The international student's guide to acing your job interview

Sean Campbell
Sean Campbell
Published on: 5 May 2021 • 9 min read

Just as we celebrate graduating from university, life’s next big challenge presents itself—starting our career by finding a job. 

And while acing your job interview might seem a daunting task, let’s take an optimistic outlook: Every so-called challenge can be viewed as an opportunity! 

When searching for the first job after graduation, getting an interview should be seen as a little victory. After all, the graduate job market is pretty competitive, so getting to talk face to face with an employer shows you're doing something right. 

Oh and since we mentioned it, let’s remember the parts of the job hunt that happen long before the interview. Check out our articles on how to write your CV, 8 social media sites to land your first job, and how to create a winning LinkedIn profile to create your first job

But now that you’ve got an opportunity lined up, it’s time to focus on some interview preparation tips to help you win that new job, as well as some tips to help with acing your interview on the day itself.

How to prepare for a job interview ahead of time

  1. Get to know the company
  2. Get to know the brand
  3. For video interviews, know your tech
  4. Study job interview FAQs and answers
  5. Know how to answer THAT question
  6. Prepare some thoughtful questions

1. Get to know the company

Do some research on the company you’re interviewing with to get to know them better. Try to build an understanding not just of the company, but of the product or service they provide. This will stand you in great stead as you’ll know a little more about them, and about your potential role within the whole company. 

There’s also another reason why you should study up on the company as part of your job interview preparation…

One of the very first questions they might ask you is “What do you know about our company?”. Get that answer right and you’re setting yourself up for a great interview. You see? It’s an opportunity for you to impress! 

2. Get to know the brand

As well as learning about the company and what they do, spend some time on their website and/or social media channels to figure out their “brand” and “personality”. 

You see, a good company website or social channel will reflect a lot about them, the work culture and environment, and the people that work there. 

By touching base with the brand, you might even learn more about the tone of interview you can expect. For example, a corporate law firm might be quite serious in tone, whereas a marketing or advertising agency might be a little more casual and relaxed. 

3. For video interviews, know your tech

This is as simple as interview preparation tips get, but don’t let faulty or complicated technology get in the way of your interview! If you’ve agreed to meet online, spend a few minutes figuring out how to use it. You don’t want to end up stuck on ‘mute’ or with your video turned off. Also, make sure that your WiFi connection is strong! 

4. Study job interview FAQs and answers

We mentioned one interview FAQ above, but here are a few others you should prepare for. Remember that while all of these differ, they all give you a chance to promote your own skills, suitability and enthusiasm for the role. 

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your long term career goals?
  • Tell us about a time you overcame a challenge or solved a problem.
  • If you were an animal, which would you choose to be?

Yes, the last one is quite strange isn’t it? But believe it or not, one or two quirky interview questions is quite normal. This kind of question is used as a kind of psychological evaluation to learn more about your personality. 

5. Know how to answer THAT question

THAT question? What’s THAT question? 

It’s the one single question that people really, REALLY struggle with in interviews: 

“What are your weaknesses?”

OK first things first, under NO circumstances should you say, “I don’t have any weaknesses,” or, “I’m too much of a perfectionist”. 

DON’T DO IT! You’ll come across as insincere, arrogant, or just deluded… 

So how should you answer? Be honest, but not too honest. Use this question as an opportunity to show your desire for professional growth or development. Whatever your weakness might be, demonstrate that you’ve addressed it and are doing something specific to overcome it. 

You see, by answering this question, you’re not quite turning a negative into a positive, but you are turning a negative into a potential positive. 

6. Prepare some thoughtful questions

Pretty much every interviewer will give you an opportunity to ask them some questions before the end. Make sure to take this chance as it shows your interest and curiosity about the company. 

Here’s a little trick to cover your bases here: Ask three or four questions— one or two about the role, one about the company culture, and one question of the interviewer themselves. 

For the first, make sure your question hasn’t already been answered in the job description. You might want to ask about the team you’ll be working with, or how your job performance will be analyzed. And you should absolutely ask about your potential for growth within the company! 

On the company culture, you could ask what a normal day in the office looks like, the dynamic between employees, or any team building exercises they might do.  

And for the last one (and this is a really great question to ask), you could ask one of the interviewers why they love working for the company, or what their favourite thing is about working there. This might seem cheeky, but again it shows that you’re both curious and serious about working for them. 

Tips for acing your job interview on the day

  1. Dress for the part
  2. Small talk counts
  3. Listen to them
  4. Be yourself and just have a conversation
  5. Say ‘thanks’ 
  6. Learn from experience 

1. Dress for the part

Even if it’s online! First impressions aren’t everything, but they do matter. Especially when an interview lasts for about 30 minutes on average. Dress smart, keep yourself tidy and try to nail that first impression. 

For online interviews, try to make sure that your space is tidy, clean and clutter free. If you’re really not sure about the dress code, check the interview invite as it might say something. If not, have a look on their website and see if there are any pictures of the employees at work. Then, dress how they dress!  

2. Small talk counts

Usually the first minute or two of any interview involves some “small talk” - light conversation to break the ice and settle in. This, just like above, is a great opportunity to create a good impression of yourself. 

Be polite and try to open up a little. Even if you’re nervous, tell them! They’ll be quick to reassure you that this is normal and can help set you at ease. 

3. Listen to them

Not only will listening intentently help you answer their questions in a suitable way, it can also give you more ideas for questions to ask towards the end of the interview! 

And as well as this, listening intently shows that you’re well… paying attention and understanding what they’re saying… It might sound a little simple, but if you look distracted while the interviewers are talking, it won’t create a great impression. 

4. Be yourself and just have a conversation

While an interview is a test of sorts, it’s also just a conversation. Question and answer, understanding and responding, sharing and being shared with, that’s how we humans interact! 

So try to relax, be yourself, and just talk to them! This will set everybody at ease, and make things flow much, much better. 

Remember, the interviewer is trying to find out that you’re a good personal fit as well as a professional one! 

5. Say “thanks”

A little thank you can go a long way. When the interview comes to an end, don’t just log off or run out of the room (even if you really want to). Take a second to thank them for considering you for the role, and giving you the opportunity. 

And don’t just leave it there either. Follow up with a short email to say thanks after you’ve gone. This will let them know that you’re still focussed on the job, and helps create a lasting impression. 

And finally, one more tip for acing a job interview: 

6. Learn from the experience

This might be your first job interview, but it almost certainly won’t be your last. This is just the beginning of an exciting career after all, and with growth and promotions come even more interviews. 

So try to take as many lessons as you can from the whole interview process. Make a few notes on things you could have done better, and bear them in mind for next time. Even better, ask for feedback from the employer, but only do this after you’ve learned their decision.

We hope that you’ve learned a lot in reading this article, and that you now feel more confident about acing your job interview when the time comes. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about studying abroad, check out the huge range of universities we can help you apply to. Get started with Edvoy or click the button below!

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Sean Campbell
Written By
Sean Campbell

Sean is a writer, copywriter & editor from Ireland.


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