How To Prepare For A Job Interview In English
Published: 16 Apr 2018
Job interviews are stressful for anyone, but they're also a great opportunity. Remember, if you've been invited for an interview then you've already done much better than many other applicants for the position. It means that on paper you look like the kind of person they want for the job, and now they'd like to meet you and find out a bit more.
If English isn't your first language, then an interview can be doubly stressful. You were able to take your time writing your CV and your social media profile, but now you'll be under pressure to understand and answer questions in the moment, while trying to give the best impression that you can. The solution is to prepare as much as possible in advance.
Do your research
Find out as much as possible about your potential employer. Look into the company's history, what they do and what their mission statement is. If applicable, try out their products and form an opinion on them. What is good about them? How could they be improved?
Examine closely the way that the company is referred to in its promotional materials. Consider the language and tone used. Are there particular words or phrases that recur? Remember them and try to quote a few in your interview.
Brush up on your language skills
If it's clear that English isn't your first language, then you may be asked to take an English Skills Test at the interview. Sample tests can be found online for you to practise. You may also want to take an English course from HighQ before your interview to ensure that you can communicate as effectively as possible.
Anticipate standard questions
Although you can never know exactly what you will be asked in a job interview, there are certain standard questions that almost always come up and which you can prepare for. A common example is "how would you describe yourself?" Your answer should be focussed on your career and work history, including your goals and expectations. Keep it brief: one or two minutes is fine.
Other common interview questions include being asked about your strengths and weaknesses, why you want to work for the company and why you are interested in that job. You should come prepared with real-life examples from your job history that you can briefly relate, for instance if you are asked to describe a time that you gave excellent customer service.
Study the job ad and sell yourself
Look closely at the phrasing of the initial job advertisement. What qualities are they looking for? How can you demonstrate that you have these qualities, again using real-life examples? Use the exact words that they used when describing yourself and try to appear relaxed and confident.
Don't be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat or rephrase a question. Plenty of fluent English speakers will do this. If possible, role-play the interview, with an English-speaking friend asking the questions. Practise speaking slowly and clearly. Finally, pay attention to your body language: your posture and facial expressions. These can make as much of an impression on an interviewer as the things you say, whether English is your first language or not.
For more advice on the interview process, check out our careers advice blog.