Navigating American interviews is a large part of your internship search. Interviewing for an internship in a new country is a learning experience. As an international student American interviews are an opportunity to practice new communication and cultural skills. Interview preparation helps you plan what to say, how to act, and how to leave a good impression. Focus and preparation helps you succeed in your interview.
Start your interview preparation by understanding the American interview structure.
An American interview follows this structure:
- Behavioral/Technical questions
- Candidate questions
- Closing details
Interviews always begin with introductions. The interviewer will introduce themselves. If there are multiple people they will take turns introducing their name and title.
During the introduction you are expected to:
- Shake everyone’s hands
- Make eye contact when shaking hands
- Be enthusiastic
- Engage in small talk
For phone or virtual/Skype interviews there will still less small talk than in-person interviews.
You are evaluated starting from the introduction process. Focus on creating warmth and enjoy meeting people, even if it feels awkward or you feel nervous.
After small talk the interview questions begin. The interviewer usually starts with a question about your background. The interviewer often states:
- “Tell us about yourself”
- “Walk me through your resume.”
This is an opportunity for you to share your background. Share your professional story summarizing your professional and academic experience. Practice by keeping your story under 2 minutes.
Next, the interviewer will shift to specific behavioral and/or technical interview questions. Behavioral questions are designed to get you to talk about your prior experience. Employers want to understand how you think and how you act in professional situations. Employers are looking for answers that demonstrate:
- Communication abilities
- Leadership abilities
- Problem solving abilities
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Technical skills
Behavioral questions are a majority of your interview experience. For technical roles, behavioral questions are usually added alongside the technical challenge or presentation.
After the interviewer asks you all their questions, they will ask you if you have questions. During in-person interviews it’s recommended to ask around 3-5 questions, depending on how much time is left in the interview. During phone interviews limit questions to 1-2.
After your questions ask about the time frame for the decision process and the next steps.
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- When do anticipate you’ll finish the selection process?
Lastly thank them for the opportunity. Also, let them know that you’d like to work for their company. State your interest in working for them.
“Thank your for the opportunity to speak with you today. I learned a lot and I remain very interested in this position. I look forward to hearing from you.” This direct communication style tells the employer you’re still interested and helps them make decisions.