Passing a job interview is difficult. Job interviews make us uncomfortable, make us sweat, cause us to misspeak, and make us say things that we often don’t mean. It’s a difficult process and not speaking English as your native language makes it even harder. However, it’s not impossible. It’s important to be fully prepared when walking into an English job interview and the right preparation is key.
Here are our five top tips for effectively preparing for (and passing) a job interview in English as a non-native English speaker.
Make a Great First Impression
Whether you like it or not, we are all guilty of judging people at first glance. And while it’s true that the perfect candidate may be hiding behind sweatpants and an AC/DC t-shirt, the fact is that first impressions are everything. Make sure to dress nice without overdoing it. That means smart-looking shoes and a formal or semi-formal business outfit. Do a quick Google image search for “business interview attire” to get an idea of what is OK and what isn’t. Ensure that your hair and/or facial hair is properly groomed and make sure that there is nothing on your hands or neck that might distract the interviewer from giving you his or her undivided attention. You want to be interesting, but not overly distracting.
If you’ve gotten through the initial online selection process, you’re already being considered as a top candidate for the position. The interview exists as a way to make sure that you’ve got the proper business soft skills to fill this new position. That means great communication, listening without interrupting, taking proper instruction, and showing interest are all things you will be judged on during your first contact with a future employer. Show lots of interest in what the interviewer is saying and try to take mental note of anything that isn’t clear. At the end of the interview, the interviewer will most likely ask you if you have any questions. This is your chance to show your excellent listening comprehension skills as well as to ask questions that show you’ve prepared for the interview. Make sure to check out the company website and do some digging on Google beforehand. Jot down some quick notes on recent company news and anything else that piques your interest. This is your chance to show the interviewer that you aren’t interested in just any job. You are interested in this job.
Don’t Be Late!
You can make a lot of missteps during an interview and still secure the job, but being late is not one of them! You must arrive on time under any and all circumstances. You should try and arrive about 10 minutes before the interview and make sure you have enough time to locate the exact location if it’s inside a large building. You will probably have to wait a few minutes, but try and use this time to mentally review all of the key takeaways you’d like the interviewer to receive during your interview. Ask yourself, “If I were an employer, what would I be looking for in a candidate seeking this position?” Make sure that you are able to transmit whatever that is during the short time that you have with the interviewer. And once again, don’t be late! If you don’t have a great history of being punctual, try showing up much earlier and grab a coffee near your interview location. Prepare yourself mentally and imagine the interview going exactly like you want during this time. When it’s time for your interview, you’ll be right next door and “unforeseen circumstances” will be much less likely to occur.
Keep It Direct and Professional
When we’re nervous, we often go on and on about unrelated subjects as a way to calm our nerves. Don’t worry, it happens! But during an interview you’ll need to be relaxed and professional if you want to land the job. Make sure that everything you say is directly related to the question being asked and try not to go on too much about your personal life. It’s good to add personal details, but make sure they’re always related to how you can better help the company and highlight your professional experience without boasting. After the interviewer asks a question, take a breath and think clearly about what you’re going to answer before opening your mouth. It’s easy to begin answering without understanding the question or thinking about how you can relate it to your professional experience. So relax, take a deep breath, and answer honestly. That’s what your interviewer wants after all.
Common Sense (And A Smile!)
This should never be an issue, but make sure to always keep it professional – your looks, your speech patterns, and the content of the interview. No swearing. No bad habits like burping or chewing your fingernails. And no taboo topics like religion, race, or politics. Culturally, you may not be accustomed to the professional demeanour of specific interview situations, but if the business appears to be professional, then you also must act like a professional. Of course, the true key to success lies in being yourself! After all, that’s the person they want working at their company. So get in the right mindset, put on a smile, and envision that the job is already yours. You’ll be calmer, more collected, and will come across as your true self.
Looking to enhance your business soft skills or need a few practice sessions to make sure you’re ready for your next business interview in English? Sign up for one of our professional courses for adults. We offer specialized attention and teaching methods that were designed for success, making sure that you’re ready for anything your next English interview throws at you!
Visit us at 1970 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd in New York or give us a call to learn more about all of our classes for adults and business professionals.
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