Advice & Resources

3 Ways Cultural Differences Can Affect a Job Interview
by Leylanorman - 2015-03-24

As a foreigner living and working in the United States, it can be difficult to get used to the way Americans handle job interviews. Depending on your particular background and where you are from, some of the cultural nuances of American culture can be difficult to pick up on if you don't know what you're looking for.

Eye Contact

Eye contact during a job interview is essential. Eye contact indicates that you are likely an honest, confident person. If you look away from the eyes of your interviewer, the interviewer is likely to think that you are not confident in your abilities and that you may have something to hide. While it may make you very uncomfortable, practice using eye contact during conversations before you go to your job interview. It is not a sign of respect to not look at your boss in the U.S. Just the opposite is true: look at the floor, and you may insult your boss.

Focusing on You

Some cultures do not like to highlight their personal accomplishments, especially when they speak about their work. It is better to them to note the team-s achievements, not what the individual did to help everyone succeed. This is not the case in America. The United States mainstream culture is very individualistic. Employers want to know what you can do, not what your team can do.

Humbleness vs. Arrogance

If someone offers you a compliment in an interview or notes that something you did was interesting, don-t downplay it. Simply say, "Thank you." You are not arrogant if you accept praise.

You do appear arrogant if you never give credit to your team members and all you can talk about is how wonderful you are. For example, you don't want to say, "I was the strongest person on my team. I helped all the other people who didn't do their work." Instead, you might say, "I contributed to the team by helping to refocus the team's efforts when we got off-topic during planning sessions. In the end, we all succeeded in that we won the division's highest award for our achievement."?

Being aware of some of the cultural differences between your country and the U.S. can help you do well in your job interviews. Practice with an American friend before you do an interview, and best wishes!


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