How to crack a job interview at a US company

These five tips can help you stand out from the crowd while interviewing for an American firm.

Sasha RamaniUpdated: Saturday, October 29, 2022, 01:35 PM IST
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Congratulations, you’ve scheduled a job interview with the American firm of your dreams! You’ve come far, but still have a long way to go – especially if the company has multiple rounds of interviews for its candidates. These five tips can help you stand out from the crowd while interviewing for an American firm.

Mind the Logistics

There’s a good chance that you’ll have at least some of your interviews for an American firm virtually – likely through a phone or video call. Take some time to make sure that your environment is suited for this: Find a quiet location that has good internet connectivity. Try to interview from a desk rather than a bed or kitchen table, as this will both signal your professionalism and make it clear that you’re ready for a potential work-from-home position. And even if your interview is virtual, make sure that you look professional – a suit jacket and formal business attire are a safe choice.

If you have an in-person interview, then it’s better to overdress than underdress. Make sure that you are about 15 minutes early. Don’t show up too early, and do not be late. Upon arrival, be ready for a little bit of small talk. It could help if you discuss a hobby – particularly a hobby shared by the interviewer, and one that you discovered by researching the interviewer beforehand.

Sasha Ramani

Create Talking Points

Come prepared with talking points about why you want to leave your current job and why you want to work at the prospective firm – and be ready to explain your previous roles and educational experience. Be prepared to express how this role fits into your overall career strategy and what you hope to learn from and contribute to the position.

Creating talking points also ensures that your answers are concise. Americans tend to speak directly and to-the-point. Quick answers can be one minute or less, but complicated answers can stretch for up to two minutes. In general, answer questions directly – but don’t hesitate to elaborate and hit your desired talking points. 

“Uhh, let me be clear…”

Talk about your strengths in a clear way and explicitly align those strengths with the company’s needs – which are often described in the job description. Speak slowly and clearly, especially if you think your accent may be more difficult for Americans to understand.

Similar to when writing your resume, don’t assume that a foreign audience will be familiar with acronyms or industry jargon; instead, be clear about any relevant experience that you have without relying on acronyms or slang. A foreign audience may not even be aware of some of India’s largest firms, so be prepared to provide a one-sentence clarification like “I worked at Reliance, one of India’s largest conglomerates.”

The same applies to your education. Foreign employers may be aware of the IITs and IIMs, but perhaps not the difference between IIT Palakkad and IIT Guwahati. And they may not be familiar with other top-ranked schools like NMIMS. Don’t hesitate to provide a one-sentence clarification, like “I pursued my MBA at NMIMS, (explain the institute in a sentence).”

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Be ready to discuss why you want to join this particular firm as opposed to its competitors. Read their website, study recent news about the firm, and if possible, conduct an informational interview with someone who currently works there. You can usually find these people on LinkedIn or through your university’s alumni database.

For mission-driven employers, it’s helpful to convey passion for the organisation’s mission of democratising access to high-quality education and supporting global socioeconomic mobility – especially if you can clearly state why this mission is important to you: Has it touched you, or anyone in your family?

Part of this involves asking one or two insightful questions. Ideally, you would come to the interview with three questions prepared, and not just any questions that could have been answered by Googling, but questions that show your genuine interest in joining the firm. Come prepared to the interview with three questions so that if one is answered by the interviewer without you asking it, you have fallbacks.

After the interview, show your enthusiasm by thanking the interviewer. Make it personal by saying that you enjoyed learning something personal about them, or that their answer to your questions made you particularly excited to join their team.

Practice Makes Perfect

Ideally, do a mock interview with a friend or career counsellor who can provide you feedback. And consider recording yourself so you can see how you appear: Is your posture not how you imagined it, or is your answer too rambling?

These five tips will help you stand out from the crowd when interviewing for the American firm of your dreams. With a newly polished resume and having aced the interview, you’re likely ready to hit the ground running at your new firm.

The author is Director of Corporate Strategy at MPOWER Financing

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