How to Succeed in an English-language Job Interview

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You’re lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling, and wondering if you’ll ever fall asleep. The problem is you have a job interview the next day. Everyone stresses about interviews, but this is no ordinary interview. It’s in English! Interviews are difficult, even in your native language. Now, though, you need to make a solid impression and communicate well in a foreign language for a chance at a great career opportunity.

How will you do it?

First, don’t panic. When you panic, you imagine terrible things happening over and over. The more you panic, the more confidence you lose. Confidence is key for any interview, whether in English or in your native language. It’s the golden word! When you start to panic, take a deep breath, calm your mind, and focus on how you’ll ace the interview!

So, how can you ace an interview in English? Here’s how:

Prepare in advance

For any job interview, you must walk into the interview room prepared. Days, or even weeks, before the big day, you can prepare these areas:

  • Know a little of the history of the company and their goals. Use this information during the interview.
  • Find out the name of the person who will interview you.
  • Plan your route—how will you go to the interview? What is the location? What’s the best way to get there? If you do this, you won’t be late, and you’ll have less to do on the interview day.
  • If the job requires a portfolio, make sure it’s up to date and presentable.
  • Prepare your answers. Most managers ask a set of standard questions, such as “What are your greatest strengths?” or “Why do you want to work for this company?” Here is a list of popular questions in English. Since you know what to expect, you can plan strong and accurate answer in English. For most job interview questions, a good tip is to always put the focus on your skills. If you mention what you are really good at, you sound more natural. It’s not a good idea to memorise long lines of untrue answers—you’ll sound like a robot!
  • When you know your answers, ask a native speaker to check them. Perfect grammar is not the main reason to do this. When you’re nervous, it’s easy to make grammar mistakes no matter how much you prepare. Instead, ask someone to check your ideas for clarity. You aim is to communicate well with the interviewer about your skills and strengths.
  • Of course, the interviewer will probably ask unexpected questions too. Therefore, prepare yourself mentally to stay calm on the spot, to analyse the meaning of the question, and to give an appropriate response.

The pressure you feel decreases a lot if you prepare in advance. And with less pressure, you become more confident. There’s the golden word again!

Practice makes perfect

Have you heard this saying before? It’s very popular in English. It means the more you practise, or do something repeatedly, the better you become. Your skills may even reach perfection! I’m sure you agree, especially when learning a new language. When you practise—by speaking to others, for example—the better you communicate in that language.
Practise the interview with a friend. That’s right, pretend it’s the interview day, and ask your friend to be the interviewer. Start from the beginning. English interviewers usually shake hands when they greet the interviewees. Try a firm and confident handshake. Not too hard, though. You don’t want to hurt him or her! The meeting sometimes starts with a bit of ‘small talk.’ These are non-serious questions on the weather or on your journey to the interview. Don’t forget to rehearse those answers too!
Next, go through the sample questions in order, from the first to the last. Sit up straight, put your palms on your lap, and look at the interviewer. It’s a bad idea to play with something in your hands. And if you don’t look at the interviewer when you speak, it looks like you’re not confident. Above all, speak slowly and clearly.
After you are comfortable with the questions, your friend should throw random questions at you. He or she should ask you any question from your list or even new questions you don’t expect. This is a good way to practise English ‘on the spot.’ We don’t carry prepared answers in real life. We must process questions in our minds, think of the best answers, and say them as clearly as possible. If you are comfortable with this, your confidence soars.
After you’ve prepared and practised, you have taken the two most important steps before an interview. Remember, you were invited to the interview because the recruiter saw your skills and experience on a job board or on you CV. So you already made an impression. If you prepare and practise, you will be confident in the interview and you’ll communicate in a way that makes a memorable impression!

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