Interview Strategies for International Candidates 

Do you have aspirations to work in the U.S. after you complete your academic studies? If you plan to pursue this path, an interview is your chance to make a strong first impression. It is your opportunity to promote your worldly qualifications and demonstrate how you have an edge above the competition.

To secure an interview, it is essential to first learn about potential companies that interest you. Search for employers that are international student-friendly with a history of hiring employees on a work visa. Two resources to support your search for employers are myvisajobs.com and GoinGlobal.com.  GoinGlobal requires your NetId and password to gain full access and you will want to enter GoinGlobal through the Center for Career Development’s website. It is important to know that many U.S. government, national labs, security and defense industries, and aerospace typically require U.S. citizenship or permanent residency for its employees.

Discussing your Visa Status

The topic of sponsorship may come up at any point in the hiring process. If the hiring manager asks the question “will you require sponsorship”, always answer honestly. Most companies pose the question to understand if you currently need sponsorship or if you will need it in the future.

During interviews, you may encounter challenging questions about your visa status. It is crucial to learn how to handle work eligibility and authorization questions. Before applying to a position at a U.S.-based-firm, become thoroughly familiar with immigration regulations and your visa status benefits. UConn’s International Student & Scholar Services can answer your personal work authorization questions and provide you with ongoing updates about federal work authorization guidelines.

Illegal Interview Questions

It is illegal for companies to ask about a job seeker’s race, color, and national origin, place of birth, visa type, or citizenship. However, there are ways an employer can get around illegal questions. For instance, the following article Job Seeking Tips for International Students explains that the recruiter can ask “are you eligible to work in the U.S.?” or “will you now or in the future require sponsorship for an employment visa?”

Additionally, while a recruiter cannot ask about your national origin or race, they can pose the following questions to understand the fluency of a language necessary for a position: “What language do you most often speak? Or “What is your native language?” This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your proficiency in speaking any language that is desired by the employer. Emphasize that you are bi-lingual or multilingual if you are and share with the employer how this can be an attribute to the company which can also help you to stand out amongst other candidates

Showcase your Global Assets

Use your international student status to enhance your competitiveness in an interview. “The National Association of Colleges and Employers identified eight competencies for career readiness and one of them is Global/Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates, openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.”

Demonstrate how you will be a valued professional at the company to which you are applying. Use your international status as an advantage to stand apart from other graduates in America. Your global thinking will complement all that you have done before coming to the U.S and during your education within the U.S.

Your international status indicates a cultural awareness and demonstrates how you’ll adapt to an international working environment. You can also emphasize that you are open-minded toward other cultures, and diverse customs.

In the U.S. it is not rude to boast about your accomplishments. Self-promotion is encouraged in an interview – go ahead and sell your abilities. Highlight how you communicate in multiple languages. Always exude confidence. When it comes to body language use a firm handshake (if choosing to shake hands), and make eye contact throughout the interview.

Be Prepared for Your Interview

Dress professionally, bring an extra copy of your résumé for each person you will be meeting with, and a padfolio/notebook and pen to take notes.

End enthusiastically and ask any follow-up questions you may wish to know about the company/position including “what are next steps?” Send a thank-you e-mail to the hiring manager when possible. In the email thank them for their time, reiterate key factors that would make you successful in the role, and show your interest in the company.

Join a Practice Interview at UConn’s Center for Career Development. The office offers interview simulations that are conducted by specially trained staff members to provide you with tips and tricks to feel more comfortable and confident in your interview performance. This will provide you with an opportunity to provide answers to common interview questions and to practice in English if it is not the language with which you are most confident. The more you practice interviewing the more comfortable you will be with the format and responding to questions.

Desirée is a Career Coach and conducts Practice Interviews at UConn’s Center for Career Development

By Desirée Martino

By Desiree Martino
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