Interviewing as an International Student
An interview is your chance to show an employer who you are and what you can bring to the position. In addition to creating strong written materials, you also need to be prepared to orally convey your qualifications and your character. For your interview, you must:
- Have a clear understanding of your skills and strengths
- Know which qualities the employer is looking for
- Review your experiences and identify concrete examples of how you have developed and demonstrated the qualities/skills the employer is looking for
Basic Interviewing Tips
Research the employer
Before you interview, you should know what qualifications the employer is looking for.
Be prepared to speak to why you’re the best candidate based on the requirements in the job description, the employer’s mission statement and values, and the interviewer’s potential concerns (for example, ask yourself if they would have reservations because you’re missing some experience or qualification, and prepare a defense).
Clarify your ‘selling points’
Make sure these points are clear: list the point first and then give an example.
Prepare for common interview questions
One of the most common interview styles is the behavioral interview, which is based on the premise that your past performance is the best indicator of future performance in similar circumstances. Interviewers are looking for proof that you can demonstrate their desired skills in the real world.
The best way to answer these questions is with the Situation-Action-Result (SAR) model.
- Situation: Describe a challenge you faced similar to the example posed by the interviewer.
- Action: Explain the actions that you took to resolve the situation.
- Results: Explain the positive outcomes that came from your actions.
Prepare questions for the interviewer
Asking questions shows that you’ve researched the company and you have genuine interest and intent to work for them. Avoid questions about salary, benefits, etc.; those should be saved until you have been offered the position.
Rehearsing your answers out loud, and in front of the mirror, friends, and Career Center advisors will help you be more confident and calm during the real interview.
Dress professionally and bring a copy of your resume
Make sure you dress appropriately, make eye contact, give a firm handshake, have good posture, speak clearly, and don’t chew gum or wear perfume, cologne, sunglasses, or distracting jewelry. You want the interviewers to be able to focus on what you’re saying. Remember to bring a copy of your resume.
Send a thank you note
Like asking questions, sending a thank you email (within 24 hours of the interview) shows an employer that you’re serious about wanting to work for them. Keep the tone as professional as the interview itself. Avoid mentioning any mistakes in the interview, asking about salary/benefits, or waiting too long to send the note.
Consider your strengths as an international student
As an international student, you have particular strengths and skills. In preparation for your interview, you may want to think of concrete examples from your experience as an international student which demonstrate your development of these skills. These might include:
- Achieving goals despite obstacles
- Applying information and skills to new contexts
- Awareness of global trends and issues
- Cross-cultural communication
- Critical thinking skills
- Cultural awareness
- Foreign language proficiency
- Independence and self-sufficiency
- Problem solving
- Taking initiative
- Time management
- Verbal communication
Reflect upon your experiences, both in and outside of the classroom, where you gained career related strengths. For example, did you have to solve problems by applying familiar concepts and skills to new situations? Did you learn about global issues with people whose culture and value systems differed from your own? Were you adaptable in a new environment? Did you develop an understanding of your area of interest from a different cultural perspective? Keep your strengths as an international student in mind as you interview and craft your application documents.
Lastly, remember that each interview is a learning experience! After each interview, consider what went well and what you could do better, so that you can improve the next time.
For more help with interviewing, reach out to the Career Center:
Memorial Union 3rd Floor