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20 tips on how to conduct a successful U.S. job interview

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A job interview in your own country may be very similar to the U.S.  However, before going in for an interview, it is very important to learn the differences between your country's cultural rules and the United States'.  Here are 20 tips on how to conduct a successful U.S. job interview:

Always arrive for the interview on time. 

One of the biggest mistakes international candidates do is to arrive to an interview late.  If you are arriving interview late, the interviewer is going to assume you will do that if you are hired, which is not a first impression you want to give.  Being late to work is looked down upon, and can even get you fired.  Make sure you are on time, and in fact it is even better to show up a few minutes early.

Introduce yourself while shaking the interviewers hand. 

The hand shake is very important.   Too soft of a hand shake could be interpreted as lacking confidence.  However, too strong of a handshake can be seen as aggressive. In some countries it is not okay for the women to shake hands with a male, but in the U.S. it will be expected for this to happen.  If you are male and your interviewer is female, then you must shake hands, even if this is not appropriate in your home country.  And, if you are female and your interviewer is male, know that is culturally okay to shake hands.   In fact, it is essential to do so in the United States.   Keep eye contact when you shake someone's hand.

Speak clearly and confidently.  

Practice your English before an interview so you are able to communicate clearly and confidently.  If the interviewer can not understand you or you can not understand him/her, you will have less of a chance of getting the job.  Read more about the importance of English

Be polite and pleasant

Smile during the interview.  Show interest in what your interviewer is saying. 

It is important to maintain eye contact. 

In some countries this is not an appropriate gesture.  However, in the U.S. it is very important because it shows you are confident in yourself, that you are listening, and that you respect the other person.

Don't slouch

Not only is slouching is a sign that you lack confidence and have low energy levels, but it shows disrespect to the interviewer. 

Don't fold your arms

Folding your arms could send a message that you are not interested in the conversation or that you disagree with the content of the conversation.  It is a "closed off" gesture. 

Don't invade the interviewer's space.

In the U.S. you should maintain a distance of 1.5 feet.  Any closer than this will make people uncomfortable and could be interpreted as disrespectful.

Do not glance at your phone or the clock.

This could be interpreted as you not being interested and being anxious to leave.  It is also considered very disrespectful. 

Keep your phone off and tucked away. 

You don't want to have your phone going off during the interview.  This is a distraction and is considered very disrespectful. 

Don't fidget

Fidgeting can be seen as not having confidence or self-esteem.  Try and keep your hands on your lap.

Don't be afraid to ask questions about the company. 

Asking questions shows you are interested in the interviewer and the company.

Do not ask questions about salary or benefits until the end of the interview, or better yet, not at all. 

If you ask about salary and benefits right away, it will seem to the interviewer that all you care about is the money.  You want to make sure the interviewer sees that you are interested and passionate about the job.  Also, you have more advantage in negotiating a better salary if you wait until a job has been offered to you.   Here is a list of appropriate questions to ask during the interview....

Never lie.

Getting caught in a lie is definitely a job killer.  Employers want to hire people they can trust.  Also, it is important to note, that in the U.S. lying could be grounds for firing an employee.

Do not monopolize the conversation. 

Listen attentively to your interviewer and answer questions when asked.  But, do not talk over the interviewer or speak off topic.  Stay focused on the job, your skills and your experience.

Answer the questions confidently and thoughtfully. 

It is okay to take your time when answering a question.  Don't rush into it.  Think about it and then respond.

Always keep the conversation positive.  

The interviewer doesn't want to hear about all your problems nor do they want to hear you complain about other people or businesses.  Keep the focus on your skills and experience.

Make sure and wear the correct attire for the interview. 

Dressing for the job is very important. Dress for success, as they say here in the U.S.  If you dress sloppily you will not be taken seriously.   Read more about the dos and don'ts of attire...

At the end of the interview, shake the interviewers hand and say "thank-you." 

Shaking hands and saying "thank you" is a show of respect.  Remember to keep eye contact when you shake someone's hand.

Thank you Letter.

It is important to send a "Thank you" letter soon after the interview.  This is not only polite and thoughtful, but it is a way of reminding the interviewer about you.

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