During the job search, you need to use every advantage possible in order to stand out from other applicants. So if you have been lucky enough to study abroad, make sure to bring this up at your next job interview.
If you’re wondering how to explain your experience abroad to the interviewer, check out these tips on what to say to improve your shot at the job.
1. Think About How Your New Skills Relate to the Job
Before you go to the interview, take a good look at the job description. As you go down the list of responsibilities the employee would take on and the job skills he or she should possess, think about which ones you have.
Then consider which ones are due to your study abroad session. For example, if communication is really important in the job for which you will interview, think about how going abroad to study in college improved your communication skills in more than one language. And even if you studied abroad in an English-speaking country, being in a completely new place is still challenging on your communication skills.
2. Give Specific Examples of What You Learned Studying Abroad
During the job interview, be as specific as possible about what you learned while studying abroad. If you want to make sure the interviewer is on the same page as you, consider telling a (short) story rather than just tossing out a quick sentence about your experience.
For instance, if you are focusing on how you really improved your problem-solving skills abroad, maybe talk about how you got lost in another country and what you had to do to fix the issue. This will help the interviewer understand how your study abroad experience has helped shape you.
3. Make It Clear That You’re Ready to Stay in One Place
It’s okay to have the travel bug at some point in your life, but you need to make sure your potential employer knows you don’t plan to take off on another trip soon after he or she hires you. If you make your study abroad session sound a little too amazing, employers might think you won’t be able to handle staying in one place for too long.
So during your job interview, consider pointing out that while you learned a lot when you studied abroad, you also learned to appreciate where you live now. Explain that you see the value in settling down and putting your degree to good use in your first job after college.
4. Take Note of Your Accomplishments Abroad
If you did more than go to class and wander around during your time abroad, bring it up at the job interview. For instance, if you managed to get a job or internship in another country, that’s pretty impressive, and this experience will help you stand out in the job search.
Similarly, if you volunteered or won some type of award during your time in another country, bring it up at your job interview. It can only help your case as you show how studying abroad in college has added to your ability to do the job well.
5. Do Your Research on the Company
It’s always important to research the company and position before you interview for a job. But this is especially helpful if you want to use your study abroad experience as an advantage.
One of the most important details to find out is if the company has offices in other countries. For example, if you studied abroad in Mexico and you find out one of the company’s international locations is in that country, you can score big points with the interviewer when you point this out.
You’ll likely be considered a great asset to have since you already know the culture and language of the country. And this way, your urge to travel will be a positive thing, allowing you to get paid for working in or at least traveling on business to the country in question.
5 1/2. Use Your Resume or Cover Letter to Highlight Your Time Abroad
This tip only counts as a half, because it technically isn’t happening in the job interview — though it could help get you there.
Mentioning your time abroad in your cover letter or resume is a great way to pique a hiring manager’s interest, and it will likely prompt your interviewer to ask about your time abroad. This should make it a little easier to segue into how studying abroad makes you a better candidate for the job.
And one more thing: don’t make the interview entirely about your time abroad. You’ll sound like one of those “When I was in Europe…” people, and no one likes that. Don’t force any comparisons, and only mention it when it’s relevant. One or two examples of your study abroad experience is probably enough.
Has your study abroad experience helped you in a job interview? Tell us about it in the comments below!