This is how to use your Overseas Work Experience to ACE your job interview with potential employers, rather than just saying “it was awesome!”
You spent some time abroad during or after your university years, perhaps for some adventure, some travelling, or just to experience that “soul searching” that those IG influencers rave about. You’ve probably heard stories of peers returning from overseas ace-ing job interviews, landing their dream jobs, and you probably wondered: “how can I use my experiences to impress during my job interview?”
It is difficult to try to explain to an interviewer why your overseas experience makes you stand out. But wait – you already DO stand out. Many graduates are limited in terms of their work history, so you already have an advantage ahead of them. You just need to know how to illustrate your skills and competencies by drawing on your experience!
In an increasingly internationalized work economy, employers are looking for “global graduates” – someone who can apply critical thinking and consider a wide range of perspectives or influences when approaching an issue. Having lived overseas, you definitely fit the bill – you just need to find a way to prove it.
Dig deep – It is very easy to pass off “it was great!” as an answer, when asked about your experience overseas – but that does not say a lot about your experiences. You will need to organize your thoughts beforehand, in order to convey the correct message. Imagine you are the interviewer, what sort of questions would you ask? “Why did you choose to go overseas?”, “What was your best takeaway from your time overseas?”, “What was the most challenging thing you encountered, and how did you resolve it?”, “What experience makes you stand out from the crowd, and how does it help you with your job?”
Adapt to change – anyone who lived overseas for a certain period of time will know – adapting to change can be daunting. Draw from your previous experience overseas and think of how you overcame that challenge. It can be learning to use a new public transport system, your first experience dining out in a restaurant, getting used to your workplace culture, and so on.
Problem-solving – of course, there is no shortage of obstacles you faced! These could be unexpected problems, like getting lost in a foreign city, dealing with difficult roommates, getting into disagreement with your colleagues, or even being evicted by your landlord because of a misunderstanding. Or it could be problems that required a longer-term planning, like securing funding to travel overseas, working part time jobs to make ends meet.
Motivation – when faced with problems, what drove you to push through and find a solution? Being overseas, your safety net could be quite small. When faced with problems, what did you do? Did you just give up, or pushed through to find a solution? Did you learn to manage your expectations or compromise when a solution couldn’t be found?
Communication – You worked with people from different backgrounds, countries and cultural ethnicities, so you will have come across situations where you had to practice and build your communication skills. It can be going out with your friends, negotiating working hours with your supervisor, swapping work schedules with your workmates. Effective communication is the foundation of an overseas work experience and it sticks with you long after your return.
Goal-oriented – what did you set out to do during your time overseas? Did you manage to achieve your goals? How did you manage to do it? It can be to travel and see as much of the country as possible, save up to buy that iPad Pro you always wanted, make lots of friends to keep in touch after your program, and so on.
Now that we have broken down your analysis of your time overseas, perhaps it is now easier for you to address potential questions that you might face during your job interview. The key to remember is to offer responses with real substance, at the same time showing your enthusiasm in the process!
Join an overseas experience with Infinity Abroad
Infinity Abroad’s programmes are designed for students and recent graduates to experience working and living in the United States on the J-1 (BridgeUSA) visa with a vetted US Host Employer through Work & Travel, Camp Counsellor, or Internship & Trainee. Contact us to learn more on how you benefit from an overseas USA experience.