Important Tips for an Interview in English

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David English
March 8, 2016
3748
3 minutes
About this article: Learning how to interview well takes practice and knowledge. If you have the right skills for the job, then the key to success is clearly communicating your experience.

I worked as an analyst for a global corporation for almost four years. I had many responsibilities and when a coworker quit, I was asked to help find his replacement. I worked with HR (Human Resources) and interviewed over twenty candidates, some who spoke English as a second language. Here are a few tips from my experience:

  • Give clear examples
  • Don't worry about grammar
  • Ask insightful questions

Give Clear Examples



Don’t simply make general statements! Everybody makes the same general statements:

  • "I'm very organized."
  • “I’m a hard worker.”
  • "I learn quickly."
  • "I know how to __."
  • Etc.

The statements above don't help the recruiter understand how you are different from others. You are probably saying the same things the person before you said. Instead, give examples:

I'm very organized:

"While working at XYZ Company I had an average of 5-10 client projects due each week, plus ad hoc requests. I handled the workload by keeping my calendar up-to-date, always replying to emails within six hours, taking a lot of notes, planning my project timelines, and was always being proactive about potential obstacles."

I'm a hard worker (notice how you can use different tenses):

“When clients add new requests to existing projects, I stay late to make sure the project is still finished on time.” (General statement: present simple)

“At the last company I worked at, I had a team member quit mid-project. I stayed late and even came in on weekends to ensure the project was finished on time.” (Specific example in the past: past simple)

Both tenses provide correct, strong answers. Personally, I prefer the second answer because it gives a real example and that makes it more believable.

Don't Worry About Grammar



When you worry about your grammar, you stop to think. That's a problem because it causes you to speak very slowly. It's difficult to listen to people speak one word every few seconds. Two things happen:

  • The recruiter has to wait a long time to hear the complete sentence, which means they cannot use context to guess at words you pronounce incorrectly.
  • The recruiter gets bored. They think about other things.

Worry about grammar before an interview but not during an interview. After you begin the interview, it is important that you speak at a normal rate. If you're worried that what you said was wrong or not understood, ask!

"Did that answer your question?"

"Was that clear or should I rephrase it?"

Remember, you want the recruiter to feel that it is easy to communicate with you. Smile, be friendly, and be yourself. Don't think about your grammar. Think about giving good, clear answers.

Ask Insightful Questions



The word for people who try to always achieve more than average is "overachiever". Recruiters like overachievers. However, you should not say "I am an overachiever." That sounds arrogant. Instead, show them by doing your research and asking insightful questions.

Before the interview, read the job description and take notes. After that, go online and research the company:

  • Go on their website and read about the company's goals.
  • Where are they trying to grow?
  • What new products have they launched?
  • Check if the company has been in the news recently.
  • What are they talking about on their social media pages?

Now think of some good questions that will show you did research and that you understand the job. Examples:

Social Media Manager

"I saw that you've been running a lot of Facebook ad campaigns. It looks like you're using mostly images. Have you tried using videos yet? In my experience, videos get higher engagement rates."

Web Application Developer

"The job description said the position would be working on the website's search area. I went on the site and tried out the search. I noticed there's a bug when searching by price and location. Here, I wrote down the details. Also, I tested the search function on several browsers and noticed it runs very slowly on Internet Explorer. I have a few ideas on how to speed it up."

This strategy's goal is to help differentiate you. It makes you memorable. It shows that you know your field. It also shows a lot of great characteristics like taking initiative and being thorough.

Good Luck


Those are just a few tips. A successful interview requires much more than these things but hopefully these tips were new and helpful. Practice, work intelligently, work hard, and you'll do well. Good luck.
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Hi, I'm Dave. I'm American, I live about 15 minutes from Boston and work for a tech company as a Product Owner. Previously I worked for a different tech company as a Business Analyst and before that I built my own apps while traveling in Asia and Europe. If you're an iPhone user, feel free to check out Do.List or Life Lists! I went to college for business and graduated with a Bachelors in Business Administration and a Minor in Computer Science. As it so happens, thanks to my time traveling, I'm actually a certified English teacher as well. While learning to program and building my first app, I helped a handful of students prepare for job interviews in Europe and the US. It was a tremendous pleasure helping play a small part in them landing the jobs they were looking for. Most of my students were software engineers, but others were in finance, graduate students, and even founders preparing to pitch their startups. It was a ton of fun. I've decided to start teaching a few hours a week again, so if you're looking to talk business, talk tech, or prepare for an interview, get in touch!
Flag
English
globe
United States
time
751
English
Native
,
Spanish
A2
Hi, I'm Dave. I'm American, I live about 15 minutes from Boston and work for a tech company as a Product Owner. Previously I worked for a different tech company as a Business Analyst and before that I built my own apps while traveling in Asia and Europe. If you're an iPhone user, feel free to check out Do.List or Life Lists! I went to college for business and graduated with a Bachelors in Business Administration and a Minor in Computer Science. As it so happens, thanks to my time traveling, I'm actually a certified English teacher as well. While learning to program and building my first app, I helped a handful of students prepare for job interviews in Europe and the US. It was a tremendous pleasure helping play a small part in them landing the jobs they were looking for. Most of my students were software engineers, but others were in finance, graduate students, and even founders preparing to pitch their startups. It was a ton of fun. I've decided to start teaching a few hours a week again, so if you're looking to talk business, talk tech, or prepare for an interview, get in touch!