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Job Interviews in English

You are facing a job interview in English, but you haven't spoken English for a long time? Keep in mind: The preparation phase before the interview is the most essential one. If you follow some basic rules in advance, there is no reason to feel insecure.
    Before the Interview

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  • First and foremost, start your preparations early enough. If you feel your English needs improvement, keep in mind that it is unrealistic to make any sensible progress in half a day. Start work on your English at the beginning of the application process. Best ? work on improving it constantly.
  • Have your CV proofread by a native speaker in order to avoid embarrassing translations of the sort ?Gymnasium = gymnasium?.
  • Familiarize yourself with the CV after it has been translated and/or proofread. It is highly embarrassing when you don?t understand your own CV.
  • Anticipate the questions: look on the internet, if you have questions in German ? translate them into English, ask colleagues and friends what questions they had in their interviews, and translate them into English.
  • Practice the interview with someone (best with an experienced trainer ? it is a worthwhile investment).
  • If you do an English intensive course before the interview, concentrate on correcting mistakes and improving fluency. New grammar will just intimidate and inhibit you during the interview ? new grammar needs to be practiced, and it takes time to settle in your head. The same applies to new vocabulary ? if you learn 500 words in the three days before the interview, you will probably end up with chaos in your head. During the training concentrate on using the words you already know correctly.
  • Film yourself, if you have the equipment ? it will help you get rid of annoying twitches and avoid repeating a word perpetually (e.g. saying ?basically? at the beginning of every sentence).
  • Practice formulating brief answers ? it is harder to express yourself succinctly in a foreign language, and time is limited.
  • Think about the information you want to convey or emphasize. It is best to make a list of the points you definitely want to mention. And then, like a politician, make sure you get them across ? even if the questions you were hoping to get asked don?t come.
  • Practice polite ways of saying ?no?. ?No? is too direct in English. A good alternative is ?actually?, e.g. ?I see you worked for company X for 3 years.? ?Actually, it was only a year and a half. I then got an interesting offer from Y, where I am now.?
  • Prepare questions you would like to ask.
  • When prompted to ?Tell us something about yourself?, do not recite your CV ? the interviewer can read that, and if you learn everything by heart, your rendition will be monotonous, and too long. Pick out the important points that should stand out, and practice presenting them in a convincing manner.
  • Familiarize yourself with your work jargon in English ? you don?t want to sound incompetent.
  • Familiarize yourself with the company?s activities ? in English. See if their internet site is available in English and look for publications ? do your homework!
  • Make sure you know how to address the interviewer in English. Ask a competent person in advance. Avoid dilettante mistakes of the sort Mr Dr Smith.
  • Learn about the national culture of your potential employer. There are plenty of publications on intercultural communication with lists of dos and don?ts for different cultures. For instance, if the company is Swedish, learn something about Sweden.
  • Lesen Sie weiter auf Seite 2: What You Should Keep in Mind during the Interview.During the Interview
  • Don?t worry about your grammar ? concentrate on fluency and effective communication.
  • Don?t worry about your English altogether ? you are not a native speaker, and nobody expects you to speak like one. You just need to show that you are proficient enough to do your job in English. So just relax! Even more so if the interviewer is also a non-native speaker ? keep in mind that they are probably just as nervous about the whole thing as you are.
  • Listen carefully, reformulate the question to make sure you?ve understood it (this will give you time to think about the answer, too), ask, if you haven?t understood.
  • Avoid saying ?I don?t understand? ? that would be admitting defeat. Use phrases like ?Sorry, I didn?t catch that.?
  • Keep your language simple. If you try to be as eloquent as you know you can be in German, you might get bogged down in complicated sentences, and end up sounding like a bumbling fool.
  • Avoid idiomatic language. An interview is a stress situation, and you might get the idiom wrong. Although Putz and Mörtel are similar, auf den Mörtel hauen sounds ridiculous. It is no different in English.
  • If the interviewer points out that your English is not good enough don?t apologize and squirm ? say that you haven?t had opportunity to use it much, but will get back into it once it becomes part of your daily work. Say you are a fast learner, and are willing to invest time and effort to get to the necessary level.
  • After the Interview
  • Think about what was good, and what could be improved.
  • Ask for feedback ? in the case of a successful interview or otherwise. Without objective feedback you will never know whether you didn?t get the job because of your English, or because you didn?t have the right work experience. That would be a missed opportunity.
  • Source: » go! ? The English Specialists, Munich
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 08.12.2006