Getting into the job market or preparing for an interview as an immigrant can be a different experience. You are a newcomer with no network in your new country, little or no work experience, and need to learn the ropes in a new environment.
In this article, we will discuss how to prepare and excel in an interview as an immigrant. We will also share how to prepare for an interview here in Canada as the hiring process may be different than what you are used to.
We will make use of a case study to give you a step-by-step approach that you can apply to your job search strategy.
James aims to land a new role at ABC company as a Content Creator and has received an email notifying him of an interview. He is to prepare for the first interview with the recruiter in 2 days.
How should James approach this?
1. Research the company
Research the company as well as the role you have applied for. To do this:
a. Go to the original job posting where the job position was publicized. This could be on the job board or on the company website. In many cases, you will notice that you might have forgotten where the job was originally posted.
In such a case, somewhere to begin your search is on the company’s website. Many companies have the ‘Careers’ section somewhere at the footer of the website. Look out for the job posting. If the company has taken off the posting to reduce the number of applications being submitted, you can do a quick search on Google for:
‘[Name of Job position job position]‘ at ‘[Name of Company]‘
In our case study it will be Content Creator job position at ABC Company.
From the search results you’ll find the job description on the first result page on a number of other websites that you can quickly refer to.
Another option is to do a search in your email inbox. When you create a profile on a job board you receive an email notification for any job application you send. In most cases, you can click the hyperlink which should lead you straight to the job posting if it’s still available.
b. Read up the ‘About’ section of the company with the intention of understanding their business and what the company’s products or services are. Read up any press information that they have and if they have any corporate social responsibility plan. Understand their leadership team and learn more about the company.
c. Do a quick YouTube search for any short marketing videos the company must have published in the past. Many companies do short videos to promote their products or share more information about their company.
Even if you don’t understand the information on their website, these videos tend to break things down because the idea is to reach their ideal customer. Spending time watching these videos comes in really handy for you in the long run because you can then leverage on this for your interview.
2. Job responsibilities
Read up the job description especially the job responsibilities (the section which tells you what you will do on the job).
Sometimes the job description won’t explicitly list out the responsibilities or requirements and it may have a unique title. You can use your intuition to make your best judgment. See the screenshot of the sample responsibilities below.
Ask yourself: what have I done in my previous role that can be related to these responsibilities? How can I make it relevant and suitable to this role?
Remember, self-doubt may make you feel that you haven’t done something in the past, but most often than not, it’s the opposite! You can always relate your previous experience in one way or the other!
Preparing questions to create a scenario
One of the responsibilities in the screenshot provides:
Master the ability to tell the story of our brand, while collaborating with the Head of Content, through creating captivating content for website, social, promotional, and email that is original and on trend while also being consistent with brand voice and image.
a. Sample questions you could ask yourself using this responsibility are:
- What was the last marketing piece I wrote for my previous company?
- What was the last project I worked on with my previous boss to tell the company’s story?
- What were the major emails I sent out to clients from my previous company? Remember, even though the emails were escalation emails (if they were), it doesn’t matter because you responded to the client as expected by the company.
When you are able to answer these questions, you’ll have been ready for just the first responsibility. Now, you’ll do this for the remaining responsibilities in each job position to feel better prepared.
Thinking of a story to tie it together
b. The next step is to think of an example for each of the responsibilities and think of a story. The story should have a problem, challenge the customer faced, the solution you proferred, and end result.
See a sample job responsibility:
Ideate, pitch and contribute ideas and concepts and work with our Head of Content to plan video and photography production based on approved concepts.
“We had a new product/ feature and had the challenge of knowing the exact time to launch. After some brainstorming sessions, I pitched the idea of conducting surveys with our current clients to gauge their interests and timelines.
Using their feedback, we were able to understand their challenges and plan out a marketing schedule that was going to start out by giving temporary solutions to their challenges in different phases until the last phase which will result in a complete solution/ final release. For each feature released, we made out How-To videos to help with their training.
We basically adopted an agile approach. Customers who were interested in the new feature were put into the first batch of trials and we successfully launched the product at the end of the day with a number of positive feedback from customers.”
In your conversation, prepare stories that show how you solved a problem, led successfully (even if you were an individual contributor), and how you work well with team members. If you can display how you have gone beyond your job duties or grown a skill, that is equally a nice add on.
3. Job qualifications
The job qualifications provide the skills/ knowledge you should have to make a successful candidate. If you meet around 60% of the qualifications required, you are ready to go for that interview! You don’t have to meet 100% of the requirements.
Remember, in most cases, the emphasis is laid on whether you can do the job and complete work, not necessarily meet a set of criteria. It’s all about the results. So your focus should be on landing your dream job and excelling in it once you receive the offer.
Ask yourself: what am I lacking from the job qualifications? How can I make up for my weakness in these areas?
If there is any qualification you lack, think of how you are going to address it to feel prepared for any questions. Take free courses online to have the answers and learn more. Do Google researches to learn more.
Be prepared to tell the recruiter the steps you are taking to improve yourself and ultimately remove that weakness. You need to feel prepared to sound confident for any stage of the interview.
4. Research the interviewer
Go on LinkedIn and search for the interviewer. Look out for their previous experience and their expertise. This will help you in preparing because you will have an understanding of the hiring manager’s strengths and expertise and be better prepared to speak to this person.
You can also research current employees and how the career growth looks like in the company using LinkedIn.
5. Visit review platforms to prepare for the interview
With the improvement of technology has come the rise in transparency. Platforms like Glassdoor and Indeed come in helpful and useful in providing vital information.
Glassdoor gives employees the opportunity to anonymously review the company they have worked at or how an interview went. You will have access to possible interview questions that have been asked and you can get asked, the culture of the company, benefits, salary expectations, career growth expectations, etc.
6. Research other employees
Many interviews start out with “tell me about yourself”. Prepare to share a quick overview of yourself that takes your interviewers through your resume and displays your suitability for the role.
Start from your oldest experience and walk your way up to the most recent experience on your resume. This way it’s easily understandable to your audience.
7. Other tips
Listen carefully to questions being asked and feel free to think before answering. You don’t need to rush. For each answer apply the same strategy we mentioned previously. State a problem you encountered, show how you solved it, and the results of the solution. End by discussing what you learned from that experience.
Speak slowly, remember as an immigrant you may have an accent (this is okay, it’s you!), but you want the recruiter to understand you as well, so speak slowly and feel confident in your answers.
At this stage, you have received an interview invitation. That’s great news – congrats!!! You are almost there. Do the following:
- Go through the job description for the role and research the company.
- Create a story for each job responsibility. What was the problem? How did you solve it? What was the result and what did you learn?
Do you want a career consultation with a coach? No worries, book now!
If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below or send us a quick email through the contact page. Remember to subscribe to the blog to stay updated on the latest articles and any new information.