A job interview is nearly always an intimidating experience and understandably even more so when English is not your first language.
What if I fail to make a good impression on the recruiters? What if the recruiters ask me a question I don’t understand? What if I’m too nervous to answer the questions I know the answers to?
These and other rather unhelpful thoughts often plague second-language learners before a job interview. In fact, you might even wonder why you’re putting yourself through the experience at all!
But don’t give up just yet. If you’ve received a call for an interview, congratulations! This means the recruiters think you’re a good fit for the job and they’re hoping you’re the one they’re looking for. All you have to do now is build your confidence by following our job interview preparation tips below and significantly improve your chances of moving to the next round of interviews.
How to prepare for a job interview?
The secret to a successful job interview is really quite simple: preparation! The key is to anticipate the questions you’re likely to be asked and prepare for them in advance.
1. Research and compile a list of common job interview questions, such as:
- Can you tell us a little about yourself?
- How did you hear about the position?
- Tell us about your educational/academic background.
- Tell us about your work experience.
- Why do you want this job?
- How would your current co-workers describe you?
- Why should we hire you?
2. Research the company:
Explore the company’s website and social media accounts to get a thorough understanding of what they do, what their philosophy is, and what makes them better than their competition.
3. Write short notes—in your first language, if necessary—on the following:
Practice! Practice! Practice!
- Your main professional experiences (companies you’ve worked at; internships completed)
- Your primary skills and strengths (graphic design; marketing; inter-personal relationships; time-management)
- Your academic history and how it’s benefitted you professionally (degrees and certificates)
- How your skills and experience will benefit this particular company (based on your research on the company)
Now go over your notes and practice answering the potential questions in English. Request a friend to role-play an interviewer and help conduct mock interviews so you can get comfortable with listening to and answering questions in English.
Use your notes to answer the questions in simple, grammatically correct sentences. The focus should be on being specific and clear in your communication.
- I have five years of experience in Sales.
- I started my career as an intern at SunXY company.
- I have an MBA degree from the IIM Bangalore. I specialized in Marketing.
- My core strength is in developing measurable social media strategies for small business owners.
- I am comfortable working in both large and small teams. I currently manage a team of seven Sales executives. My team consistently achieves the highest sales in the company.
- I believe I can use my skills and experience to make your operations faster and more secure.
- I have a proven record of increasing sales by 30% per quarter in my category.
- What I admire the most about your company is the fact that you treat your employees fairly and with respect while delivering high-quality products and services.
Let Your Personality Shine
It is not uncommon for interviewers to ask candidates a few personal questions so that they can learn more about you beyond your professional achievements.
A common question is:
- What do you like to do outside work?
Prepare to share some information about yourself that is interesting and that will set you apart from other candidates. For instance:
- I like to cook with my family – I try a new cuisine every weekend!
- I go on treks with my trekking club and I enjoy watching documentaries about travel and the environment.
- I spend my free time reading books about politics and history.
You don’t have to share too many details; just a few to let your personality shine through!
Be Confident and Honest
If you’re struggling to follow what the interviewer is saying or if it becomes difficult to express yourself at the interview, it is absolutely alright to address your circumstances.
You could pause and say something similar to:
- My first language is Marathi, but I am working on my English speaking skills and I’m certain I will improve even more soon.
Practice how to request the interviewer to repeat the question if you haven’t understood it:
- Could you repeat the question, please?
- I’m sorry, I do not understand the question. Could you rephrase it?
If necessary, ask if you can write down what the interviewer is saying so you can refer to it while answering the question.
- Is it okay If I make some notes while you speak?
Most interviewers want you to feel comfortable so they will be happy to help you in any way they can.
Question the Questioner
It is very common to hear the following question at an interview: Do you have any questions for us?
While it might feel a little uncomfortable to ask the interviewer a question, use the opportunity to reinforce your genuine interest in the job and company. Make a short list of things about the company that interest you and ask a few questions when invited to do so.
You could ask questions like:
- What do you like the most about working here?
- Could you give me some examples of the projects I might work on?
The person interviewing you may be a native or fluent English speaker but you don’t have to be intimidated at all. If you follow our tips and prepare well, you will be ready for any question that comes your way!
Another great way to gain confidence before your first job interview in English is to take a Burlington English course online. Our online speaking course and expert tutors will guide you and provide the exact support you need to improve your English language skills!