No matter how experienced you are, job interviews in English can be scary. It can seem like an eternity waiting to be called into the room or online meeting, and once you’re inside, it suddenly becomes difficult to remember all the calming techniques you practiced beforehand. In fact, 93% of people say that they experience anxiety during an interview. Taking an interview in another language only adds to the nervousness.
Having to answer questions on the spot in English, use terminology that matches the job specifications, and maintain a natural-sounding fluency can be challenging. And all the while, you want to deliver a good and honest representation of yourself.
You may be confident that you’re the right person for the role, but if you can’t convey that to the interviewers, both you and the hiring company could miss out on a great opportunity.
As more people want to explore the business world in English, there are a few simple but effective ways to prepare for a job interview.
Here’s how to ensure that your next job interview in English leaves a good impression.
Step 1: Plan an introduction about yourself
The first two minutes of an interview are crucial. It’s how the interviewers will most likely remember you. Leaving a great impression at the start of your interview, will set the tone for the entire conversation.
Be sure that you have some friendly (and formal) greetings ready – “Pleased/nice to meet you,” for example, and perhaps a compliment about the office space.
You can ask how people are, but don’t expect an in-depth answer, and if you’re asked in return, “well” or “great” is a suitable response.
You’ll then be asked to introduce yourself. Before the interview, you can:
- Dedicate time to writing and rehearsing a two to a three-minute summary of yourself, including where you’re from, where you studied, where you’ve worked previously, and why you’re interested in the vacancy.
- Try to highlight information that relates to the job; for instance, if you studied statistics and are applying to be an engineer.
- Don’t be afraid to share anecdotes that showcase your passion either – you may have a story about working on a particular project that really sparked your love for building products.
The trick with introducing yourself is to keep it concise and professional, but you should mention things that make you stand out from other candidates.
The introduction is when you can give interviewers an idea of who you are, so it’s okay to add a joke or sidenote about your hobbies, so long as it’s appropriate. If you’re unsure whether to include something, do a trial run of your introduction script with a proficient English speaker (ideally someone who works in the same industry) to see how they react.
Step 2: List your strengths and share why they are important for the role
An interview is basically the time for you to sell yourself. You therefore need to know what your strengths are and how they correspond to the role. Defining these strengths prior to the interview is also a powerful way to boost your confidence.
- Write and memorize statements that assert your core strengths. For example, “My strength is my time management, which in my role as X, helped me prioritize Y, leading to Z outcome.”
- Review the listing for the job and pull out keywords that you use when describing your strengths. For instance, if the post says the company is looking for someone who works well in a team, you could say:
“My strength is my collaborative nature, which allows me to communicate well with others, listen to and envision new ideas, and meet shared goals.”
If you struggle to remember sentences in English, experiment with memorizing two words for each strength – the skill and its benefit.
For example, “flexibility = resilience,” “detail-oriented = high-quality work,” or “creative = innovation.”
Step 3: Learn common job interview vocabulary in English
There are a number of phrases and expressions that lend themselves well to interviews, and can help you present yourself in the best light.
Talking about multitasking is one. “My ability to multitask” or “I am confident when multitasking” shows that you’re organized and aren’t overwhelmed when you’re (inevitably) asked to take on a new assignment before an old one finishes.
The same is true for problem-solving. “An example of when I solved a problem” or “My problem-solving nature served me when…” tells interviewers that you not only know how to recognize an issue, but how to overcome it, too.
Elsewhere, discussing multicultural work environments is always valuable. “My time with an international team” or “I contributed to global operations” signals that you’re familiar with business on a large scale, and the more complex activities that come with it.
This can also be a moment for you to say if you’ve conducted business in other languages, and how you deal with cultural nuances.
Other general vocabulary that’s worthwhile bringing to a job interview in English is:
- Meet deliverables
- User/customer experience
- Working under pressure/tight deadlines
- Ideation phase
Step 4: Prepare for standard questions
Regardless of the job you’re applying for, there are a handful of questions that will probably come up during your interview.
Rather than answering in the spur of the moment, consider your answers before meeting with the team, and that way, you’ll sound more assured.
- Why do you want to work here?
- Can you tell me about a time when you’ve faced a conflict in the workplace?
- What are you most proud of in your career?
- What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
- What makes a good leader to you?
- Why are you leaving your current position?
- How do you decide which tasks to prioritize?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why is there a gap in your employment history?
For each question, craft a three-sentence response, which you can elaborate on during the actual interview. The idea is to know that you can answer the question if it arises, and that even if it doesn’t, you can perhaps use the information for a different part of the meeting.
Step 5: Write questions of your own
The question that you’re pretty much guaranteed to be asked is: “Do you have any questions for us?”. This normally features at the end of the interview, and it’s always good form to have something ready.
Of course, if you have particular questions you want to ask about the role, you should. If you’re not sure what to ask, pose these more general questions:
- How do employees at the company describe the culture?
- How do you see the company evolving in five years?
- What resources are available for me to grow in my role?
- What goals is the company currently moving toward?
- What are the next steps after this interview?
- Would you like me to clarify anything regarding my application?
Step 6: Practice with the ELSA Speech Analyzer
Nailing a job interview in English really boils down to practice – and lots of it.
With ELSA Speech Analyzer, you can practice with a series of interview questions, where you can record your responses and receive a speaking score. Speech Analyzer calculates your score based on your pronunciation, intonation, grammar, vocabulary, and fluency. What’s more, you’re given detailed, personalized feedback on how to improve.
You can also record a role-play interview with a friend and upload the audio to Speech Analyzer. Your transcript is then converted to text, and you can see your grammatical range (such as passive voice, relative clauses, and present participle) and get advice on where to replace informal-sounding constructions. Additionally, the tool offers synonyms that make your responses more authoritative, and paint you as the expert you are.