Job Applications and Interviews – The Basics

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Getting ready for any type of job interview can be both a nerve-wracking and an exciting process, especially being in a new country. With the process being a little overwhelming at first, ISO is here to make sure you are fully prepared for browsing, researching, and interviewing for a position. Be sure to check with your international student services office for help on how to understand the proper authorization you may need for a position. 

Browsing for a Position Online

If you are interested in looking online, there are two great sites for you to take advantage of when seeking employment. The first is HandShake, an online platform that is hosted through your school.  Most universities have a partnership with HandShake, automatically setting up accounts for their students.  Through your account, you can look through thousands of job postings.  Sometimes schools will post on campus positions on Handshake. If you are looking for off-campus employment, you can apply filters to narrow your search and find what you are looking for – whether it is based on location, industry, or type of job. Employers trust this platform and will even indicate on their job posting if they are willing to sponsor work visas – making your search easier. This is especially important when on OPT and seeking full time employment. 

The second online platform is LinkedIn. Unlike HandShake, this platform is not associated through your school.  Students, professionals, and businesses around the world utilize LinkedIn to connect. Similar to HandShake, you can browse job postings based on type of position, industry, and location. Just create an account, fill in your personal work and academic experience, and begin connecting and searching for a job that matches your desired goals. 

Applying to the Right Position

1. Research

After you browse through job postings, to see the list of skills and qualifications needed, the most important thing to do is to do a little homework on the company. Read their websites to understand their values and core mission. If you feel what they have to offer matches what you are looking for in terms of not only your skill-set, but also your goals, then continue the application process. 

2. Revise

Before submitting a resumé, it is important to note that nowadays, robots are usually the first to read your resumé. Before a company will even consider a resumé for review by human eyes, artificial intelligence scans your resumé to see if your credentials and experiences match what the employer is seeking in a candidate. If it is a position you are interested in, make sure that the keywords you use in your resumé match up with the key words used in the job posting. If you possess particular skills that the job posting lists, make sure your resumé includes and highlights those skills.

Now that you have submitted your resumé and you’ve gotten a call for an interview, there are a few more things to think about:

1. Phone Interviews

If an employer is interested by your resumé and application, then they will reach out to schedule an interview. Some employers prefer to do a first round of interviews over the phone. This typically is a 15 to 30-minute phone call where the interviewer will ask basic questions to see if you are a good fit and should come in for an in-person interview. Examples of questions are:  Tell us a little more about yourself; why you applied to this position; what are you looking for in this role; explain your past experience in a little more detail. 

2. Prepare

Once you are invited in for an in-person interview, it is important to come prepared. Print out extra copies of your resumé. You will not always be asked for it in an interview, but if you are and you do not have enough copies of your resumé, then the employer will take note.  You would much rather be remembered as coming in well-prepared. Interviewers will end the interview by asking if you have any questions for them. This is where it is important to ask meaningful questions about the company and the position. Show that you have researched the company and are interested in learning more about them. You can also ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of the position you are applying for. 

3. Attire

When it comes to an interview, first impressions are everything. If they have reviewed your resumé, then the interviewers should have a basic idea of the experiences you have to offer, but this is the first time actually meeting you. When it comes to your outfit, you would prefer to be over dressed rather than under-dressed. Sometimes the job posting will indicate what the expected dress code for the company is, however, the general rule to follow for job interviews is to dress in business attire. You should not be wearing casual clothes to an interview. 

4. Practice

Nerves can get the best of everyone – it is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something to acknowledge and try to work on. When it comes to a first-round interview, there are general questions that you should be able to answer on the spot. Make sure you know your resumé well and can elaborate on the experiences and skills listed on there. Think of any additional examples or stories you have that you can tell in the interview to demonstrate the skills you have to offer for the position.  A great way to practice is to have a friend help you with a mock interview. Practice answering questions and record how it goes. This way, you can play it back and see where you would like to improve. No matter what happens, it is most important to be yourself.  If it is a right fit, then the interview will go well. Practice, work hard, and the right position will come around. 

Ensure the Proper Paperwork

Internships are considered a part of Curricular Practical Training. Meaning, 20 hours weekly that you can work, that is paid, off campus, and supports your educational studies. When school is not in session, you are able to work full time, up to 40 hours per week. Before beginning your position, make sure you contact your school to get the proper documentation to be authorized to work. Submit a CPT form and discuss with your DSO about updating your I-20. Remember to visit your school’s international student services office for any additional support for the necessary paperwork for international students working within internship positions.  You have to work hard, but you just might be offered a really cool opportunity to help jump start your career. 


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