As I look back on my time abroad, I remember all of my best memories. Paragliding in Switzerland, camping in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, and throwing pennies into the Trevi Fountain, to name a few. But what I always forget is how, in the first half of the semester at least, I was greeted with intense stress and fears for my future every time I remembered that I was in the awful, taxing period of interviewing. I thought that no company would be willing to offer me a job before meeting me in person and I would go back to the US unemployed with all potential jobs already taken by other candidates. Of course, this was in fact unreasonable as well as false, but I did acquire a bit of knowledge from interviewing from way across the way.
1. Network before you leave.
The easiest and arguably most important part of interviewing is ten times more important when you have the disadvantage of being so far away. The spring and summer before, I was constantly on the phone with people who had the positions I wanted to get. I asked questions specifically about interviewing abroad to gage where their company was when it comes to interviewing a candidate they can't meet in person.
2. Don't underestimate just how important editing everything from e-mails to cover letters is.
I was told that employers pretty much stop evaluating your application if it's clear you haven't spent time editing your writing. E-mails are such a simple thing, but when there are errors or font issues, they reflect poorly on you.
Pro tip: Sometimes with g-mail you can't see when you're writing a message that fonts are different when you copy text over to your e-mail. But employers who use Outlook can tell! So make sure to readjust your entire e-mail at the end to avoid any wonky fonts, colors, and sizes.
3. Apply early.
Show them you're proactive. No one wants to hire a candidate who makes them think the application was just a second thought.
4. Use any connections from mentors and professors.
If you have someone who can vouch for you, you're one step closer to an awesome job.
5. When it comes to Skype, interview in a quiet place.
Make sure your roommates know you have an interview. Even if the interviewer can't hear your friends or host family in the background, it can be super distracting to listen to others' conversations when you're trying to answer questions.
6. Also, make sure the background is plain and it's clear that you're wearing a suit.
Or maybe just the jacket and blouse? I'll admit I wore sweatpants for most of my interviews, though they had no idea!
7. Be ENTHUSIASTIC.
Body language is everything. Over Skype, they can only see your face. So smile! And speak up loudly. Make sure you are doing everything you possibly can to show you're still super engaged and enthusiastic about the position, however far away you may be.
8. Check your volume, speaker, and camera beforehand by calling a friend for practice.
Ask them about the background, how loud you are, etc.
9. Ask the interviewers for their contact information.
Usually, interviewers will hand you their card at the beginning or end of the conversation. Since that's not possible, absolutely do not forget to get their e-mails. Don't feel uncomfortable writing down their names and e-mails.
10. Have a notepad with you.
This goes for all interviews, but especially when you can't be in person, you have the opportunity to take so many notes.
11. Make sure you send a fabulous thank you note about 10 hours later.
The notes I was talking about in the last recommendation are the notes you will use to draft a super great e-mail. Sound genuine but extremely thankful and make a note that you appreciate them taking the time to do a Skype interview since you can't be there in person.
12. Ask questions about the interview process timeline.
This will help a lot within the next couple weeks so you can relax and know when to expect a call or e-mail from the employer. It helped save a lot of energy that I would have used stressing that I could then use for enjoying abroad.
Realize that if you don't get a job now, it's not the end of the world. When you're abroad, be present. Don't worry about the things you can't change. All you can do is use past rejection to fuel your motivation and work your hardest. Spend time on interview prep, but spend way, way more time on focusing on the amazing opportunities that are right outside your doorstep.
14. And for your final piece of advice- Know that interviewing for a job is a full-time job itself.
Don't expect great returns for not-so-great effort. Work hard and you will be rewarded. You got this!