Who likes interviews? It’s pretty well acknowledged that both interviewers and interviewees dread them. Interviewers because they often have to sit down through hours and hours of the same questions, and interviewees because they want to do well and hopefully get the job. Now imagine the interview is in English: the whole ordeal becomes even more nerve-wracking. Not to worry, though, because I have some tips up my sleeve to help you nail an interview even if it is in English.
Tip #1 The most important part of an interview is, contrary to popular belief, body language. Effective communication comprises three parts, and physiology makes up the most significant part with just over 50%. That’s good news if you don’t feel completely comfortable with the language the interview is conducted in! There are three main parts to it:
- Interaction requires gestures to flow naturally. Try to mirror what your interviewer does: if they use their hands a lot to accentuate a point (as Americans typically do), try to do the same. If they are more reserved (as the British usually are), then try not to exaggerate any gestures. However, there is something to be careful of: your gestures must look genuine. If they don’t, your interviewer might think you’re making fun of them, and that’s not the point.
- Pay attention to your posture. Take care to sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Once again, mirroring is important when it comes to posture. If your interviewer sits with their hands folded on the table, so should you.
- Imagine your interviewer is a very friendly person and asks you questions with a big smile on their face. If you sit there with a stern expression on your face, you will not have managed to enter in their world and the whole process is for naught, hence the importance of facial expressions.
Tip #2 Another part of a successful interview, about a third, is how you use your voice. Similarly to body language, it’s important to mirror your interviewer. Make sure your tone, volume, and pace match. Someone who speaks quickly by far prefers someone who also speaks fast. If you think the pace is too fast, try to match it in the beginning and gradually slow down to a pace that you like, and your interviewer will mirror you.
Tip #3 The least important part of an interview, surprisingly, are your words. Of course, if you have the skills and competencies for a job, your interviewer will be looking for someone who fits with the company they represent. That’s why it’s a good idea to use the same kind of language as your interviewer – those key words could be part of the workplace culture and thus the norm there. Using them as well would show that you can easily integrate into their team.
Now, if you attend an interview in English, and you’re not 100% confident language-wise, you may feel obligated to apologize for your poor level. My advice to you: don’t do that. You are making the effort to communicate in the language chosen by the interviewer, by definition you are already taking a huge step in their direction. So don’t point out this “weakness,” instead why not phrase it so that you showcase a strength. You could for example start off by saying something like, “My strength is in writing however please bear with me if I ask you to repeat.” Prepare a few phrases like this in advance, for example:
- “I’m afraid that I’m not familiar with that. What do you mean?”
- “I want to make sure I understand your point, could you expand?”
- “Does that make sense?” If not, then say, “Let me clarify.”
And finally, let me tell you this: if you have the skills and experience for the job, along with these tips, a job interview can become an opportunity rather than a nightmare. Business is about people, so make sure to create a rapport. Similarities in people attract each other!
Don’t keep these tips to yourself, share the joy of nailing your interviews in English and tell me which tips you applied.
Stop Learning, Start speaking English with Leonilda Renaldo, Language Coach for professionals