How to Ace a Job Interview as an International Student

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In this competitive job market, it is critical to be highly prepared and practice before every job interview. You will only get one shot to stand out. As an international students, you are competing against domestic students who may have the same skills and education. Here are 5 ways you can stand out, and ace every job interview.

  • No dead fish handshakes. Talk about a bad first impression. Every recruiter wants to hire a candidate who is confident in his/her work, skills and self. When you walk into that interview room, put on your biggest smile and give your interviewer a firm handshake with the right amount of strength. No need to break bones. Also, sit straight as it sends a message of intelligence and confidence. Tell yourself you own that room, you are the best at what you do and they need you. You need to believe it.
  • Articulate: As an international student you may be self conscious about your accent and constantly second guess your worth in this competitive job search race. You’ve probably told yourself several times “I have an accent, they will never hire me”. Fun fact, did you know that the CEOs of companies like Mcdonald’s, Microsoft, Kellog’s, Altria and many others were foreign born? Yes that’s right; many so called “aliens” hold high leadership positions in this country. What matters are your skills, experience and ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Keep in mind that everyone has an accent, whether you are from New York, Mumbai or Hong Kong. Your eloquence will make recruiters look past it. Don’t try to speak too fast. When answering questions, speak slowly but surely and articulate every word you say. And that’s something you can practice during your free time. You can take some free spoken English lessons online to practice your language skills.
  • Understand the benefits of diversity: Many companies pride themselves on diversity initiatives. As an international student, you are bringing with you a different worldview, creative ideas and methods of solving problems. You are unique and think differently. You have the ability to adapt to changes and new environments. On top of that, you can help the company tap into a new market or better understand a current market or demographic you represent. In this global economy, the diversity of the staff will help companies enter new markets and understand global challenges. When asked the question “why should we hire you?”, don’t miss out on this opportunity to sell yourself and address how your foreign background and experience will benefit the company, its clients and stakeholders.
  • Your skills are transferable: Create parallels between your previous work experience abroad and the job description. The environment, practices and technology might be different, but the objectives and expectations in the workplace are very similar around the world. Talk about the skills you used and developed while living and working abroad and how you can apply them to the current role. Whether you are an expert in Ingenieria Eléctrica (Spanish), génie électrique (French) or Engenharia elétrica (Portuguese) you know how to design electrical systems by developing and testing components.
  • Become an immigration expert. Many employers are unfamiliar with immigration laws or have misconceptions about the timelines and cost of hiring international students. It’s your responsibility to learn everything about CPT, OPT, H1B, work permits, costs and procedures and be ready to educate your hiring manager. By mastering the processes, you will help eliminate the fear associated with hiring you. Also, the research you’ve done and your ability to clearly educate the hiring manager on a complex topic like immigration will also reaffirm your ability to solve problems and communicate effectively at work.


Bonne chance!