Things to consider when applying for a job in a foreign company. Part 1: job interview in American companies
Large international employers are present in all parts of the world and you can find a job in a multinational corporation being virtually from any country. In this article, we will look at the main cultural characteristics of interviewing for American companies. As well as the expectations of US employers from foreign job seekers. In the subsequent articles of this series, we will consider the features of pre-employment and employment in other western (Germany, France, Sweden, Britain) and eastern companies (India, Japan, China, South Korea).
American companies were the first to expand in other countries with lower payroll expenditures and high-quality workforce. Most American corporation have offices and factories in Asia, India, Eastern and Western Europe and Latin America. The most successful manufacturing companies from the USA have most of their production in China and other Asian countries. And the most successful American IT businesses mostly employ software engineers from India, Pakistan and Russia. In general, employees from China, India, Russia and many other countries from all over the world are often priority candidates comparing to candidates from the US. The reason for this is high level of education and professional expertise of foreign job seekers.
American companies: requirements for applicants
In recent years, it has been common for most large companies around the world to use American personnel assessment technologies. For example aptitude tests and assessment days were purely American HR tools 20-30 years ago. But now 100% of large employers use these technologies. But still, in many companies there are clear national characteristics that applicants should consider in order to create a good impression about themselves.
Let’s start with exactly how interviews are conducted in American companies and what American employers expect from job seekers.
Loyalty and corporate interests
In the United States, each company has its own guidelines for determining a candidate’s suitability for a job. These principles allow you to assess whether you have the necessary knowledge and skills, as well as to ensure that you fit into their corporate culture.
The culture of communication in American companies is probably one of the friendliest. But at the same time, job seekers and employees are expected to be willing to put the company’s interests ahead of their own. For example, in most American companies, it is the norm to give urgent attention to work at any time of the day and even on weekends if the need arises. Some American companies (for example, P&G, Coca-Cola, etc.) maintain an outright idolatrous culture of loyalty to their company. However, this is not unique to American companies. In Japanese and South Korean companies, employees are required even more in this regard.
Job interviews in American companies
The first stages of pre-employment process for US companies are resume/cover letter analysis and psychometric aptitude tests. They are generally common for most businesses worldwide. But job interviews for a US company can be different.
Job interviews are often stressful, especially for young job seekers. The main strategy is to make calm and self-confidence: this is what always looks strong.
American managers are usually very friendly, smiling and pleasant to talk to. Stress interview techniques are not common in American companies. But at the same time, American HR agents are professionals in their field, and they know how to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your abilities. Therefore, you should not expect high marks from them only on the basis of a pleasant conversation.
When answering questions, smile and feel free to think before answering the question. If you are offered water before the interview, take it. Taking a sip of water before answering a question can give you time to think about your answer.
Below are a few more tips to help you perform your best when interviewing for an American company.
Maintain eye contact
For American companies, an important trait of a future employee is self-confidence. Natural and steady eye contact creates an impression of confidence. Therefore, maintaining eye contact with the interviewer is both a sign of interest, respect and a sign of your self-confidence.
Use positive body language
When you first greet your interviewer, you can offer an open smile and a strong handshake. In the US and in other Western counties shaking hands with someone of the opposite sex is okay. Try to sit up straight and avoid crossing your arms over your chest – you will look closed and defiant. Keep your phone off and don’t look at your watch every now and then. Your openness will tell the interviewer that you value time, are interested in the process, and actively participate in the conversation.
Show your qualifications
In Russia, China, India and in many other Eastern cultures, boasting is not welcome. But at an interview with an American, on the contrary, it is better to talk about yourself in a positive way, without mentioning troubles. Be proud of the work you’ve done throughout your career and feel free to share your accomplishments. This will help the interviewer understand what makes you different from other applicants.
Be prepared to provide specific facts and figures about your work, the interviewer will probably want to know them. Don’t be shy about your accomplishments. Let the interviewer know what real contribution you can make to the company.
Use examples with short start, middle and end
Americans value their time. If asked to talk about yourself or a previous job, be brief. Your response should include an introduction where you explain the situation, a main part describing the problem or task, and an end where you show how you solved the problem or completed the task.
