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Talking your way into a job

Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur von Business Spotlight
?Englisch fließend in Wort und Schrift" - das schreibt sich so leicht im Lebenslauf. Doch wenn der Traumarbeitgeber zum Vorstellungsgespräch in englischer Sprache einlädt, flattern vielen Bewerbern die Nerven. Dabei gibt es einige simple Tricks, wie man gut durchs Job-Interview kommt.
Of all the job candidates I have interviewed at Spotlight magazine over the past ten years, two stick out in my mind: A woman who said: "Although I have seen your magazines on sale at the railway station, I've never actually read them." And a man who in the middle of the interview suddenly said: "If I were you, I wouldn't give me this job."

So, who got the job? Correct - neither of them. And who came closer? Certainly not the woman. She had broken one of the golden rules of job interviews: know the company to whom you are applying, and know their products. After that comment, I switched off.

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And what about the man? Strangely, his comment made me feel more positive towards him. I liked his honesty and directness; he knew he didn't have all the qualifications for the job. Unfortunately, however, he made a serious mistake. Although he was a magician in his spare time, he hadn't brought any tricks to the interview. Now, I love magic, so if he had brought some tricks, who knows ...?

These two cases illustrate three important points about job interviews. First, there is no excuse for not doing your homework on your potential future employer. Second, honesty is usually the best policy, although it is not necessary to be quite as direct as the magician was. Third, subjective factors play a role, however much we like to believe that we're objective.

When going to a job interview in English - and it is a good idea to confirm in advance which language the interview will be in - extra preparation is necessary:

Practice makes perfect: Think about likely questions (see below) and prepare answers to them. Practice with a friend and record your answers so that you can hear how you sound. Would you give yourself the job?

Back to basics: Your interviewer will immediately start forming an impression of you. So learn to introduce yourself clearly and confidently. The best way is simply to say your name: "Good morning. Birgit Michl." Refer to your interviewer with their title and last name - "Nice to meet you, Dr Roberts" - unless they invite you to use their first name.

Small is big: Take the opportunity to warm up before the interview by making small talk in English with the receptionist. Small talk at the start of interview - for example, on whether you found the office easily - also allows you to relax, and to show that you understand English and can use the language confidently.

Powerful past: To describe your achievements to date, use the simple past of "power verbs": "I created a new system for ..."; "I increased sales by ten per cent"; "I launched our new product range". The present perfect ("I have ...") is used when there is a clear link to the present: "Over the past three years, I have modernised ... ."

Future plans: Talk about what you could bring to the job by using phrases such as "I'm sure I would be able to ..."; "I believe I could ..."; "I look forward to ...(+ "-ing"); "I would ...". Remember that to get the job you must solve the interviewer's problem. Therefore, tell them what you can do for their company, not how happy they would make you by offering you the position.

Question time: Interviews are a two-way process. You need to be able to ask some intelligent questions. So, practice forms such as: "How do you produce your ...?"; "What are your plans for ...?"; "When will you be making a decision?".

Who's perfect? Your interviewer wants to see if you can communicate effectively in English. Don't worry too much about mistakes: they can even be charming. Just smile.

All's well that ends well: The last impression is almost as important as the first one. Be polite and show enthusiasm: "It was very nice to meet you, and I am excited by the prospect of working for you. I look forward to hearing from you."

Practice, practice, practice: Before going to a job interview in English, practice your answers to questions such as:
1. Did you find your way to the office easily?
2. Why do you feel you would be suitable for this job?
3. What exactly are your responsibilities in your current job?
4. What have been your biggest successes?
5. What is your greatest strength/weakness?
6. What are your career goals?
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 21.04.2002