How to Prepare for Your US Job Interview
The US job interview process is different. Our team of US-based interviewing coaches put together the following guide to help you prepare.
Are you a newer American who is looking for a job in the United States? If so, there are some things you should know about the interview process. Keep reading for tips from our US-based interview coaches and recruiters to prepare for your American job interview.
Do Your Research
Before the interview, take some time to research the company. Read their website, look up their mission statement, and see if you can find any news articles about them. This will not only help you prepare for questions that may be asked during the interview, but it will also show the interviewer that you have a genuine interest in the company.
Review the Job Description
Another important step in preparing for your interview is to review the job description. This will help you understand what the company is looking for in a candidate and give you an idea of the types of questions you may be asked.
Many American companies ask situational interview questions using the job description. So, make sure to prepare talking points or examples for each item in the job description. This will help you ace the interview and land the job!
Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
In addition to preparing for questions about the company and the job, you should also have an elevator pitch ready. This is a brief introduction of who you are, what your qualifications are, and why you would be a good fit for the position. Your pitch will typically get used as your response to the first question that can be asked in a couple of different ways (i.e. "Tell Me About Yourself" or "What have you been working on lately?", etc.).
Keep in mind that American interviewers are looking for professional details in this introduction and they are busy. So, focus your pitch on the details that your interviewer will want to hear, and that helps to set the tone for a successful interview. And, most importantly, practice the pitch several times before your inter
Arrive on Time
This one should go without saying, but it's important to arrive on time for any in-person interviews. You want to be no more than 10 - 15 minutes early. Some places require you to go through several logistical or safety steps before "arriving." Keep this in mind as you plan your trip to the interview.
Being on time for phone or video interviews is also important. This means that you should plan ahead to be sure that you are in a place where your technology will work (and you can do the interview effectively). Technology can fail, so make sure to have a plan or a contact should that occur when you are waiting for your US interview.
Dress for Success
A professional appearance for your US job interview is key for both in-person and video interviews. This means that you need to dress for success. However, you do not always need to wear a suit. Instead, dress for the job/company that you are interviewing for.
And, don't hesitate to ask the person coordinating the interview about the dress code if you are uncertain about the expectations. But, always presume that you should look professional when you go into the interview - in person or online.
During the interview process, it is important to be honest about your qualifications and experience. The interviewer will likely do their own research anyway, so there is no point in trying to mislead them. Not only that, but if you misrepresent yourself and get hired for a job that you're not qualified for, it will only end up being a situation where everyone is unhappy. So, just be honest from the start!
Smile and Make Eye Contact
Most Americans view eye contact and smiling as positive traits and reflective of interest or satisfaction. During your interview, be sure to smile and make eye contact with your interviewer to show that you're engaging and interested in what they have to say.
Make sure to also smile when you interview by phone or video. The other person may not see your smile, but they will be able to hear it in your voice. So, don't hesitate to smile when appropriate to convey your interest and engagement with the process.
This doesn't mean that you should try to fake confidence if you're not feeling it. However, it's important to speak clearly and project an air of confidence during your interview so that your interviewer sees you as a competent candidate.
If you're not feeling confident, try to take a few deep breaths before your interview to help calm your nerves. And, remember that you are qualified for this position or you wouldn't have been selected to interview. So, just do your best and let your qualifications speak for themselves!
Be Mindful of Body Language
In addition to speaking confidently, it's important to be aware of your nonverbal cues during an interview. Avoid crossing your arms or legs, which can come across as defensive or uninterested, and instead try to maintain an open posture. Additionally, make sure to make eye contact and sit up straight to convey interest and engagement.
When in doubt, try to mimic the other person's body language. This doesn't mean copying the person in every action. It simply means to follow their lead and to reciprocate in posture and positioning. Doing so will make your interviewer more comfortable and will help you to focus on the questions.
These non-verbal cues are just as important when you're interviewing by phone or video. The interviewer will be able to hear the tone of your voice so be aware of how you come across on the other end.
It can be tempting to jump in when your interviewer is talking so that you can make sure to share all of the information that you think is important. However, in America, it's considered rude to interrupt someone when they're speaking. Instead, let your interviewer finish their thought before responding.
At the end of the interview, you will usually be given an opportunity to ask questions. This is your chance to show off your knowledge about the company and to demonstrate your interest in the position. So take advantage of it!
Avoid Controversial Topics
When discussing your hobbies or interests outside of work, avoid bringing up any topics that could be considered controversial (e., politics, religion). These topics can sometimes lead to disagreement and tension, which is best avoided in a job setting.
Plus, they aren't typically relevant to your ability to do the job. So, stay focused on the questions being asked. You aren't a robot, but there's no reason to delve into topics that are outside the scope of the conversation.
Throughout the hiring process—but especially during your actual job interview—it's important to make sure that you understand the question. Listen carefully and ask clarifying questions if necessary. This can also include repeating back what you heard to validate the topic so you can answer the question appropriately.
The most important thing to remember during your American job interview is to be yourself. This process is designed to help both you and the employer determine if this is the right fit for both parties. So, relax and be yourself so that you can accurately represent who you are and what you have to offer.
Follow up with a Thank You
After your interview, take a few minutes to write a thank-you note expressing your appreciation for the opportunity. In today's digital age, an email is perfectly acceptable. This is another chance to reiterate your interest in the position and to thank the interviewer for their time.
While a job interview in America may be different than what you're used to, don't let that stop you from acing the process. By following these tips, you can put your best foot forward and land the job of your dreams. Keep in mind that every company is different and every interviewer is different. So, make sure to adapt to your audience and prepare the best you can for each job interview.
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