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How to be successful in a job interview

Waking up on the morning of a job interview, people often feel rather nervous and anxious about how the whole process is going to go. Bearing this in mind, it gives us an idea of how much more stressful it must be for people who are going to do an interview in a language that isn’t their mother tongue. Recently Teachers Robin and Del presented a great live class on how to be successful in a job interview in English. Check out the class here before reading on:

What is imperative in different types of interviews?

As we learnt in the video class, some great tips for acing a job interview in English is to make sure that you:

  • Rehearse beforehand
  • Memorise key vocabulary
  • Act confidently

These are 3 absolutely imperative pieces of advice which should be adhered to in absolutely all interviews, irrespective of language. Keeping that at the forefront of our memory, let’s take a look at the types of job interview that we can be faced with when we apply for a new job:

  • Telephone interview
  • Skype and video interview
  • One on one face-to-face interview
  • Panel interview
  • Group interview

All of these types of interview are different but all pose the pressure on the candidate to give the best interview they can in order to succeed.

What vocabulary is useful when job hunting?

When perusing LinkedIn or other job websites for job adverts that interest us, there are keywords that we should keep an eye out for. Here are a few that we should know:

  • A job vacancy = An advert advertising an open position
  • CV/Resumé = The document detailing your previous work experience
  • Application form = The document you fill in with your details
  • A cover letter = A letter where you explain your reasons for applying

These may seem like rather obvious words, but it is imperative that you are clear about what they mean so that when you apply and are asked for a “cover letter”, for example, you know exactly what to supply.

Prospective employers don’t only ask about a job candidate’s professional background and experience, but also like to get to know the individual and find out what they are like as a person. Check out this vocabulary for when they ask more personal questions:

  • Skills
  • Goals
  • Salary
  • Hobbies

When it comes to the job process, useful verbs and expressions to keep in mind, whether you are the employers or potential job candidates, are:

  • To apply (for a job)
  • To send a job application away
  • To hire (someone)
  • To contract (someone)

How do we talk about our experience and skills in English?

When we go to an interview, we never know what questions we are going to be faced with until the interviewer asks them, however that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to prepare as much as we can. We have prepared some answers to generic questions so that you have a solid foundation upon which to base your answers. Check out these examples:

  • “I worked at (company) for ___ years.” = You no longer work there.
  • “I have worked at (company) for ____ years.” = You still work there.

In addition to having base responses prepared on which you can build your answer, it’s also important to have a variety of ways to express your experience so as not to repeat the same opening line in every remark. Have a look at the following to see varied examples:

  • I can _____.
  • I know how to _____.
  • I have experience in ______.
  • I am proficient in ______.
  • I studied _____.
  • I am qualified in ______.
  • I am well-versed in _____.

Professional strengths and weaknesses

Interviews are effectively our chance to sell ourselves and show why we are the ideal person to take on the job opportunity we have applied for. With that idea in mind, it is imperative for us to highlight what strengths we could bring to the team. There are certain qualities that the majority of employers look for and it’s important to make sure you fully understand the profile of the person that they are looking for. Professional strengths which are often sought after by many employers include:

  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Working under pressure
  • Organisation
  • Punctual
  • Hard-working
  • Enthusiastic
  • Determined

When asked about these strengths, it’s impossible to be everything. You should try to be as honest as possible while still emphasising why you are the ideal candidate for the position. Employers interviewing job candidates will not only ask about an individual’s strengths but also their weaknesses which is a tricky question for most people as they really have to think about what they are not great at doing. Check out this set of professional weakness to see which ones most describe you:

  • Perfectionist
  • Control
  • Patient/impatient
  • Shy / timid / nervous

There are certainly many other weaknesses, however these are among the most common ones that employers encounter, so it is advised to try and be original and try to think of a weakness that is not the same as everyone else’s.

How to make a good impression

Apart from answering the questions to the best of our ability, we should always be aware of our behaviour and the lasting impression we are leaving with the interviewer(s). As much as people would think it would be common sense, it’s important to reiterate the point about creating a good impression because it is paramount to the success of the interview. To make sure the interviewer(s) remember you, make sure to do the following:

  • Dress professionally
  • Arrive early but not too early
  • Offer a firm handshake
  • Make eye contact
  • Ask questions
  • Be prepared to talk about the company
  • Use confident body language
  • Don’t forget to smile

By following these simple steps, your interview should go smoothly. Remember that you are in control of how much preparation you put into the interview.

What not to do when in an interview

As we explained above, there are many things you can do to create a good impression when you go to an interview, however there are many things you should avoid doing as well so as not to create a bad impression. When you have an interview, make sure you do not do the following:

  • Arrive late
  • Chew gum
  • Answer your phone
  • Discuss personal issues
  • Be rude
  • Be indifferent
  • Be arrogant and overconfident
  • Complain about your previous employers

It is just as easy to create a bad impression as it is to create a good impression, so make sure you avoid doing any of the above to ensure that the employer only has a good impression of you as a possible candidate for the advertised position

What are common Interview questions?

As part of your preparation for an interview it’s important that you try to cover as many question possibilities as you can. It is obviously impossible to know what questions you will be asked, but that doesn’t mean you cannot try to prepare, even if your preparation is general. Have a look at some of the most common questions people tend to get asked in interviews so you can prepare for them:

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your professional strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why are you looking to change jobs?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What makes you a good team player?

These are the most common interview questions a candidate will be asked in English. If you can prepare answers to these questions to the best of your ability, you will give yourself the best possible head start when it comes to the interview.

Now it’s time to go and ace the interview

Now that we have given you some top tips for doing a job interview in English, it’s now up to you to prepare for your interview. If you follow all of the steps we mention in this article, you will give yourself the best possible chance to succeed. In addition to following these steps, you can also sign up for free to the ABA English course. By doing so you will get free access to 144 video classes that will help improve your English grammar. Don’t wait any longer and start improving your English with us today.

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