How to get a job interview in English in the USA: a complete guide with examples of questions and answers
Regardless of whether you are looking for your first job in the United States or if you have ten years of work in the best American companies, you will still need to undergo an interview when finding a job. For newly arrived immigrants, this is a special challenge, since it is necessary not only to convince a potential employer that you are the best candidate, but also to do this in excellent English. In this case, the interview itself may differ significantly from what we are accustomed to at home. Therefore, the sooner you start preparing for a future interview, the better. Especially for ForumDaily readers, we are together with an online school. Inglex prepared a complete guide on how to successfully pass an interview in English, starting with how to behave during a telephone and personal interview, how to answer questions (with examples of winning answers), taking into account the specifics of interviews in the US, and ending with a list of tips, what you should and should not ask the employer.
Differences in the passage of interviews in Russia and the United States
Interview in the USA is a long process
In America, you should not wait for a quick interview and get a quick answer. It may take several months from the moment you submit your resume to a formal job offer. In this process includes several interviews. First, as a rule, held telephone interview. Candidates who passed it in the IT sphere warned: you may encounter unusual accents that are difficult to understand even for people with good knowledge of English. To this must be prepared.
"Feature of America: everyone wants to talk to you in a voice, few people initially write to email or Skype- says system architect Anton Pestov. - But the problem is that 90% of the calls were from Indians. Personally, I still do not understand their broken English, but then it was just tough, and I tried to translate the conversation into text as soon as possible (email, Skype) ”.
After the telephone interview, a personal meeting is scheduled, moreover, with several interviewers (simultaneously or sequentially). In case the interviewers in Englishconsistently replace each other, such an interview can take a whole day. However, after it, you may be assigned another conversation, for example, with a higher-level manager. One of my friends was refused only after the third interview to workbetween which took place for a week or more.
Inna Levinson7, who had worked for a famous Chinese company Alibaba before moving to New York, describes the his employment in a small startup where at that time only 17 people worked:
"The interview took four hours, two of which I spoke with the project manager and the head of business development (in fact, two guys 26 years old). After that, for another 40 minutes, I talked with the future subordinate about the specifics of working in technical support. After that, two other future colleagues and I went to a bar, where over the aperol we talked about work and life - this is the so-called Cultural interview, which is important precisely in order to understand whether you can become a full-fledged member of a small startup team. The next step was to check my recommendations - they called both Alibaba and the Russian company, whose branch I headed in Beijing ".
By the way, cultural interview, which Inna mentioned is quite common in American companies. Most often, it is an informal dinner in a friendly atmosphere, the main purpose of which is to see your immediate skills in communicating with people.
In a similar way describes the The process of applying for the first American job Olga from San Francisco:
"In the beginning, I had a 40-minute telephone interview with my potential manager. A week later, I was invited for a personal interview at the office, where I met with four representatives of my future team. Each had a 45-minute conversation, during which I was asked about my experience and virtually all of my previous jobs. There were quite a few situational questions, such as “What would you do if ...” or “Give an example of a situation when you ...”. After that, I received a request to send examples of my work and a few more calls from the HR department with clarifying questions. The whole process - from the first interview to receiving the offer - took exactly one month ”.
Competition is not prohibited
Another important difference is normal and even positive attitude of American employers to the fact that in parallel with them you are interviewing their competitors. In Russia, such things are often taken to hide. Interviewing in different places at the same time is often perceived as disloyalty and is a sign for the employer that you are not too eager to work in his company. However, in America, the number of places in which you are interviewing directly indicates the level of your demand. Moreover, the successful completion of the interview with competitors becomes your advantage. If you can demonstrate a job offer (job offer), obtained from another company, it can stimulate a competing firm to offer you a big salary.
The importance of matching company values
The third significant difference is the increased attention of some companies, especially large corporations, to your compliance. corporate values. If the post-Soviet space focuses on your professional skills, in America there are cases when even a qualified specialist with work experience may be denied if they decide that their values do not fit into the corporate culture.
For example, large American corporation Amazon has its own list of leadership principles. If you are going to get a job in a similar company, you should study them in advance and try to structure the answers in such a way that they reflect your listed values. For example, you may be asked: If I was your (If I were your boss and asked you to do something you disagree with, what would you do?).
In the Amazon example above, the quality of a leader is highlighted as the ability to express disagreement. "Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion " (Leaders are obliged to respectfully challenge decisions with which they disagree, even if it is unpleasant or tedious. Leaders are committed and persistent people. They do not compromise to maintain social cohesion). Based on this, you can think out in advance what answer you will give in a situation of disagreement with the supervisor. This approach is valid for many large corporations.
