International Experience in an Interview
Interviews are an opportunity to share your experiences that best showcase your skills and strengths most applicable to the position for which you are interviewing. Many employers ask behavioral questions, which require specific examples of how you used or developed relevant knowledge, strengths, and skills for the job. These questions may start with phrases such as:
- Tell me about a time…
- Give me an example of…
- Describe a situation…
Stories from your academics, work experiences, involvement, and education abroad may be used to answer behavioral questions. Tell your stories with a spin and speak to the skill or strength the employer is seeking using the STAR Method:
Describe a specific situation, not what you have done generally or believe you would do. Provide enough relevant details to make it interesting and distinctive.
Describe what task or goal had to be undertaken or what the challenge was or became.
Describe the action you took to address the challenge. Focus on your role rather than on others.
Describe what you accomplished, what happened as a result, and what it confirmed for you or what you learned from it. Provide objective outcomes such as numbers or grades where applicable and meaningful.
Complete the Transferable Skills Worksheet and the Reflection Guide to help prepare your stories for behavioral questions and other opportunities in the interview to demonstrate your strengths and skills. Below are sample behavioral questions to consider:
- Tell us about a time you had to work independently.
- Describe a situation when you had multiple projects due at the same time and how you managed each.
- Give an example of a time you collaborated with a team.
- Describe a time you had difficulty with a co-worker or teammate.
- Give an example of decision you had to make quickly.
- Describe a goal you set for yourself and how you went about achieving it.
The “Tell Me About Yourself” Magic Formula
Often the opening question to an interview, “Tell me about yourself,” is an opportunity to pitch your top qualifications and experiences, including education abroad, to an employer. It is the story of who you are, but with the particular position in mind. Consider the following approach as you develop your own, “Tell me about yourself.”
Present/Near Past and Future
- Brief introduction with some biographical info
- Your major field of study and concentrations/emphasis areas
- Experiences that have reinforced your strengths and interest in your field
- Why you are interested in the position and organization
- Your strengths as they relate to the position
- A clear, positive summary statement
"I have always been fascinated by how and why people think and react in different situations, so psychology has been the perfect major for me. I am naturally curious and quick to talk to whoever I find myself with, getting to know them and learning what drives them.
In that way, my position as a Phonathon Caller with the University of Nebraska Foundation was also a great fit. I asked people from diverse backgrounds targeted questions to determine what causes each would be most likely to support financially. I quickly learned in sales you have to get to know the individual before winning them over.
My semester in Spain gave me even greater opportunity to connect with diverse people. I completed several group projects with classmates from many different nationalities and quickly learned how to manage the influence culture has on interpersonal dynamics and getting work done.
These experiences developed my interest in sales, which combines my desire to connect with people, understand their perspectives, and help them make decisions accordingly. As I sought sales opportunities, YYY Company kept coming up as a leader due to your customer-focused approach. I also know you have an international client base with which I would love to interact, so I am very excited to be interviewing with you today to learn more about how I could contribute to your team.”
Developed in collaboration with University Career Services. For more information on interviewing and other job search activities, visit careers.unl.edu.