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Job Interviews for International Students


As an international student, you will likely have at least one, if not more, interview during your time in the states, whether for a job, an internship, or graduate school. Interviewing is stressful for everyone, but as an international student, you have the added concern of language and cultural barriers. Here are a few tips to help you succeed in your next interview.

Cultural Values

Although culture and values vary between different regions and groups in the US, there are some commonly held cultural norms in American society. These values include:

  • Honesty - Employers want to hear what you have to say, not what you think they want you do say. Your interviewer wants to know what you really think, so that they can determine whether or not you will make a good fit for the position and the company.
  • Directness and Efficiency - When answering a question, be concise and try your best not to ramble.
  • Confidence - You have to be your own advocate during your interview. Although your impulse may be to be humble and modest, this can come across as a weakness. Don't be afraid to talk yourself up, but be careful not to come across as arrogant.
  • Punctuality - Being on time means being at the interview ten minutes before it is meant to begin.
  • Polite friendliness - Try to be likeable, but not overly intimate or personal.

Research and Preparation

This is the most common interview advice that you will find. Make sure that your thoroughly research the organization with which you will be interviewing beforehand. This may sound like a given, but you would be surprised by how many people do not take the time to familiarize themselves with the companies or schools with which they interview, and this will hurt them in the long run. If you are prepared to answer basic questions, this will give you more confidence when answering the harder ones.

For more tips to help you prepare for your interview, check out our Checklist on Coming Prepared to your Interview.

Speak Slowly and Clearly

If English is not your first language, communication between you and your interviewer might take a little extra effort. Try to make this as easy as possible, even if it means speaking much slower and louder than feels natural. As long as your interviewer can understand you, the language barrier should not be a problem.

Emphasize Your Experiences

You can use your status as an international student to your advantage, as it highlights your independence, ability to adapt to a new environment, and language skills. Remember that your unique experiences can make for great stories to share with your interviewer, and you might even be the most interesting candidate they've spoken to for the position.

Whatever you do, stay confident and believe in yourself!

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