Preparing for an interview can seem daunting. At one point or the other in the progression of your career, you’ll get to a point where you have to get interviewed. Being an immigrant or a newcomer doesn’t make it any easier. But how do you get comfortable enough to feel confident during your interview as an immigrant?
As a newcomer it can be challenging, so in this article you’ll find a couple of tips to help you feel ready for what to expect. As much as we’ll be digging into how being a new comer can affect your interview process, this article won’t be complete without first taking note of a few pointers when it comes to interviews in general. The first tip highlights this.
- Arrive early for the interview because this is a way for the interviewer to test for character. You are not the only one attending this interview and the interviewer will look out for fair ways to select a suitable candidate. Check for the location of the company a day before the interview and plan ahead.
- Dress appropriately. This goes without saying. People say dress how you want to be addressed and that sounds about right. Research the company and even if they have a dress down policy, try to look business casual. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Offer a firm handshake as this goes to show confidence. A more in-depth article on the importance of this has been shared in the past
- Smile. Be social. Start a small conversation – chat about the commute to the location or weather to get to know each other.
Share your story
Everyone has a different experience in life and you should feel comfortable about sharing your story. I once had someone tell me that at a previous interview he was asked: “what is a quality about you that you think we should know?”
His reply was unconventional. He started by explaining that he believed that he is a determined and motivated person because of his personal journey as an immigrant. He went ahead to explain how he had to go through a number of menial jobs to help him survive financially when he first arrived his new country. He continued by adding that this wasn’t a hindrance to his professional career as he was able to juggle his time, further his education and get prepared for his past role which had prepared him for the current role he was being interviewed for.
This candidate could have stated that he had his previous role as XXX which had prepared him for the role he was being interviewed for. But what good would that have done him? There is a slim chance that another candidate would have said something similar. Instead, he stood out with an authentic story which was his truth and he was able to land the opportunity. That story remains an icebreaker between him and his boss.
It’s important to note that telling your story needs to relate back to the question being asked. Be careful not to deviate from the point of discussion.
Nothing feels right more than being yourself and yet this can feel difficult to do as an immigrant. Maybe you feel that you sound different because of your accent and this might be a turnoff and you feel that you should sound a certain way.
Someone once told me that she felt isolated when she walked into an office for an interview and thought she was different and ‘didn’t belong’. While this might have been a true feeling, an interview means business. And to do business involves professionalism. So what does that mean?
- Be certain that the job you are going in for suits your personality. Research the job role, is this something you believe you can do long term or will you be merely pretending?
- Do you like the company culture? Research sites like Glassdoor to be well informed or check out LinkedIn for a bit of their culture. Check out general reviews of the company to know if there are any negative reports. A few other ways to get more information on this are as follows: the company website, blog and social media accounts. If they have YouTube videos, those also come in handy and check out if they have any news related stories.
Communicate in the language of your industry
The lingo of your field can go a really long way. For example, as an accountant going in for an interview, one would imagine that you would at some point during the interview use some words like ‘cash flow’, ‘chart of accounts’, etc. while answering related questions as it will show the interviewer that you are actually used to speaking in those terms.
If you are new to the field, then this will mean that you ought to do a great deal of research to familiarize yourself with some terms. You could schedule a coffee chat with someone in the same industry as yours to help you understand things better. This doesn’t mean that you should go about using some of the lingo when it’s unrelated, but you should be confident enough to show that you understand the business and industry.
Follow up with a thank-you note
Finally, a thank you note is never a bad idea as this is a way to remain on the mind of the interviewer especially if you have done a good job of impressing him/ her. Some interviewers will share a business card with you or you would possibly have had prior email conversations. LinkedIn is another place where you can send a quite note! A sample email is:
Hi [Name of Interviewer],
It was a pleasure getting to meet and interview with you for the [Title of Job Position] today. I want to emphasize just how excited I am about this opportunity. Please let me know if there is anything else I can forward along to make your hiring decision easier.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing back.
After the interview, feel free to ask the interviewer for a timeline to hear back on the interview. Follow up once more if you don’t hear back. After about three weeks, you can try to move on. Unfortunately, some companies may not reach out to inform you of a decision which can be frustrating. This also goes to the point that you shouldn’t focus on only one company when interviewing. Don’t get discouraged.
You’ll eventually get a job that you love and it will all be a thing of the past. Are you an immigrant currently interviewing? What challenges are you facing and how are you going about resolving it?
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