A good way to help you form a comprehensive answer to interview questions is to use the STAR approach:
Focus on the positive
Some common interview questions require you to explain potentially negative situations. These can be such as when you faced a problem, how you dealt with an uncomfortable situation, or why you left your last job. There is no way for you to speak negatively about your past job or about someone you worked with. Your interviewer is trying to understand what you may have learned from negative experiences, your problem-solving skills, and how you can handle pressure. Instead of showing the negative, focus your response on the positive aspects of the situation. Tell them how you overcame the challenge or learned from your mistakes.
Common interview questions in American companies
As a rule, a job interview in American companies takes place in the form of an ordinary dialogue and it may seem that there is nothing complicated in it. This is a deceptive bias, and you must prepare for it. One of the best ways to prepare is to practice interview questions.
Here are some general questions you may be asked. These are general questions, they may not be the same as what you will have in a real interview, but using them will give you practice in answering other similar questions.
Tell us about yourself.
Your interviewer does not ask you to tell him about the facts of your personal life, and, in fact, he has no legal basis for this. But he or she needs information about your previous career. Take this opportunity to talk about your past responsibilities and future career goals. Explain why you chose this profession and what you are going to achieve.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Even if you do not get this particular question, you need to know the answer to it, it will be useful for answering other questions. For example, if your strong point is analytical skills, you can use that to talk about how you were able to use certain data to solve a problem.
When asked to name your weaknesses, the interviewer looks for examples of how you recognize your weaknesses and work on yourself on this basis. Focus your response on your job rather than personal weaknesses such as credit card debt or poor driving experience.
A good example of this would be: “I am spending more time than necessary on a task that can be assigned to someone else. Although I have never missed deadlines, I understand that I could use my time more rationally. I tried to set deadlines for myself, only then move on to the next task. But I see that multitasking could be more effective in some situations.”
This example identifies time management gaps and shows that you learnt the lesson and improved.
Why are you interested in this position / company?
It is important that you study everything about the future position and the employer before the interview. Even if you’ve applied for multiple jobs and passed more than one interview, the interviewer will want to know that you are interested in the job and that you took the time to learn about their company. You could talk about an article that you read about this company that impressed you. Or how your skills can be useful in the company. Be sure to give examples. Read more about this in our article How to answer the question: “Why do you want this job?”
Tell me about a time when you were under a pressure. How did you manage? What was the result?
This is just one example of a behavioral interview question you might come across. You need to give examples of actual behavior in stressful situations. Using the STAR approach is the best way to answer a question like this. Explain how you dealt with stress at work and how you ensured a positive result.
What is your greatest achievement?
This question is another example of where you can share your achievements. You should this confidently. Provide an answer with a final statement that goes something like this: “My achievement was to save hundreds of hours of work time for my company by developing and implementing an internal tool.”
Where do you see yourself in five years?
With this question, your interviewer will want to make sure that you are not going to quit this job after a while. Convince them that you really want to work for the company and build a career in its structure.
Why should we hire you?
Such question is a great opportunity to explain to your interviewer why you are the best fir for the job. Provide examples from your previous experience and examples of achievements that correspond to the job you are applying for. It would be appropriate to talk about your willingness to work in a team, organizational and communication skills and motivation. Your answers should be thoughtful, but sufficiently short and linked to company information. Do not rely only on superficial information only from the company’s website.
Your questions to the interviewer
We’ve written a number of times why it’s important that you also ask questions in your interview. This is especially important if you are interviewing for a foreign company where the culture is different.
Examples might be: “Tell me about the day-to-day responsibilities in this position” or “Can you tell me about the problem you have now and why you need someone to solve it?” You shouldn’t ask about salary and benefits in your first interview. In American companies, this issue is usually considered in the process of subsequent interviews.
Read more about questions to the employer here: 8 smart questions for the employer at your job interview
Summing up the interview
At the end of the interview, do not forget to confidently shake hands with the interviewer and thank him for the opportunity and his time. Ask about your next steps in the pre-employment process. Send an email to thank the employer representative one more time.
The first interview can only be the first stage to get your dream job. Stay positive. Regardless of the results of this interview, you gain valuable experience. The interview process can be challenging, but you are stronger and you are the best fit for this job.
American companies, in our opinion, are leaders in terms of HR technologies and personnel management. And the American management culture is spreading all over the world.
We believe the key to success in getting your dream job is preparation. Spend 5-6 days on quality preparation: write a competent resume and cover letter, prepare for psychometric aptitude tests and job interview, and you will get the job you want. Good luck!
Read more about successful interview tips in our articles: