Cultural Aspects of Interviews

Cultural aspects of interviews
Cultural aspects of interviews. Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

What does cultural aspects of interviews mean? If you are interviewing for a job in your country, you know what behavior is expected. There is a social norm on how formal you need to be in such situations. How much eye contact is considered polite in your culture? Do you wait for the interviewer to shake your hands, or do you automatically extend your hand? Or, maybe shaking hands is not the norm in your culture. These are some cultural aspects I refer to.

Prepare for cultural aspects of an interview

If you are looking for your first job in Seattle, and you think there may be great differences in interview styles from your culture, there are ways to prepare yourself.

How are interviews different in this culture?

First, think of how you would behave if you were at an interview in your country. You can even write them down. Then, think about the culture in Seattle. It would be a good idea to ask around to find out how formal or informal the company is that you want to work for. Ask those who went to an interview there recently. Ask them how they would advise interviewees.

Prepare interview answers through online research

Second, do research online. Google something like “interview experience in X company.” Some candidates write their experience anonymously, even share questions asked during the interview. This is one way to prepare yourself. Prepare your answers mentally. But do not memorize them. If you do, you will SOUND like you memorize the answers. Would you prefer interviewing someone who memorize her answers? Or someone who is spontaneous in her response? You can practice the answers by knowing the main points. But if you memorize word for word, that would come across in the meeting.

Practice cultural non-verbal language before the interview

Third, practice non-verbal language before the interview. How comfortable are you with eye contact? Is it respectful in your culture to maintain eye contact with the interviewer? If so, how long is the eye contact? And how often? Is it appropriate to smile? How firm should your handshake be?

If you find that the cultural norms here are different from those of your country regarding interviews, ask to practice with an American friend who is knowledgeable in interviews. And if you don’t know anyone, ask the library or a college if there are practice groups for interviews. Ask for feedback. Check if your handshake is firm enough. And get feedback about your eye contact when you shake hands and during the interview.

The article Practice the Cultural Aspects of Interviews goes into details on this topic. To summarize, if you are preparing for your first job interview in Seattle, prepare the cultural aspects in addition to answering questions you anticipate. This will contribute to the success of your interview.

If you find this blog helpful, here is one on Interview Skills for ESL Professionals.

Estrella Chancoaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email

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