Few things in everyday life are dreaded more than going to a job interview. Add in the fact that you have to do the interview in English as a non-native speaker, and it makes the whole experience even more challenging.
Majority of top companies nowadays (especially the big, multinational ones) conduct their interviews in English.
For a non-native speaker, the idea of attending an interview in English can give rise to all sorts of negative feelings like doubt, anxiety and even panic. But these feelings are perfectly normal. Almost everyone who attends a job interview – even those who are native English speakers – are always a little bit afraid. After all, working for a top company is an opportunity that can change your career forever.
While you can never fully anticipate everything that might happen, the key to mastering interviews in English is and will always be preparation, preparation, PREPARATION! Here are a few tips to help you on your job interview.
1. Do your research
This is always the important first step of attending job interviews be it on your native language or in English. Researching the company you’re interviewing for in English will not only give you valuable information about the position and the company you are applying for but it will also help you gain the vocabulary you need to talk about the business. The more you can find out about the company in English, the more you will have to talk about.
Speaking a foreign language under stressful conditions (like a job interview) will most likely make your English speech less fluent. Try to calm yourself down before going for an interview. A calm and relaxed demeanor will help you build some confidence which will naturally manifest itself in the way you carry yourself and the way you speak during the job interview. A relaxed demeanor can also instantly create a positive impression to the interviewer.
3. Proper body language
Equally important to your ability to speak in English is having proper body language. It can influence the tonality of our voice in many ways. For example, a hunched posture usually results in a tone of voice that portrays less confidence. Proper body language, more specifically the use of appropriate facial expression and hand gestures, will help you convey your ideas to the interviewer more clearly especially if you’re using a foreign language like English.
4. Plan your answers
Write down what you intend to say starting from your introduction at the start of the interview to your responses during the interview. Many interview questions are standard which means you can prepare your responses ahead of time. Prepare a cheat sheet which you can review before the interview. List down some of the most common questions and prepare your answers ahead of time.
5. Mind your pacing
Note that the English language, when spoken by native speakers, has a slower pace compared to other languages. Speaking slower is especially important for individuals whose native language is inherently fast paced like most Asian languages. Try to match the pace of native English speakers during the interview. This will not only make your answers clearer but it will also give you more time to formulate your answers as you speak.
6. Speak in shorter sentences
Aside from speaking slower, remember to speak in shorter sentences to help the interviewer make sense of what you are saying. Complex sentences are tricky to navigate during job interviews especially for non-native speakers. It’s common to see candidates, even native English speakers, stumble and get lost in what they’re saying if their ideas are too complex and their sentences are too long. To ensure that the ideas you convey are understood by the interviewer, try using shorter and simpler sentences.
7. When in doubt, ask
During the job interview, you may not understand the question or you may be unsure of what the interviewer is asking. When this happens, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question or word the question differently so that you will understand it. Making up answers to questions you’re unsure of will reflect badly on you and your ability to comprehend things. The interviewer will always understand that English is not your native language, so show them you’re not afraid to ask and clear any uncertainties on your part.
Attending a job interview in English, when it isn’t your native language, is always challenging even for the most experienced candidates. But if you keep these tips in mind, you should be able to get through the interview just fine. Good luck!
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