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Interviewing in the U.S. as an International Student

Posted on September 02, 2020

After submitting your application, employers will review your cover letter and resume and hopefully invite you for an interview! International students may feel extra nervous about job interviews because of their language skills or cultural barriers. However, remember that the employer is interested in you as a candidate, and you have an opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities.


Research the employer…

Before you interview, it is essential to research your employer or hiring manager. This is crucial so you can better understand the company you are applying to. The best place to start is the company’s website. Browse through their site to learn about the employer’s values, often listed on the “About Us” page. Find the employer’s mission statement. Think of potential ways you align with the employer’s mission and values.

This is also a chance to familiarize yourself with the corporate language your employer or industry uses. Ask yourself, are there any terms or industry acronyms I should know? If so, make sure you understand their meaning, it will help you be confident in the interview process.

Practice, Practice, Practice…

The phrase that practice makes perfect is true! The best way to prepare for interviews is to practice. There are plenty of online resources that have sample questions for you to prepare for the interview. It is good to practice your responses to common interview questions, but also be prepared for unexpected questions like “What gets you up in the morning?”. It also gives you an opportunity to practice your mannerisms and non-verbal communication, which is also an important part of the interview.

Don’t forget to do a mock interview. Check to see if your university offers interview practice through its career center or ask a trusted colleague if they are able to conduct a mock interview with you. You can practice your greetings and brief small talk. This can help you feel more confident and comfortable speaking in front of others.

Listen intently and ask for clarification…

To be engaged in an interview, you must listen carefully. Sometimes it may be helpful to bring a notepad and a pen to write notes about the requirements or interesting aspects of the company. It is okay to ask for clarification on something, job interviewers do not expect to know all the answers. As an international student, you may be confused about a certain question or phrase. This is okay, you can always repeat the question to the interviewer and ask if you heard them correctly. It is better to ask for clarification than to misunderstand a question and provide a different response.

Ask questions…

Remember job interviews are a two-way street. Not only is the company interviewing you, but you are also interviewing the employer. Be sure to prepare some questions- a minimum of three- to ask your interviewer. This can show that you have done your research and are curious about what it would be like to work at the company. It can help you determine if the company is a good match for you.

Be yourself...

Last but not least, always be yourself. As an employee, you will need to complete your job duties, but employers also want to get to know you beyond your requirements. Being yourself will help you relax during the interview process and create space for a natural conversation to flow.

Additional Resources:

4 Steps to Excel at U.S. Interviews

5 Tips for Interviewing as an International Student

Interviewing for a US Employer

Author: Lauren Ratto

Lauren is a graduate student studying International Education at New York University. She is a graduate assistant for the International Student Team at NYU’s College of Arts and Science, where she helps run the International Student Mentor program. Most recently, Lauren has been awarded the International Student Ally award from NYU’s Office of Global Services.

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