International students in the U.S have a lot to think about prior to coming to the states. From international student loans to scholarships and even job interviews.
Stressless by following these simple tips for preparing for an interview in the U.S as an international student.
Know The Differences Between Interviews in The U.S and Abroad
Although the interview process is similar in the U.S and in many nations abroad there are some distinct differences international students should be aware of. For example, in the U.S interviews don’t require a photo or personal information to be in your resume, unlike many European and Asian countries.
Furthermore, interview questions about anything related to your race, age, gender, religion, marital status, or sexual orientation are not only considered inappropriate, but they are actually illegal on a federal level.
Another important note for international students is that in the U.S interviewees self-promotion isn’t looked down on, it’s encouraged. Kay Xander Mellish, author of “How To Live in Denmark 2017”, describes how self-promotion in an interview in Europe can come across as rude or self-involved, however, in the U.S. it’s a different story.
Self-promotion is expected in US interviews. Interviewers expect you to talk about your accomplishments and how they will translate to your new role, so don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. It’s the American way.
Some U.S interviews may also contain brain teasers, puzzles or odd questions meant to throw off interviewees. Don’t stress these, just do your best, be honest and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know.
Know the Company, Know the Culture
Before interviewing in the U.S it’s important to have a strong idea of how the business you are applying to actually works. How do they make their money? Are they profitable? Who is their competition?
All of these are questions you should have some sort of answer before the interview begins. You don’t have to become an industry expert overnight, but at least be able to engage in a meaningful conversation about business operations.
Knowing how a company operates allows you to illustrate how you could contribute to the team. You can find this information in the company’s SEC filings if they are public, however, if they are private it might take some more digging to find out exactly how your potential future employer operates.
Understanding how your interviewer’s company operates is great, but you also have to be aware of the unique company culture and values.
In the U.S, over the past couple of decades especially, companies have become obsessed with relaying a set of values throughout their organization. Fitting in with those values and the company culture that results from them is a huge part of landing the job.
Know Your Why
This may sound obvious, but interviewers want to know why you want to work for them.
Do you want to gain skills and experience as an intern? Are you ready for an entry-level position where you should be an asset to the team, but also need some help growing into your new role? Or are you ready to take your career to the next level and take on some serious responsibility?
Knowing why you want to work for the specific company you are interviewing for can help set you apart. This comes back to knowing the business. If you are able to illustrate why you want to work for specifically your interviewer’s business—as opposed to its competitors for example— then it makes them far more likely to hire you.
Anticipate The Interviewer’s Objections
Be aware of what might lead to you being shown the door instead of your new office. For example, if you have a strong academic background, but limited work experience, highlight ways you can translate what you’ve learned to your new role in the office.
Be honest and open about how you can overcome the interviewer’s reservations regarding your potential performance.
If you are an international student, it’s also important to make sure you
clarify your sponsorship details beforehand so the employer knows you are eligible to work.
Prepare Stories of Growth
Having a set of—not memorized, but close—stories set up to wow your interviewer is a great way to prepare for the hiring process. When you are asked to tell a story about your past(and you will be) you have the chance to impress the interviewer and get a little more of a personal connection.
One key here, in my experience, is to focus on stories of personal and professional growth. Employers want to see your adaptability in our changing modern workplace, so highlight times you’ve grown and what the new skills you’ve acquired can bring to the table.
For international students especially, practicing interviews beforehand with friends or classmates can be an invaluable tool.
The last thing you want to do is struggle with your English during the interview. It’s not that the interviewer would judge you for it, but rather, you want to be able to accurately represent your true self.
So, don’t forget to practice your English skills, including the relevant vocabulary, before the interview. Also, don’t worry if you need to slow down when speaking, interviewers in the U.S will be patient and understanding of your needs as an international student as long as you are open and honest.
The life of an international student in the U.S can be hectic. Balancing work, school, and social life is hard enough without moving across the world. Still, interviews shouldn’t be adding to your stress.
Follow these tips, prepare accordingly, and you should have stressless interviews and your new U.S job in no time.