Job interviews

I don’t know many people who enjoy job interviews. Job interviews can be very daunting, especially when English is not your first language. Prior to being a teacher, I was a Customer Service Manager for a large international fashion company so I have a lot of experience interviewing people for potential roles. I wanted to share with you some of my experiences and help you get prepared for a potential new role with an English speaking company.

Prior to the interview, it is very important to research the company and find out more about them. The first question I used to ask in an interview was “What do you know about us?” This research shouldn’t be limited to the company website. Go on Google and do a news search to find out more information about the company or try and find some of their videos on Youtube or Vimeo.

“Small talk” is an expression we use to describe light conversation before the interview starts between the interviewer and the person being interviewed (the interviewee). This is a way to make everybody feel relaxed and is very common. English people as you know love to talk about the weather so this is a common topic. They might also ask you about your journey to the office (“Did you find us ok?”) or you might want to express general impressions about the building (“I love your office”)

A common question which always confuses people during an interview is “Tell me more about you?” Often the interviewee doesn’t know how to answer this question. Do you tell them personal details about yourself like hobbies, what you ate for dinner last night and what you did last weekend? My suggestion is start by telling them where you’re from, how long you have lived in England (present perfect practice!) and a summary of your education/work history. You don’t need to go into great detail as the interviewer should have a copy of your CV in front of them during the interview.

The question everybody dreads is “What are your weaknesses?” The interviewer has probably heard the same generic answers before, so avoid answering in this way. Try and be honest (without being too honest!) and make it clear this is something you are aware of and want to improve.

One part of the interview that often gets overlooked is questions at the end of the interview. Prior to the interview, prepare some questions you want to ask. This will show that you are serious about the position. For example “What are you expectations for this person within the first 90 days”, “Please can you tell me more about the training programme”, “What opportunities are there to progress” and my favourite “Please can you tell me your management style.” Remember, you are also interviewing them to make sure this is the right job for you, so don’t be afraid to ask these questions.

You should be able to find a list of standard interview questions online but always be aware job interviews are never the same. Sometimes they will ask you general interview questions and other times they will ask you more technical questions so be prepared for both.

My best advice is think of examples that you can use in the interview. For example, they will want to know how you dealt with a particular situation or more information about your experience so be prepared. If you use character adjectives, think of examples where you have demonstrated these adjectives in your previous experience.

I do remember one time a candidate came to my office for a job interview wearing shorts. I asked them why they were wearing shorts for the interview. Their response was “It’s a fashion company so I wanted to be trendy.” Needless to say they didn’t get the job. So my last piece of advice – don’t wear shorts to the interview!

If you need help with job interviews or want to improve your Business English skills, please contact me to set up a free 30 minute trial lesson.

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