Appearance and manner of communication
US sites specialized in interviewing are advised to pay attention to such trifles as appearance, manner of communication, goodwill and even the ability to maintain eye contact with the interviewer. It is important to arrive at the interview on time, so the route is better to calculate in advance, taking into account traffic. If you are late, be sure to tell the interviewer or secretary about this. As employers themselves note, candidates who were late for interviews, but warned about this, had a better chance of being hired. Those who stayed only a few minutes, but did not consider it necessary to warn about it, or at least apologize, were often refused.
In most cases, your appearance is important to employers, not only the style of clothes, but also her tidiness. However, when choosing clothes it is important to take into account the corporate culture of the company. I know of cases when Russian girls who came in for an interview in a classic elegant business suit were told that they were dressed too official for this company. In Russia, a business suit and tie are considered practical attributes of an interview. However, in the United States, people who have experience in dealing with American employers advise viewing the photos on the company's website and choosing a “step” style more formal than the employer's clothing. Of course, good clothes are not in themselves a minus, but a sharp contrast can put the employer in an uncomfortable position.
Questions that an employer can ask
Let us turn to the questions that you can ask for an interview.
Naturally, they are waiting for you profile questionsrelated to your specialization and here it is better to prepare in advance. You must be free to navigate what is written in your resume and be ready to explain in detail each of its points. At the interview in English you will be asked tell about yourself, about your previous job and duties that you performed. Do not decorate your speech with epithets of your outstanding achievements. American interview preparation guides advise you to answer accurately and in detail. That is what will show the employer that you are truly a professional in your field. However, it is also important not to overdo it and highlight the main aspects, not too plunging into trifles.
For example, if you worked as a project manager, you should not describe its smallest details. It is enough to highlight the essence of the project and show its significance. However, it is important to focus on how you, as a manager, organized the workflow, how you assigned roles to your team members, on what basis you delegated responsibilities to them, how did you achieve maximum productivity from them, and so on. Your employer will be most interested in your leadership skills and whether you can apply them in a new place.
If you were engaged in a specific area of work, it is important to focus on the practical application of your result. IT experts advise to talk about their achievements on the principle: In the course of project X, implemented using technologies A, B, C, I designed and developed module K, which made it possible to relieve the load on server L on 70%. Then you can clarify, due to what you managed to achieve this effect. But it is not necessary to list at the same time, what difficulties you encountered in your work, or why everything worked poorly before you.
Here are some examples. tricky questions asked at the interview of an analyst in the field of economics:
"How do you estimate the amount of beer sold at a football match? " (question from ABC Channel)
"Is it worth building a processing center in Amsterdam? " (question from Amazon)
Learn specific industry terms in English. Let's give an example from journalistic practice. Situations are not uncommon when the source of information asks to preserve his anonymity. However, in English this phenomenon is not determined by the literal translation of the familiar word “anonymous” - anonymously. In English journalism there is special phrase — not for attribution. Or, for example, in the IT environment you may come across the term DMZ - demilitarized zone (demilitarized zone). Here we are not talking about military operations. By this term, programmers designate a network that is added between a secured and external network to create an additional level of security. To be aware of such subtleties, you need to study specialized English-language literature. If you do not know a term in English, the employer will decide that you are incompetent.
Also, the employer will ask questions regarding your personality. You may be asked about your strengths and weaknesses (What are your strengths and weaknesses?). When answering this question, Americans are advised to call real weaknesses, but also show how you are trying to correct your shortcomings.
An example of a successful response: I admit being a bit of a perfectionist. Sometimes when I'm working on a big project, I focus too much on details. But you’ve learned. (I admit that I am a bit of a perfectionist. Sometimes, when I work on a large project, I concentrate too much on the details. But I already understood that it is not always useful and possible to try to perfect my work).
In his book 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, the author Vicki Oliver offers and this answer"I am extremely impatient. I expect my employees to prove themselves on the very first assignment. If they fail, my tendency is to stop delegating to them and start doing everything myself. To compensate for my own weakness, however, I have started to really prep my people on exactly what will be expected of them ” (I am very impatient. I expect that my employees will begin to show themselves from the very first task. And if they do not succeed, I will cease to delegate powers to them and begin to do everything on my own. But to compensate for this weakness, I can train employees by explaining to them what exactly is expected of them).
You may be asked about your biggest accomplishments and failures. For example: "Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision but didn't have all the information you needed ” (Tell us about the situation when you had to make a decision without having enough information). It is important for the employer to know that you are a team player and are able to find a way out of difficult situations.
