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Interviewing in the USA

U.S. Employer Expectations Possible Conflicting Values of Other Cultures
Self Promotion
  • Assertiveness
  • Confidence in openly discussing goals and accomplishments
  • Follow-up with employers (telephone inquiries about the status of your resume/application or thank you letters) is appropriate
  • Citing accomplishments and skills is often seen as boastful, self-serving and too individualistic
  • Asking employer directing about application is rude
Directness in Communication
  • Maintain eye contact with the employer
  • A firm handshake is expected
  • Open and direct response to questions is expected
  • Eye contact (especially with persons of higher status, such as the interviewer) may be seen as disrespectful
  • Handshaking, touching, using first names, crossing legs etc. may be viewed as inappropriate
  • Appearance of criticism must be avoided to save face
  • The job applicant may be expected to not ask any questions that may indicate lack of respect for interviewer
  • Congenial interviewing environment that encourages openess, casual exchange of information
  • Personal descriptions of experiences, hobbies, strengths, weaknesses is expected
  • Sitting with a person of higher status requires deference
  • Personal questions about likes, dislikes, etc. are considered an invasion of privacy and are discussed only with close friends and family
Career Goals
  • Demonstration of knowledge of self, career goals, and how they relate to the job is expected
  • Clear short-term and long-term goals
  • Jobs may be assigned by family or government
  • Questions about role in a company may indicate potential disloyalty
  • Individuals are often expected to be flexible to accept whatever job becomes available
Job Search Responsibilities
  • You are responsible for your own job search
  • Use a wide variety of resources in identifying jobs (networking, classifieds, career services, mentors, etc.)
  • Jobs are often found through government or family
  • Dependency relationships in job search are fostered - one resource will usually find work for the job seeker
  • Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes before scheduled interview, lateness is unacceptable
  • Personal relationships are often more important than time. Anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours lateness may not be insulting
Individual Equality
  • Race, sex, and age should not effect interview relationship
  • Males may be expected to assume dominance in interactions with females
  • Younger persons defer to older persons
Preparation for the Interview
  • Obtain as much information as possible about the job and organization before the interview
  • Demonstrate awareness of organization in letter of application and during interview
  • Research about the organization may indicate excessive and undesirable initiative or independence
Cover Letters and Resumes
  • Resumes should be one page, error free, concise and attractive outline of relevant job experience, skills, accomplishments, and academic credentials
  • Resumes and cover letters should be personalized to reflect each individual's qualifications and professional interests
  • Age, marital status, health, family status and photos should not appear on a resume
  • Resumes are often a detailed (longer than one page) chronology of academic and formal work experiences and not a tool for self promotion
  • Age, marital status, health, national origin, photographs, height, weight, etc. may be acceptable on a resume


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