Based on insights into who is really getting the job (plus exactly how they do it), this podcast is a new and simple approach to job interview preparation. Each episode is only five minutes long. This way, you can make progress even if you only have a couple of minutes. It contains one specific topic, gives you the relevant background and a clear and simple, step-by-step approach to help you prepare the perfect answers.
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Interviewing in a foreign language can be challenging. In this episode, I share a couple of hands-on tips and tricks to help you prepare for such an interview and calm your nerves.
Hi everyone, and welcome to my podcast. Many candidates I have coached or that have used our digital coaching app say that their biggest challenge is having an interview in English, which is not their first language. Actually, I have been there myself, and I can still remember how nervous I was when, 13 years ago, I had my first interview in English.
So, in today’s episode, I will share a couple of hands-on tips and tricks to help you prepare for such an interview and calm your nerves.
Step 1: Choose your perspective
The recruiter is aware of your background and that you are not a native-English speaker. So, if you have been invited to interview, they don’t consider this a red flag, and you most likely overestimated the importance of the language aspect. To help you put this into perspective, jot down all the skills and qualifications listed in the job description. It might say something about proficiency in English, but it is most likely only one out of 10+ things mentioned. So, don’t give this 10% 90% of your attention. And after all, a job description is like a wish list, and employers know that it is not likely that they will find a candidate that fulfills everything they’re looking for.
Step 2: Focus on the value you can provide
Employers hire people because they expect them to create value for their business. So, set the language aspect aside for a second and think about what the successful candidate in this role would deliver. Then, prepare a list of your previous achievements that prove you are the right person for the position. Once you have your list, add a second column and quantify your accomplishments. For example, suppose you are interviewing for a data analyst role. In that case, you might have analyzed data sets with up to 1M records in your current job, and your work has helped identify and remove process bottlenecks, which increased efficiency by 15%. Now, the reports you will create in the new role when presenting the findings of your analyses might not be in flawless English. But that will not change your work’s positive impact and value; namely, providing insight that can help improve the business. So, during the interview, focus on the value aspect, not the language aspect, and let your accomplishments speak for themselves.
Step 3: Prepare for the interview
We have established that the company has not invited you to an interview to assess your language skills but, rather, to determine if you can provide value for them and that you have the skills and experiences to do a great job. Now, you might still be a bit nervous about the actual conversation with the interviewer. Again, I would not overthink this, but there are a couple of things you can do to prepare. First, review the job description and list all role- or industry-specific jargon. Next, add all words that are new to you or that you find difficult to pronounce. Then, continue by adding the most important words in your native language you use daily at work if you don’t know what they are in English. Once your list is complete, look up the translations and practice the pronunciation. Check out this episode’s show notes on my website for a list of free online tools that can help you with this.
Step 4: Avoid misunderstandings
A common mistake candidates make when being interviewed in a foreign language is trying to answer a question they did not completely understand. You might think that admitting that you did not understand the interviewer is bad because it shows that your English is not perfect. But, on the other hand, you don’t want to end up talking about something off point. A strategy to avoid this common pitfall in most cases is to do two things. First, if you realize that the interviewer is talking very fast, ask them politely at the beginning of the interview to speak a bit slower. Native speakers sometimes unintentionally forget that non-native speakers might otherwise have difficulty following. The second thing you can do is ask the interviewer to confirm that you have understood the question correctly. You might, for example, say, “Mike, if I understand you correctly, you want me to summarize the steps I usually take when analyzing a large data set. Is that correct?” And if you did not understand the questions at all, ask for clarification by saying, for example, “I am really sorry, Sarah. I did not quite get that. Could you please repeat the question?”
Step 5: Practice
Practicing is the most important thing you can do to calm your nerves and prepare. Find someone who can do a mock interview with you. Ideally, this is someone who is an experienced interviewer and feels comfortable having the conversation in English. Answering their questions and simulating the interview situation in a safe environment will make it much easier for you to feel confident and nail the actual interview.
These were the five steps. Thank you for listening, and I hope this was helpful to you.