Interview Tips: Embassy of Canada

Interview Tips: Embassy of Canada

By: Kiran Danhoa
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SFU Beedie Business student Angie Yu is relocating to China this summer for an International Co-op position with the Embassy of Canada. She recently spoke with International Co-op Communications Assistant, Kiran Dhanoa and shared details about her interview and offered tips for others wishing to find work at an embassy or consulate.

Hi Angie—Congratulations on getting the co-op position!  Can you tell me in what ways this interview was different from others you’ve had?

Yes, the interviewers were curious about my background, specifically in regards to whether I am originally from China. It’s a question one normally isn’t asked, though it does makes sense that being familiar with Chinese culture would allow you to adjust quickly to the working environment there. 

Did the employer point out things about your work experience or skill set that made you an attractive potential employee?

Being proficient or fluent in Mandarin is definitely a huge asset for a Canadian in China. Most of the time English will be sufficient, but than again in many instances, English is not the main language used. There are also networking events and other types of occasions where you will meet professionals that might not speak English proficiently!       

Based on your experience, how would you recommend students prepare for an interview with the Embassy of Canada?

This internship requires a lot of research skills and it requires being knowledgeable about trade relations between the China and Canada.

Were there any questions that stumped you or were difficult to answer?

The one question that stumped me was when the interviewer asked about my opinions on future trade relations between the two countries. I researched quite a bit about the different sectors that are applicable to the consular district I had applied to, knowing that a general angle regarding investment and trade activity with Canada would have not been enough. The difficulty of the questions really depend on the district you are applying to, especially if your host country is as diverse as China.

What do you think would be some good questions for the interviewee to ask at this type of interview? (i.e. with an embassy or consulate).

Every Embassy or Consulate functions a little different so it is good to know who you will be working with and who you will be your main/direct report. It gives you a good idea of what you will spend most of your time doing. Also, perhaps ask about the sector of focus, or if there important upcoming visits that will require a lot of your time.

How formal was the interview? Were there several stages before you got a job offer?

Though it was conducted via phone, the interview was strictly professional. Two weeks after the phone interview, I was given a conditional offer assuming my security clearance went off without a hitch. This took about another two weeks and then a formal offer was made once the clearance went through, and finally this was followed by a Letter of Invitation a week later.   

What have you had to do to prepare to move to China for the summer? Is it your first time traveling/living overseas?

It was fairly straight forward to prepare both the entry visa and my accommodation. The difficult part is mentally preparing myself to adapt to a completely different working environment and culture. I’m originally from China and have visited family there a few times in the last thirteen years. However, no matter how many times I have been, or how well I prepare, I experience culture shock every time.

What are you hoping to get from this experience abroad, both in terms of work and personal experience?

I would like to expand my knowledge in international economics and trade to make future contributions in academia. I also hope to develop a professional network through which I can further my career path after graduation.

Also, opportunities like this will give me unexpected moments of failure and success that will push me further and help me grow. I just hope to maximize the most of this opportunity and I anticipate that this will be a life-changing experience!

Any final comments for students?

I think anyone who is interested in applying for an internship for the Embassy of Canada in China should go for it immediately! Even just going through the hiring process has been a whole new experience and I’ve been learning so many things since the start of the application process. 

I got in touch with two other SFU students who have done the internship previously and from hearing about their experiences I know this internship and all other international co-op positions provide experiences that are hard to find locally.

Angie Yu is a BBA student at SFU’s Beedie School of Business.

Posted on July 09, 2013