Want a job in the UK? 6 tips for international students

Picture of Zubair Khan
Zubair Khan, Year 2 Accounting and Finance (BSc)

We recently held a panel event of international alumni working in the UK attended by:

  • Natalie Ng has a Master’s in Accounting, Finance, and Management and is now an Equity Rewards Advisory Tax Associate at Grant Thornton
  • Tony Zhang has an MEng in Computer Science and is an Agile Business Analyst at HSBC
  • Fei Jin has an MA in Film and Television and is a video photographer and editor at New Silk Route
  • Emelyn Shu Fang Tan has a degree in Law and is a Student Inclusion Intern at the University of Bristol


“Getting a job in the UK can seem daunting to international students. However, all you need to do to find your dream job in the UK is make an extra effort to stand out to employers”

Here are Zubair’s top take aways from the event:

  1. Apply early

Most companies tend to hire on a rolling or first-come-first-served basis. In other words, if you plan on applying the day before the final deadline because you are too busy hanging out with your friends (!), chances are that the application portals will have closed. The moral of the story is that it is never too early to make an application.

  1. Preparation is key

Most firms today use psychometric tests like numerical, logical, inductive, and situational judgement tests. These examine your skills, knowledge, and reaction to situations that you are likely to encounter in the workplace. The best way to prepare is to practice selection tests by using the activities on the Careers Service website.

Recorded video interviews have become immensely common, where you are given 30-90 seconds to think of an answer to a pre-recorded question, and then record your answers. Dress appropriately and be confident. Many online interviews are assessed by artificial intelligence, so the smallest details like your smile, lighting, eye contact and speed of your answers count.

Our online tool, Interview 360, provides feedback on these areas and allows you to practice tonnes of questions very similar to the ones that employers use.

  1. Research the company

The most common questions you will be asked are, “Why do you want to work here?” or “Why did you choose this division?” Instead of giving very general answers which can be applied to almost all employers, give an answer which is very specific to the employer or the role. For instance, talk about how their values align with your personal morals and ethics, a recent project the company undertook that you really liked, or the employer’s vision.

  1. Connect and Grow

A great way to prepare for an interview or assessment centre is to connect with someone who currently works for the employer through LinkedIn and learn what they love about their role and the organisation.

For example, if you are applying for an internship and you discover that past interns were able to speak to the Chief Financial Officer, you can say in your assessment centre how it appeals to you that interns get to speak to senior stakeholders to expand their network and enhance their potential.

  1. Stay active

Try to get roles that are as relevant as possible to the industry that you want to break into. Take advantage of spring insight weeks in your first year, which you might convert into summer internships, and then graduate schemes! Or work as a university Campus Ambassador for an employer.

There are also multiple roles within the University of Bristol such as PASS Leader, Peer Mentor, Career Peer Support Assistant, and many more, that are not only flexible but also give you the opportunity to gain skills while getting paid! Always keep an eye on the vacancy listing on mycareer and be the first person to apply for a role that you find appealing.

  1. Learn and move on

Rejections are inevitable, but instead of getting demotivated and feeling low, ask for feedback to learn where you went wrong. Make sure that you do not repeat those mistakes in your next application. Something I once heard which stuck with me is you can get rejected 99 times, but all you need is that one offer to get the job you always wanted!

Read our top tips on bouncing back from rejections.