Job interviews can be nerve-wracking at the best of times, but if the interview is not in your native language, then it can be even more stressful! However, just like any other job interview, preparation is the key to success.
We’ve compiled a list of easy to follow tips to help prepare you for a job interview in English. Impress your future boss with your English language skills as well as your work experience!
1. Anticipate Probable Questions
As well as the normal research into the company’s history and mission, you should also focus on the common interview questions you’re likely to be asked. If you don’t understand the question, then chances are you aren’t going to answer it correctly, and this isn’t going to impress anyone!
Here are some of the most common questions you’ll hear in a job interview in English:
- Tell me a little bit about yourself
- What are your main strengths/weaknesses?
- Why are you interested in this job/company?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
- Can you tell me about a time you had to deal with… a difficult customer/job related problem? How did you solve the issue?
- What do you know about our company?
- Do you have any questions for us?
2. Prepare Your Answers
Most of the questions will be open-ended allowing you the opportunity to give detailed answers. If they do happen to ask a Yes/No question, it’s still a good idea to provide a little more information.
Your answers should be detailed, but not too long. If you ‘waffle’ too much you may lose your train of thought and miss answering the question altogether!
Preparing ahead of time what you would like to say to potential questions means you are less likely to forget or go off in a tangent.
In your preparation, for each of the common questions first write down a few examples of what you would like to say. Let’s take an example:
Question: What are your main strengths? / What do you feel are your main strengths?
Try to think of qualities which would be best suited to the job, and write down a few options.
Here are some suggestions:
- I’m a team-player
- I’m always punctual
- I’m very ambitious
- I work well under pressure
For each quality, think of an example where you have successfully displayed this quality. You can practice saying all of these, but in the interview you will only want to use one or two at most.
One important thing to remember when preparing your answers – don’t memorize them! This will make you sound unnatural. Instead, simply practice them enough so that you are confident with the words and know what you would like to say.
The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel with your business English. Confident people tend to be more successful, so it’s a win-win situation!
3. Choose Your Words Carefully
As well as brushing up on your grammar skills, try to use correct and appropriate vocabulary.
Using common phrases for the industry or job in English not only makes you sound knowledgeable in your field, but also makes you sound much more fluent.
Always try to use specific and active language, such as powerful adjectives and verbs. For example, instead of saying, ‘I helped come up with campaign ideas’, you could say, ‘I generated ideas which were used in an award-winning campaign’.
‘Helped’ is very vague, whereas ‘generated’ is more active and gives indication of responsibility.
Certain words can give a clear sense of responsibility and professionalism. Here are some good examples to try to include in your answers:
As well as conveying your professional skills, it’s also important to show passion for what you do. Employers want staff who enjoy their job and who will bring good energy to their team.
However, saying ‘I’m really passionate about the job’ doesn’t really cut it. The phrase is a bit of an interview cliche, which suggests laziness, and gives the opposite message of what you are trying to say!
Here are some more suitable words to add to your interview and business vocabulary bank:
For more tips on how to increase your business vocabulary, don’t forget to check out the blog via the link.
4. Role-Play the Interview
If you can, give the list of questions to a friend or family member, and have them play the ‘interviewer’.
If you don’t have someone to help, then you can always record yourself using your phone, laptop or computer. Record yourself as you read out the questions and your answers. Play it back and listen to see if you can clearly make out all the words. Is there anything can be improved?
Remember to take your time. Rushing speech can make you even more nervous and cause you to stumble over the words.
5. Make a Good First Impression
Communication is more than the words we say. Verbal communication makes up only 7%, 38% is the tone of voice we use, but the majority (55%) of our communication comes from body language.
Be Aware of Cultural Differences
Body language can be as different as verbal language. Certain gestures can mean different things in different countries or cultures. For example, if you’re interviewing for an English speaking role with a Japanese company, then eye-contact is really only sought at the beginning of a conversation. While in American culture, eye-contact is important throughout.
Also, in some cases it’s acceptable to discuss money upfront in interviews, and in others, it isn’t. Do a little research beforehand to make sure you don’t make such a ‘faux pas’.
Follow these five simple steps when preparing for your interview in English and you’ll be set for success. However, if you would like more help and advice for this or other areas of business English then why not sign up to the Business English Community?