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How to Prepare for a Job Interview as an International Student

There are 2 types of interview questions, traditional and behavioral. Before going into an interview, you must prepare for both types of questions. Let’s look into what is the difference between the two types. 

Traditional questions

 Traditional questions are open-ended questions. Employers are trying to understand your motivations, confirm your qualification, fit in the company culture and team. Traditional Questions are often asked at the beginning of the job interview or at phone interviews. Questions to expect would be something like this.

  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What can you tell us about our company/product?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

 Behavioral questions

Behavioral questions gauge an employee’s future performance based on past behavior. Behavioral questions often start with “tell me about the time when ….”

A behavioral interview is considered a structured interview. Employers already define what type of skills they look for in a candidate. Often, interviewers have a set of questions to ask the candidates and pre-determined the rating scale. This helps compare them against other applicants. Questions to expect would be something like this.

  • Tell me about the time when you had to work in a large team
  • Tell me about the time when you worked towards a tight deadline
  • Tell me about the time when you had to lead a team
  • Tell me about the time when you had to persuade someone
  • Tell me about the time when you faced a conflict with a colleague at work
  • Tell me about the time when you delivered a presentation you are proud of

How to prepare for an interview

Step 1: Understand who you are interviewing with, find out by asking a recruiter who is in charge of your file. w

Step 2: Look at their interviewer’s professional journey – highlight similarities between you / interviewer and bring them up as appropriate

Step 3: Pull up the job description you applied for. Highlight key skill words from the job description. Do the following exercise to get started.

  • Ask yourself, after reading this job description, how would you describe an ideal candidate for this.
  • Put job descriptions into WordCloud to extract keywords. Now that you have a list of skills they want, write 1-2 stories about when you demonstrate these skills in your past experience.
  • Practice answering the questions by telling the success stories you wrote down.