Things foriegn students should know about interviewing in the USA

We hire from 1-5 students every year for our development, QA and support departments.  I receive at least 20 applications per position and interview as many as four students per position.  Sometimes they have enough savvy to ask why they weren’t picked.  I did the same thing on the last position I wasn’t offered.

Here is what I wrote to the young man and felt I should blog it for future reference:.  US Students could learn from these as well.

1. Hygiene.   Americans are particular about hygiene.  We are spoiled by our (current) access to water and to deodorant.

2. Resume.  You need to put together a resume that is that of a professional who has taken additional schooling.  Not a student who has work experience.

3. Diligence.   If you don’t spend HOURS going through a company’s website you aren’t ready for the interview.  Heck, do a web search on the hiring manager – you may never know what you’ll find.

4. Assessment.  Think about the questions I ask.  Having honest, if not painful, answers ready is important.  Those answers include how you are addressing deficiencies.  I had an interview for a Sr IT position and they asked “tell us about a major project failure”.  I had to answer about one that cost me a company.  THAT IS PAINFUL – but necessary.  Did I learn from the failure?  YES.

5. Attitude.  Don’t be hungry.  Sure you want a job, so does everyone else. Why does that company want you to help them?  Be cool, confident (NOT SMUG), and casual.  Having a cool interest and knowledge of the company beats exuberance every time (at least in my view).

* Questions I ask to help break the ice and get the prospect talking about themselves.

Personality Questions:


  • Last several movies watched:
  • Last several books read:
  • Magazines/webzines/blogs regularly read:
  • Pet (here or at home):
  • Musical Tastes:
  • What are your favorite foods:
  • Hobbies:
  • Best Traits:
  • Worst Traits:
  • Traits you are working on improving:
  • YOUR Biggest accomplishment
  • YOUR Biggest failure
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