Interviewing Tips for International Students

Once the employer has reviewed these documents from all applicants, they will call their top applicants to set up an interview. There may be only one interview or possibly up to seven depending on the employer and size of the company. This process can take months so be prepared. After the interview has finished, if you have made it to the next round, you will be asked back for another interview with a different company representative. During this interview, the applicant must be able to articulate their qualifications, market themselves effectively, and convey a genuine interest in the position and company. Being aware of the cultural norms in the US is essential in order to avoid sending the wrong message to the interviewer. For instance, it is common in many cultures to avoid eye contact with someone in a position of authority as a sign of respect. Unfortunately, avoiding eye contact in the US can often send the impression that the person is being deceitful or is lacking confidence which can be detrimental in an interview. You may wish to practice your interview skills before meeting with an employer and the Career Center can help. Call 417-836-5636 to make an appointment for a practice interview or register for Mock Interview Day to practice with an employer.

There are many laws in place to protect against discrimination including a provision that does not allow hiring based on national origin, birthplace, cultural background, heritage, religion, or ancestry. However, employers are allowed to ask about the applicant’s authorization to work in the US on an application or during an interview.

Illegal questions

  • What country are you from?
  • Are you from the Middle East?
  • What religion are you?

Legal questions

  • Are you currently authorized to work in the US without restrictions?
  • Will you now or in the near future require employment visa sponsorship (ie..H-1B)?

Employers are allowed to set policies stating that they will not sponsor, which in turn allows them to not interview F-1 students, even those with OPT. After each interview, it is important to send a thank you letter to the person/people who interviewed you within 24 hours.

Some companies will also conduct a background check or have the applicant complete a battery of tests. These tests are a way for the employer to measure skills, personality, or ethics as a way to identify ideal candidates. When the tests and interviewing process are complete, the employer will notify the applicant they wish to hire and extend a job offer. Many companies will have the applicant submit to drug testing and a physical examination before they can legally begin work due to insurance issues.

Although the job search is a lot of work, it is well worth it to gain valuable experience in the US and a paycheck. To work for pay in the US, a social security number is needed and filing a tax return every year is a requirement for international students who have earned income. The Social Security Administration will be able to help international students acquire a social security number and card. The ESL Tax Clinic is a free resource for you to file your taxes for free. Even if the international student has not earned money in the US, he/she must file and 8843 form and the tax clinic can help.  Review some helpful tax information needed before you file any employment paperwork.

Additional resources