Getting called for a job interview is a strong indicator that an employer has noticed your potential and may be interested in hiring you. It is important to learn about the US job interview process as an international student, as this information can help you start preparing and practicing early to give you a better chance of landing the job.
Learn everything you need to know about international interview questions, including interview questions for international students, questions to ask for international jobs, and more.
International Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them Perfectly
Your job interview is an opportunity to display your professional capabilities, attitude, and enthusiasm to take on the role. During the interview, your employer may ask questions to understand who you are and what you may offer the company in terms of knowledge and skills.
Before your interview, review the job description of the role you applied for, focusing on the specifics of how your background, skills, and experience are relevant to the position. If the job description is limited, research comparable jobs at similar companies and look up information on the job title, as this can give you a baseline understanding of what employers value and which criteria are important.
Having a clear understanding about yourself and your potential new role provides a strong foundation while answering international job interview questions. Many companies may include international process interview questions related to how your skillset aligns with their company goals, including asking about your long-term career action plan. So, during your pre-interview preparation, research industry trends so you can discuss future plans and how you may grow along with the company.
Here are some international job interview questions to keep in mind, followed by a few tips for how to answer them.
Question: Why Do You Want to Work in the US?
When searching for jobs in the US, an important international interview question addresses why you want to work abroad. To answer, think about your long-term plans and career objectives. Ask yourself ‘Why do you want to work in the US?’, ’How will it impact my life?’, ‘What future do I see?’ Your motivations are a pathway for your employer to understand your career goals and whether they align with the company.
If you wish to work in the US for career progression, your employer may have a long-term employment plan for you at the company. However, if you are in the US for a short period of time, a temporary role may be more suited to your personal timelines. This can impact whether you should apply for long-term or short-term jobs.
Provide factual reasons for why working in the US will benefit both the company and your personal career goals.
Identifying your main motivation keeps you focused on delivering good work and gaining a positive learning experience at your job. Prospective employers look for candidates who have a clear purpose and drive, as these employees tend to be strong contributors to the company overall.
What Not to Say:
“I’m not really sure, I have not thought about it.”
Employers look for candidates who have developed a clear career path. Clearly defined goals show your purpose for applying for the role and your interest in the company. If you have not thought about why you wish to work in the US, you can mention that you hope this job will help you learn about the US work environment and gain technical skills to develop your career goals.
Question: Tell Us About Your International Experience
Another international job interview question is in relation to international job experience. This question covers cultural competency, diversity awareness, and versatile problem-solving skills, all being valued skills for employees at most companies. Your answer should clearly highlight your international experiences and what you learned from them, including how they have added to your skillset.
Discuss your unique experiences studying abroad and/or traveling. For example, you could say something along the lines of, “I studied culture and communication during my education in the US, and I have also volunteered at the nearby clinic to improve my human resource skills.”
International cultural experience is not limited to academic achievements or professional development. It could involve your hobbies or personal projects, such as visiting key heritage sites in a city and producing a photo gallery on your blog documenting your travels. It could also be your membership in a particular club on campus and its related events and activities.
Your answer should display how you would use your international experiences to improve your skills and apply them to your job role.
What Not to Say:
“I do not have a lot of international experience.”
Sharing how you may have improved your soft skills in an international setting can also be a valuable response. Learning to find your way around a city in another country or even communicating with an international citizen and befriending them is a worthwhile experience to share with the interviewer. As an international student in the US, you have countless opportunities to engage with international communities and events. Bring these up – they can contribute to presenting yourself as a culturally aware employee.
Question: Where Do You See Yourself in Five Year’s Time?
Employers want to know if your professional goals align with the job you are applying for and if you have an idea of your career progression in the years to come. They may also want to know if they can retain you in the long term – whether their potential career pathways match your personal plan.
Share your goals! For example, you might say, “I would like to lead a team while continuing to build my skills and gain new qualifications or certifications.”
You do not have to be too specific with your answer — you primarily need to communicate the duties, skill sets, and roles you are aiming for in the future and how you plan to grow. A good answer demonstrates that you are motivated and driven, while still making it clear you have well-defined career goals.
What Not to Say:
“I do not have a fixed plan ahead…”
Not having a plan to begin with is normal, especially if this is your first job, but it is important to communicate to employers that you are still aiming for growth. You can talk about how you are eager to grow and learn in the field and the opportunities the role will provide. You can even mention that you are currently working on a career development program to navigate through your career goals.
Question: Tell Us About a Time When You Worked with People from Different Cultural Backgrounds
Your work experience with diverse groups of people shows your employer you are aware of other cultures and are comfortable working in environments where people come from different backgrounds. As you may have to work in diverse teams at your workplace, your awareness and sensitivity demonstrate that you will be a respectful and collaborative employee.
You can also highlight ways you have explored different cultures, these can be any projects or experiences from which you learned to develop and grow your intercultural fluency. This includes:
A group project you may have worked on in class
Participating in cultural events held at your university
Come prepared with a specific story or anecdote from your personal experience. For example, you could share something similar to “when our team would come up with a game plan to resolve problems, different cultural perspectives allowed us to approach tasks differently. Workplace diversity allowed us to think out of the box and turn our unique differences into strengths for a better result.”
Your answer should communicate specific details about your experience that highlight your intercultural cooperation skills. This shows that you embraced the diversity in your team and produced a positive result.
What Not to Say:
“I have never worked in an international setting, so I do not have experience in this area.”
Keep in mind that different cultural backgrounds do not always mean international. You may have experience in working with people from different cultures in your own country or at your university, and these are important to cover in your answer. It’s important to show your interviewer that you are willing to understand other cultures and to adapt to different cultural settings.
Question: What Skills Do You Have that Would Help You Adapt to Working Abroad?
Here is a great opportunity to share your unique strengths and stand out to employers. You can discuss your technical skills along with your soft skills that have helped you navigate through your education in the US and adapt to lifestyle changes both home and abroad. Consider speaking about:
Any languages you speak other than English
Skills you have gained from your education
How you have connected and communicated effectively with others or in a team
Situations where you have been exposed to a challenge and adapted to resolve it
Leveraged an opportunity to connect with others as you built up your professional network
Relate your skills with a project you may have worked on, or even share your growth during a recent experience. Aim to give your prospective employer a good understanding of your overall capabilities.
In your answer, focus on communicating how your skills can be of value to the employer, and how they would make you the best possible fit for the job. Consider the job role you are applying for and mention any skills that match to improve your chances of landing the job.
What Not to Say:
“Well, I don’t have any work experience yet.”
Even if you have not worked in a job or internship previously, you have likely developed key workplace skills over the course of your education, such as time management, public speaking, project management, research, and many more. Additionally, mention that you are determined, hardworking, and willing to learn to expand your skills even further.
Question: When Do You Think You Will Be Able to Secure Your Work Permit?
One of the most important international job interview questions is about work permits. International process interview questions are important to employers as there are specific projects and timelines companies have in mind when they are hiring someone, and this includes the time it takes to get your work permit. Keep in mind students with an F-1 visa are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allow you to work in the US.
With CPT, you can work full time or part time 20 hours a week on employment training and paid internships in your relevant field of study, but only while you are studying. CPT is usually a part of specific academic programs and is authorized by your university’s Designated School Official (DSO) in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS). This means you can work together with your DSO to find out how soon you can obtain your work permit.
OPT authorizes you to work either before or after graduation. You can complete the “Application for Employment Authorization,” known as Form I-765, and email it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If your Form I-765 is approved, USCIS.gov will send you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with the official date when you can begin working.
Additionally, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students are eligible for a STEM OPT extension, which grants an additional 24 months of OPT work. This may be valuable to mention to the employer, if you are eligible.
The answer to any work permit question varies on the type of visa you have applied for and the industry where you hope to work. So, it is important to have a sound understanding of your particular visa and its rules and requirements.
You can always get in touch with a Shorelight advisor to navigate your visa and work permit application. Your advisor can offer guidance on when you will receive your work permit and help you learn more about the limitations to working in the US. They also provide exclusive international student support services such as resume tips, F-1 visa assistance, academic support, and more.
What Not to Say:
“I am currently unaware of these details.”
As employers need to make sure they can hire the right person for the role on their preferred timeline, it is important to know your visa restrictions and communicate them. If you are unsure about the status of your work permit and are working to find out, communicate this to the employer. You can also mention that your prospective employer’s assistance may be required in the process. This shows you are well-informed and are being transparent.
Other Questions that Might Come Up
You may be asked a variety of international interview questions, across different areas, depending on the organization and role.
Your interviewer may ask you to mention some of your weaknesses. You can respond by answering how you overcame a weakness or are currently studying to improve certain skills.
The interviewer may want to know if you have questions to ask for international jobs. You may ask anything related to your potential job role, work timing, and even your salary. Being open and confident with your questions makes a good impression and shows you are eager to learn about the role.
The interviewer may also ask a question based on an answer you gave earlier in your conversation, which may require you to go into more detail. Answer honestly and sincerely to communicate that you learned from your experiences.
Preparing for international job interview questions can help you stay composed throughout your interview as it gives you a chance to plan and practice your answers. Consider having a mock interview with your friends or family to get accustomed to the process, so you can perform better during the actual interview.
Finding an international job can take significant time and effort, but securing a role at a US organization is a great opportunity to grow your portfolio as a professional. Remember, you are never alone through the process — Shorelight advisors are always available to guide you through every step and support you as you work toward your dream job!
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