You’ve found the perfect job, have submitted a resume and other deliverables, and landed an interview. Everything seems to be going well – there’s just one problem. You’re interviewing in English, and this is not your native tongue.
Before you stress yourself out, remember that there is a reason why you’ve gotten this far. These tips will help you collect yourself and present your abilities in a professional manner, all while speaking a language other than your own.
As Inc notes, speaking English is highly desirable when growing a global business in the modern marketplace. The company you’re interviewing with knows this, and you’re going to give yourself a big leg up by being prepared and ready in the interview session. Here’s how to make that happen.
Keep calm and talk on
But hey, when confidence is hard to muster, it’s time to revert to that old standby that’s gotten you to this point: composure.
No employer expects you to walk into an interview and have all of the answers to their problems. But they do expect you to keep it together. Maintain a collected demeanor and speak clearly, even if your answer to a question is subjective.
When trying to articulate a word or phrase that is difficult for you, a solid effort and a dose of humor will come across much better than mumbling or looking away. Keep in the back of your mind that the interviewer has your resume and knows your background, and again, they aren’t expecting perfection when English isn’t your native tongue.
Take a review session
With English becoming a language that is being required by more and more companies around the world, it's important to keep your fluency on point. There are a number of ways to do this, but none as effective as an immersive lesson with a native speaker. Live Lingua offers a great service for interview and exam prep, and you can even sign up for a free trial class.
You want to show up prepared, and even an hour or two on Skype with a native English speaker makes a noticeable difference.
Tailor your resume to your talking points
As a non-native English speaker, your resume is your biggest accomplice both before and during the interview process. Blatantly highlight your key skills and qualifications on your resume. This seems like a no-brainer, and it is – but it gives you the advantage of being extra prepared to talk about them.
Expect to be questioned on what you highlight. During your interview prep, plot out your answers and recite them a few times in front of the mirror. Once you know your response, it will come across more fluently and naturally during the interview.
Prep yourself on likely interview questions
In addition to your key strengths, there are a number of routine interview questions you should be prepared to answer. Prep yourself on the best way to describe your background, your studies, and your attraction to the position you are interviewing for. Also, be ready to talk about your personal goals and plans for growth.
- Hint: have a friend or family member do a few mock questions (in English, of course) and work with you on your answers.
Be ready to talk a bit about your love and passion for the field you work in, the growth opportunities, and ability to put your English language skills to professional use. Don't go into extreme detail on your entire life history, but talk a bit about your passions and just not you as a professional.
Browse the company’s website
You’ve seen the job posting and been in touch with the hiring team. But you’ll likely find a number of super important tidbits about the company with a thorough browse of their website and social channels.
Is their vibe generally casual and friendly, or uber-professional? How are their employees dressed in Facebook photos? What recent topics have been discussed on their blog?
There will of course be a number of questions asked and at least a few of them are likely to be off the cuff. If you’ve done your research on the position, you ought to have an even better idea of questions to expect so read up.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
This one is important, because interviewers love to ask questions like “what is one thing that you struggle with” or “what types of tasks do you try to avoid at work?” Your strengths should come to you easily, but it doesn’t hurt to write them down and be sure you can properly express them in English.
- Hint: Use Day Translations Free Translation Tool or their translation app to master the words and phrases. You can download their app on Google Play and Apple App Store.
You don't want to tell them that you have issues getting to work on time, getting along with others or taking orders from your superiors. But remember, you’re interviewing in English with a company that is already impressed enough by you to bring you in. Try talking about your language learning journey or career, and be specific.
- Hint: Avoid making a blatant spin of your weakness as a strength. i.e.: “One of my weaknesses is I expect too much of myself and try too hard to make everything perfect.”
- No one is perfect. International English-speaking brands, particularly larger ones, have heard these lines before and would much prefer honesty to a stock answer.
Quick tip checklist for interviewing in English
interviewing in English is a daunting task but you will need to get through it. Take some of these tips and hopefully make yourself a bit more confident in time for your next big day.
- Breathe. Don't freak out. This is easier said than done, but with proper prep and a language refresher, you’ll be ready to go.
- Speak slow. Don't try and rush through your words. Take your time, think about your answer, then answer in a nice and concise manner. You won't stumble as much this way.
- Take a moment to think about your answer. Don’t feel pressured to speak instantly every time.
- Everyone knows you are not a native English speaker, so don't try and hide it behind crazy vocabulary. Keep it nice and simple, answer their question, don't ramble on and don't get in over your head.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice answering those common questions in front of the mirror or with a friend. Just practice out loud -- it will help you.
Image Copyright: Dinis Tolipov / 123RF Stock Photo