Speaking English in interviews   

You’ve landed an interview for the job of your dreams! You know you’re qualified to do the work. But there’s only one problem: English. You might get nervous and distracted when you have to speak your second language in high-pressure settings.   This is where English interview-prep comes in. Knowing a few commonly-used phrases, could go a long way in allaying your interview-induced jitters.   

You may hear these words and phrases in the interview:   

Candidate: the person applying for the job  

Employer: ‘I’ve interviewed 5 candidates for this role so far. What sets you apart?’     

Soft skills: refers to your social skills, your likeability, and your ability to get along with other people.  Employer: ‘Education is not that important to me, but I need a candidate with excellent soft skills. Can you be friendly and polite to our clients? I also need you to get along with everyone in the office. Are you a team player?    

Client-facing/customer-facing: describes roles that require you to speak to clients.  Candidate: ‘I am a people’s person. So, I like customer-facing jobs.’    

Industry standard: What is common and acceptable in the field you work in.   Candidate: ‘I’m sorry, I cannot accept a rate of 9£ per hour – the industry standard is 11£ per hour.’    

Liaise: communicating with people in a formal way  Employer: ‘I need a candidate who can liaise with high-profile clients. Can you make people feel that our company appreciates their business?’    

B2C: Business to client. When a business makes a transaction with or communicates with a client.  Candidate: ‘I have years of B2C experience, so I know how important it is to keep loyal clients.’     

B2B: Business to business. When a business works with, transacts with or communicates with another business.   Employer: ‘Currently I have a single team doing both B2C and B2B and I’m looking for a candidate who can take over all B2B transactions.’ 

You can expect to hear these questions and phrases:    

So, tell me about yourself.  

This opening line is commonly used in both skilled- and unskilled work interviews. The question is deliberately open-ended and designed to give employers a chance to gauge a candidate’s soft skills.   

So, tell me about yourself should not be countered with another question (like Can you be more specific?, or What would you like to know?) in a job interview. Employers expect you to answer with a brief and personable summary of your professional experience. It is a good idea to let your personality and likes and dislikes show here. For example: ‘I’ve worked as a financial planner for the past 3 years and it really suits me! In this example, it really suits me, gives your employer a chance to see your character and temperament. If they only wanted to know the facts of your education and experience, they could have hired you based on reading your CV. Don’t be afraid to be honest, but balance negative statements with positive statements. For example: ‘I don’t enjoy doing repetitive work, but I find that I’m always incredible productive with a varied workload.’  

Let’s speak about your salary expectations.  

You may have heard that it is rude to speak about money in many English-speaking cultures around the world, and this may be true for your culture too. But salary expectations are not considered taboo within the context of an interview. Your employer needs to know if they can realistically employ you and you need a fair chance to assess whether or not the job will pay your bills.  It is a good idea to research the industry standard before your attend the interview. You can refer to the industry standard when speaking about the salary you feel you deserve. If you are new to the field, you may want to ask a rate that is below the industry standard. For example: ‘The industry standard salary for a front-end developer is about £40 000 per year, but I don’t have a lot of experience, so I would accept a salary of about £37 000.’ Or ‘The industry standard rate for a graphic designer is about £27 per hour, but I have a lot of experience and this will be a very challenging role, so I would accept a salary of about £30 per hour.’ 

Why should I hire you? or Tell me why you are a good candidate for this role? or What sets you apart from other candidates? As with tell me about yourself, many employees might use this kind of question to assess a candidate’s soft skills. The job you are applying for, may very well be one in which you need to be assertive and well-spoken – even if you are doing behind-the scenes work, like programming or designing, you might still be required to co-operate with a team of co-workers. With Why should I hire you type questions, candidates get the chance to say how their qualifications and experience would fit in the company culture. For example: ‘We’re a tight-knit team and everyone works very hard here, tell me why you’d be a good addition to our office.’  

Do you have any questions for me? Conventional wisdom tells us that candidates should always answer ‘yes’ to this final question, even if there’s nothing they really need to know. You can use this question to address anything you haven’t been able to during the interview. If you can’t think of anything, a question about the company culture or working conditions would be a good choice. You can use this question to communicate that you’re excited by the idea of being employed by the company. For example: ‘Yes, it was really interesting for me to learn more about your B2B policies in this interview, and I’d love to try your techniques if you employ me. Could you tell me if you train new employees in your B2B approach’? Or: ‘Yes, it sounds like you’ve created a positive and productive office environment for your team. Would you mind describing what a day-in-the-life of someone in my role would look like?’ https://unsplash.com/photos/Dx6lpoMAG-Y

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