A block of questions awaits you about your old job... The employer will want to know why you left your last job (Why did you leave your last job?) And what you think of your former boss. You will not always be asked about it directly, but the implications of your answer will be analyzed. Don't try to describe yourself as the perfect person who is willing to work under the guidance of even the most talented boss. It is considered bad form in both Russia and the United States to speak ill of your previous management or colleagues. The interviewer may decide that you are not a moral fit for their company. It is best to focus not on conflicts with your boss, but on your pursuit of development. An example of a successful answer: “My potential for growth in this area was limited at AAA because of the size of the company and the fact that expansion wasn't a part of its strategic plan ” (My ability to grow in this industry was limited at AAA due to the size of the company and the fact that expansion was not part of the current strategic plan).
American business consultants also advise avoiding such answers:
- My work wasn't much of a challenge. (My work posed no particular difficulty.)
- The work was no longer interesting. (I was no longer interested in this job.)
- The pay was too low. (The salary was too small.).
In the eyes of the employer, this may be a signal that you will be ready to leave the new place as soon as you do not like something.
Questions about your career vision. Often it is important for employers in the US to know what you want from life and what your career goals are (What are your long-term career goals?, Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? (“What are your long-term career goals ?, Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years?).
Before the interview, you also need to collect maximum information about the companyin which you are going to get a job, read news about the activities of their competitors and analyze information on the industry as a whole. You may be directly asked what you know about the company: “What do you know about our company? “(What do you know about our company?).
Questions to the employer
You will also be asked to ask questions to the employer. Experts advise you not to start with the size of your salary, but with clarifying questions about your responsibilities. So you show that you are guided by the specifics of the company and carefully read the requirements for the vacancy. On American websites it is advised to make a statement in the form of a question that would show your qualifications, confidence and willingness to work in this place, as well as understand the problems of the employer and feel your responsibility.
Here are some questions about the company.
- Can you give me some examples of the most and least desirable aspects of the company's culture? (Could you give some examples of the most and least desirable aspects of a company's culture?).
- How does your company define and measure success? (How does your company determine and evaluate success?).
As for the work itself, you can ask:
- will you work independently or in a team (Will I work independently or in a team?),
- what will be the next step in the employment process (What is the next step in the hiring process?),
- toWhat are the most important tasks I have to complete in the first 60 days? (What are the most important tasks that I should accomplish in the first 60 days?),
- who should you contact if you have any questions (Who should I contact if I have any further questions?).
A number of authors advises to prove himself as an initiative employee and to ask more non-trivial questions. For example, Stephanie daniel, senior vice president of the largest recruitment agency Keystone Associates, advises to ask employer following:
"Is there a work issue that keeps you up at night and, given what you know about my background, how do you think I could help? " (You already know about my past work experience, and if there is some actual work problem that literally keeps you awake at night, how do you think, how can I help you?). As Stefani notes, answering this question, the interviewer will have to introduce you as an employee who can help you solve actual problems.
Another question of a similar type: “What's the most rewarding aspect of your work? What advice would you give to a newcomer at your company? " (What is the most pleasant aspect in your work? What advice would you give to someone who starts working in your company?).
You can also ask the employer to describe exactly how he imagines the ideal candidate for the position, what qualities and why are so important to him (Could you describe your ideal candidate for this job? Why are these qualities important to you?).
At the same time, the author is advised to avoid questions that may cause a negative impression on the interviewer, for example, a question about the schedule of weekends and holidays, or a question about the possibility of remote work that was asked too early - at least before you could demonstrate your interest in work and desire to contribute to the common cause. You should also be careful with the question of career opportunities.
"The desire for career growth is admirable- says Stephanie. - However, the interviewer may get the idea that the position you are applying for does not interest you at all, and you will try to use it only as a push to a higher position. Your task is to show that you really want to benefit the company, that you are committed to long-term work and the main thing for you is professional growth, use this particular wording ”.
Needless to say, you need a high level of English in order to maximize the profit to present yourself at the interview. Even if you are a technician, and your specialization does not require proficiency in English, weak English will prevent you from confidently passing the interview.
Therefore, the interview must be prepared carefully, it is best to rehearse possible questions and answers with a friend, colleague or teacher. Training with a teacher is most effective: he will help you write a story about yourself in English for an interview, He will teach you to competently talk about his education, experience and competitive advantages, give answers to various questions, formulate his questions to the employer and operate with professional vocabulary. To do this, you simulate a real interview and lose some of his scenarios - so you will be ready for anything.
You can find such a teacher in the online school of English. Inglex - select one of the 200 teachers and take a free trial lesson with him. For a few individual lessons on the course "Preparing for an interview in English" you will learn how to behave at the interview, what you can say to the employer, and what you should not, and learn how to present yourself profitably. If necessary, the teacher will help you competently create a resume and a cover letter.
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