Practice the Cultural Aspects of Interviews

Last Updated on March 1, 2019 by Estrella

Cultural aspects of interviews. Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

Interviews can be uncomfortable for some people, especially if it’s your first one in a new culture. It’s not knowing what to expect, what is culturally appropriate, etc. etc. Here are some tips on how to practice the cultural aspects of interviews that can help you prepare for your next (or first) interview, so you feel more confident in your meeting.

Cultural Aspects of Interviews

Seattle is relatively more relaxed than some other U.S. cities. Maybe being surrounded by water and mountains contributes to this atmosphere. That’s not to say companies have a slow pace. It’s that you can relax into a bit of chit chat before the formal exchange of interview questions and answers. This is a general observation. Of course you need to assess each situation individually. If you sense that the interviewers are eager to get right to the questions, then go with it.

Train Yourself to Feel Ease in Interviews

Not all interviewers are professionally trained to conduct interviews, so take that into consideration. Some are managers of a department, and their strength is in managing their department, not in how to be a good interviewer. Human resources managers have more practice in this area, and might be more helpful in setting you at ease. Whether or not the interviewer can help you feel comfortable, YOU can do this for yourself.

Do what Olympics Gold Medalists do to rehearse for success

Mentally, picture the interview the way you want you to feel. Some Olympic gold medalists do this long before the competition. They built it into their routine. It’s muscle memory for them. There are studies on how performance are comparable whether athletes physically practice or mentally practice the moves. So using this technique, imagine yourself feeling how you want to feel when you walk inside the company, greet the receptionist, when you meet the interviewers. Continue to picture how relaxed your body feels while having a conversation to explore if you and the company are a good match for each other.

Even though you might have rehearsed the answers to the questions you anticipate at the interview, rehearse these mentally as if you are in the interview now. Feel how at ease you feel as you picture yourself talking with these potential co-workers.

Do not memorize answers. They will SOUND memorized.

When you rehearse the answers to potential questions, do not memorize them. The reason is, you will SOUND like you memorized the answers. Interviewers want to know what you are really like. So when you rehearse, play with different ways to answer, and choose one that feels the most comfortable for you. You know the answer that you believe in, so express your ideas as if you are sharing them with a colleague who is interested in the same topic. You will come across enthusiastic because you are interested in the topic. And you won’t have to worry about giving interviewers the answers you think they want.

Is this the right company for you?

Be yourself. You wouldn’t want to be in a work environment where you can’t be yourself, do you? Find out the culture of this workplace. Ask questions during the interview. It’s not just you who want to be in a workplace that you like. The company also wants to make sure they are bringing in someone who likes the workplace and will stay with them. It costs them to go through a hiring process, not just financially, but also time and energy of all the people who interview you. The company is just as interested in finding the right match for them, just like you are interested in finding the right match for you.

Approach an interview like this

If you could persuade yourself to approach an interview as an opportunity to find out if this is a work environment you would like, doing things you like, meeting potential co-workers, you’ll most likely feel more at ease. Instead of “I am nervous, I have an interview tomorrow” you’ll be feeling “I am looking forward to meet some people who might be my co-workers, and I am eager to explore if this work environment and work would be a good match for me.”

If you find this article helpful, here is another one on Career Advancement Tips for Immigrants.

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

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