you can mention your proficiency in different languages:

Language skills:

  • Spanish: fluent

  • German: conversational

  • Mandarin: beginner

Focusing on intercultural abilities in the cover letter

If you have any international experience working for multinational or volunteering companies, make sure to include it in the cover letter. Highlighting this can convey that you have the right experience, exposure and adaptability to work with individuals from different cultures. You can also explain what you learned during the experience and how it makes you a suitable candidate for this job.

Discussing intercultural abilities in a job interview

During the job interview, focus on describing how you work with colleagues from different backgrounds and cultures. If you have international work experience, discuss its challenges and learning in detail. Try to highlight how you overcame those challenges and collaborated with team members by overcoming language or cultural barriers.

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