Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you been to a first interview in the US?

Is this a bit different than it might run within your own culture?

We’re going to look at how the process works when interviewing for a job in the US.

We’re going to focus on what to do and what not to do, as well as the way that you should present yourself in a first interview.

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We have a question from a listener who is about to interview and wants to know the right approach.

Hi and thanks for your amazing podcast!

I hope you stay healthy in this epidemic. I am writing in hopes of getting your help. I will have a job interview coming up for a fellowship in the US, and I could use some advice.

Can you tell me what to do and not do in the interview? For example can I ask about salary and benefits and vacation.

Thank you for your help,


First Impressions Matter Greatly

It’s all about your first impression and that happens in the first interview in the process.

This is focused on the first interview, and it assumes it’s a competitive position.

If you are competing against others for a position, then you want to be sure that this interview is not just about you.

In the first interview they don’t know you or want you yet.

That means that you don’t want to ask about things like vacation because you aren’t there yet.

They need to see that you add value to the company before you can get into this.

The first interview is where you give them their first impresssion about you.

This is where you talk about what you can help to bring to the company as a whole.

The company has a position available and it needs something from the right candidate.

This is your opportunity to show that you can be that right candidate for whatever it is that the company needs to accomplish.

It’s important however to focus on the company first, and then what you can bring to this organization.

Think of the Order of Events

So now that you know it’s not about you in that first interview, you can understand that you shouldn’t ask about salary and benefits just yet.

What should you expect in an interview in the US?

How does this all work within the American culture?

This is about moving forward in your professional life, and that’s important to recognize.

You can control what you do to prepare for an interview, even now with some extra time at home during the Coronavirus pandemic.

It’s not about you in that first interview, but rather what you can do for the company.

You have to think about what you should ask and how you portray yourself in the interview.

Make it about the company and what you can contribute to the overall organization.

If you focus on your first impression and figuring out how you might fit into that company culture, that helps a lot.

Your goal is to show that you care about this company and how you will be indispensable to them.

You want to think of their goals and how you can help them to reach those goals.

So be sure to make a good first impression, and then focus on what you can offer to this company.

Show that you can help to fill a void or solve an issue, and remember that it’s all about the company in this first interview.

Once you move forward in the process, there’s plenty of time to focus on you and your experience or skills.

As things move forward, then you can get onto the salary and benefits but not until you have proven yourself first.

Things To Do and To Avoid In An Interview

It doesn’t matter what language or country you are interviewing in, these rules matter greatly.

These are the important “do’s” and “don’ts” that can help you to win out in an interview.

Do’s To Win In An Interview

  1. Focus on the company overall: You want to focus on the company as a whole or the goals of that company. What goals does your company have for the future? It’s a bit broad but it always works. You can cater this to the company you are interviewing with. If it’s academic in nature, then you can cater this to their goals specifically. You want to insert yourself into the process of helping them to achieve their goal. “What are your goals for the year?” You can then follow up with “Where are you stuck?” This is where you can insert yourself into the process so that you can tell them how you can help them to achieve these goals. You have to make this a very individual process and the way that you can help them is from you directly.
  2. Do your research: You want to do your research so that you know about the company coming into the interview. You want to reference things that you found out about the company in your research. Think of how to expand this to your own contributions. You want to bring in your network, your experience, and your novel ideas that will help you to be a contributor to their goals. Catering what you have to offer is important but you must first reference what you know about the company through your research.

Don’ts In An Interview

  1. Don’t focus on the benefits or free stuff: You do not want to talk about benefits or paid time off right away. The time to ask about this is when you get an offer and you can talk about salary and benefits. You want to wait until you have gone through the process. You want to be able to negotiate, but it’s all about doing it at the right time. You have leverage once you have gone through the process.
  2. Don’t be tacky: Don’t drop hints that you have other job offers. It’s great to show your value and focus on how you are an asset. You don’t want to throw it out there how you are such a big deal or a huge value. You don’t want to talk about how amazing you are or how you are in high demand. You don’t want to sound rude or arrogant or come off the wrong way. Being confident is good, but trying too hard or coming across as cocky will never come across well.

These rules are simple but they will help you tremendously.

If you want to stand out from the crowd in an interview, then this is how to do that.

Focus on the positive and know how the process works so that you don’t come off the wrong way early on.

These Rules May Be Cultural Or Universal

Perhaps there are other unwritten rules of how you handle this in other cultures.

It can be interesting to talk about interviews in other cultures vs. American culture.

There are things that you want to do and want to refrain from doing, and that may be universal.

There may be specific etiquette and manners that you use in your culture that may not be used in other cultures.

It’s helpful to learn the rules and the “do’s” and “don’ts” of an interview before you go in.

Now you have an idea of what to expect for interviews within the American culture, and you want to be sure that you use them when the time comes.

You can learn how to have great charisma and stand out in the interview, and these guidelines can help to get you started.

This is an important approach so that you can win in interviews and progress to the next stage.

This is how you follow etiquette and stand out from the crowd which matters too.


Interviews are a part of life and they always will be when trying to find a job.

You want to go in and be as prepared as possible, and do your research on the company beforehand.

Be sure that you know how to present yourself and show how you can be an asset to the company.

Save your questions about pay and benefits for later on in the process after you’ve proven yourself.

If you follow these guidelines, you an really stand out in an interview within the American culture–and this may apply to interviews anywhere in the world too.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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