If you are applying for a job in the United States it is important for you to know a little about what customarily happens at a job interview as well as some of the cultural norms related to job interviews in the United States.
First of all, before you even go to a job interview you will have to have a resume ready. A resume is a brief summary of a person’s academic, occupational, and personal achievements. Some resumes are just a page long, while others are multiple pages long. This depends on a person’s work experience and what type of job the person is applying to. Before attending an interview you will need to prepare your resume. This United States government website gives great information about preparing a resume for the American job market: www.careeronestop.org/ResumesInterviews.
Once your resume is prepared and you have been invited to an interview there a few cultural norms you should be aware of before going to the interview. First, it is customary to arrive for an interview 15 minutes before the interview is set to begin. When arriving for an interview you (the interviewee) should let the secretary know you are there and be prepared to wait in case the person interviewing you (the interviewer) is running late. It is generally considered very bad etiquette to arrive to a job interview late. Dressing appropriately for your interview is vital as well. Dressing in a business suit or other nice professional wear is important in order to give off a good first impression. When you meet your interviewer you should shake his or her hand and introduce yourself by first and last name. It may be appropriate to hand your interviewer your resume at the outset of your interview, but if you do not do this you should be sure to leave your resume with your interviewer at the end of your interview.
During a job interview it is common to be asked a number of questions, but it is important for you to ask questions too. Thinking of questions you have about the job or company ahead of time is a good idea, though you probably shouldn’t bring your written list of questions with you, you should keep your questions in mind to ask at appropriate times throughout the interview.
While talking with your interviewer, it is important to remain professional, not ask the interviewer questions that are too personal or talk too personally about yourself or your life. Also, it is a no-no to talk badly about a former employer during a job interview. It is best to keep this type of negative commentary to yourself.
During a typical interview in the United States you are likely to be asked some of the following questions. After each question below I have given some tips on how to answer these questions in parentheses.
Can you tell me about yourself?
(Be brief and limit your comments to your professional life for the most part.)
What are your strengths?
(This is your chance to tell them the best parts about yourself, don’t be shy or too modest.)
What are your weaknesses?
(This is not an invitation to talk in depth about your personal life, you should try to make this into something positive.)
What is your ideal job?
(Talk about why the job you are interviewing for is your ideal job, even if it is not. Alternatively, talk about how the job you are interviewing for will help you to obtain your ideal job.)
Why are you leaving your current job?
(Remember to not speak badly about your current employer or job. You might discuss why you are looking for new opportunities.)
Do you have any questions for me?
(Yes! Always ask some thoughtful questions.)