Thursday, March 22, 2012

USA Job Interviews... What's The Difference??

Since graduating from University in London, I have gotten married, relocated and for the most part, been settled on biding my time here in the USA whilst I wait for my EAD (Employment Authorisation Document) to arrive. That left me with a 5 month gap with no choice but to stay home (lack of a second car for a few months helped that happen!) and volunteer in order to pass the time. My husband and I have no children and a small 2 bedroom home that I can only tend to so often before there is nothing left to clean. I am not good at being idle. I need projects and daily goals in order to maintain my SANITY.

So once I gained my EAD (about 2 months ago) you can imagine how out of the loop I felt from the working world. Despite my continuous volunteering and the near obsessive reworking of my Resume (CV) throughout my waiting period, I still had to find a way to adjust back into a 'young professional' mentality. Job interviews can be scary at the best of times; whether you are overtly interested in the position or not the idea of meeting with a stranger to discuss your personal achievements and goals and have them judge you worthy (or not) on those things, can bring about a sensation not unlike that of a fish out of water.  


However I would like to reassure anyone who may have just relocated to the US and is in the beginning stages of job hunting... Don't be afraid! My experience so far has been full of friendliness, supportiveness and understanding. I have enjoyed every single interview, learned SO MUCH from them all regardless of jobs offered or not and my professional confidence is beginning to grow. Not that UK interviews are hell on earth, but from my own personal experience I feel as though I have been treated with great respect my potential employers here in the USA. I kind of suspect some of that has to do with the overtly positive American approach to just about everything.

Below you will find some of the main tips and tricks I've noted so far regarding my American (Side Note* I interviewed around Tennessee) job interview experience. 
  • Personality & Approachability - These go a LONG way here. I am yet to be interviewed by a hiring manager, store manager or HR Executive that does not appreciate a certain level of low key, polite banter and a sharp willingness to talk realistically. 
  • Honesty & Openness - I have been asked more personal, probing question on this side of the pond during job interviews, than I think I have by my family doctor back in the UK. Let me clarify though - this is an awesome way to be interviewed in my opinion! I cannot tell you how quickly my interviewee nerves dissipate once someone shows their interest in my personal story as well as my professional history - the invitation to be myself during each interview scenario helped me feel supported and more in control of the situation, as well as encouraged to ask more probing questions back to my potential employers!
  • Preparation - This was key for me. I did experience a lot of the same questions being recycled, as well as a few 'wacky wild cards' which got me thinking outside the box and considering my skills and potential even after the interview was over. I listed fairly typical interview questions before I went, answered them in bullet points and revised them before the interview. I made sure that I was equipped with a variety of scenarios from my working past, ready to draw on examples in a confident and succinct way once asked. 
  • Thank You Notes - Over here is seems to be customary to follow up an interview with a thank you card (some say hand written is best, some email, it just depends on the industry and the person I guess). I personally had not done this before but have definitely enjoyed going that extra mile in showing my enthusiasm for a position after the interview has ended.

Typical Interviews Questions I Have Been Asked So Far:

So you're not from here? Tell me about yourself and what brought you to this part of the world?

Do you miss home much? (i.e. are you likely to stick this out!?)

Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone you really disliked? (A tough one to answer positively!)

How did you and your US fiance/husband meet? (I have been asked this at every interview I think - apparently they like to know!)

And Some 'Wild Card' Examples:

If you had a never ending supply of lego bricks, what would you build and why?

Would you be comfortable singing for us? (Yes I did sing, yes it was nerve wracking!)

Tell me about your own spiritual journey? 

Best of luck to you all! 


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