Job interviews are always stressful, even more so when they’re in your second language. But there are plenty of ways in which you can prepare yourself so that you perform at your best. Doing lots of research about the company, dressing smartly, smiling and being friendly but formal – all of these things will help.
But when it comes to language, there are extra words and phrases you can practice too. We’ve taken a look at some of the most common questions asked in interviews in English so that you can prepare answers for them. And we’ve also taken a look at some words and phrases that you might want to include in your answers.
The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Employers want to find out about the real you and how well you’re going to fit in at their company. Try not to worry too much about any language slip-ups, as many employers will understand your nerves!
Tell us about yourself
This interview question is meant as an introduction, so try not to let your answer go on too long. You want to give an overall impression of who you are, but try to concentrate on your work related experience in your answer – work related experience should be the central focus of any job interview. Let them know where you’ve been working lately and why you’re looking for work in a new country. Don’t worry about telling them about your education here as they have seen this on your CV and work experience tends to be the most important factor in English-speaking countries.
Where do you see yourself in … years?
The interviewer is asking you to look to the future and imagine where you would like to be. They mean in terms of your employment and they mean for you to be realistic. While you might dream that you’ll be living in a mansion with a swimming pool in the South of France in five years, this isn’t the place to say so! Keep it work related – do you see yourself at the same company (your employer will hope so), if so, in what position? Think about your career goals and let them know.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
You may be really good at crossword puzzles but have a weakness for chocolate, but the chances are your employer doesn’t want to hear about that. They want to know about your strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. Are you a good communicator? A quick learner? Think about your positive attributes and how these help you in the workplace. As for weaknesses, you don’t want to admit to too many of these! And when you do you want to make them seem like strong points. For example, you might admit to being too much of a perfectionist, not being happy until something is 100% perfect.
Can you give me an example of a time when you … and how you dealt with that?
This is an increasingly popular interview question, where your interviewer is asking you to think back to your work experience to a particular event. Often they’ll ask about a time when you had a difficult customer to deal with or a problem to face. They want you to give them an example and tell them exactly what you did to fix the problem.
Do you have any questions for us?
While you might feel nervous about asking questions of your potential employer, this is a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the company. Perhaps you do have genuine questions that haven’t yet been addressed in the interview, such as what the working hours will be. It pays to ask something about the company, as this shows you have a genuine interest in what the company does and what it can offer you.
Employers love employees who can multi-task. This means that you are really good at carrying out more than one task at a time. In a busy environment people are often working to deadlines with lots of tasks to complete before the end of the day. If you’re good at multi-tasking let the employer know and give them an example of how you cope with work tasks.
Eager to learn
While employers are looking for staff who are competent and educated to a level that enables them to carry out the job successfully, they’re also looking for staff who are willing to learn. Every company has its own way of working and your ability to learn the way of the company and fit in is important. Letting them know that you’re keen to learn new skills is a great way to show employers that you’re enthusiastic about working for them and about the sector of business that you are working in.
I perform well under pressure
If you’re used to working in a busy environment let the employer know. The ability to handle work pressures calmly and coolly is really an advantage. Perhaps you can give them an example of just how you manage to cope well under pressure – perhaps you have a naturally calm nature or you’re good at prioritizing your workload so that you can manage your time better.
I’m looking for the chance to progress
Employers aren’t just looking for an employee today, they’re looking for employees for the future. They’ll be hoping that their company will grow and that you can help them to do so. A good employer will have avenues open to you within the company through which you can progress and showing that you’re interested in doing this lets the employer know that you have drive and ambition.