Interview Tips for International Students

Each year, international students in the Cockrell School successfully conduct job searches. How do they do it? They prepare. By investing time and energy in preparation, you can be confident in your ability to adjust to your new environment and communicate your unique skills, qualifications, and enthusiasm.  

There are several major differences between job interviews in the United States and job interviews in foreign countries.

U.S. Interview

  • Be punctual. Arrive 5 to 15 minutes prior to appointment.
  • Eye contact is expected and shows confidence.
  • Interviewer styles vary. May begin with direct questions or minimal small talk.
  • Interviewer may do most of the talking or may expect the candidate to do most of the talking.
  • Questions regarding age, race, sex, and marital status are illegal.
  • Direct questions regarding competency, experience.
  • Open discussion of accomplishments and skills shows confidence.
  • Show clear self knowledge, career goals and long-term plans. NOTE: It may be important to be flexible about your goals, however, to initially obtain employment.
  • Interviewer may expect immediate competency and look at each new employee for a two to five year commitment.
  • Self-disclosure of strengths, weaknesses, personality, leadership style, problem-solving abilities, etc. may be appropriate.
  • Researching the organization and demonstrating that knowledge during the interview is expected. Shows initiative and interest.
  • Acceptable to ask an employer at the close of the interview where they are in the interview process and when the candidate can expect to hear back from them.
  • Inquiring about the status of an application after the interview is acceptable and demonstrates interest in the position.

International Interview

  • Personal relationships may be more important than time. Being late may not be a problem.
  • Eye contact, especially with persons of higher status, may be disrespectful.
  • Interviewers commonly start with small talk and look for information regarding character or personality.
  • Interviewer may talk for the majority of the interview.
  • Age, race, sex, or marital status may be issues in the interview. Males may be expected to dominate interactions with females. Younger people may be expected to show deference to older people.
  • Indirect questions regarding competency, experience.
  • Citing accomplishments and skills might be considered boastful, self-serving, or too individualistic. 
  • Jobs may be assigned by government or family. Questioning one’s role in a company may be seen as disloyal. Companies sometimes assign work and expect individuals to accept what is available. 
  • Interviewer may not expect immediate competence and instead be looking for a long-term employee.  
  • Personal questions regarding such issues might be considered an invasion of privacy.
  • Researching an organization in advance may show too much initiative and independence.   
  • Asking an employer during an interview where they are in the interview process and when you can expect to hear back from them may be seen as too forward.
  • Inquiring about the status of an application after the interview may be seen as rude.   

*Provided by The University of Texas at Austin International Office

The Handshake 

In the business world, people tend to place a lot of importance on the handshake, and commonly believe that a person’s handshake says a lot about him or her. It is a standard gesture of introduction and greeting in the United States. If cultural or religious rules prohibit you from shaking hands, please see an ECAC career counselor to discuss alternatives. Following are some guidelines for shaking hands.

  • Smile, make good eye contact, and extend your hand.
  • Keep your handshake firm and brief.
  • Do not worry if you forget a name. It is appropriate to ask forgotten or difficult names again. Simply say, "Please tell me your name again."