How to prepare for a job interview in English

Two people shaking hands in an office

Do you have a job interview in English coming up soon? These tips will help you to get ready and impress your potential employer.

If you've been invited to a job interview, it's a good sign. It means the company thinks you have potential and they want to know more about you.

Interviewers can sometimes ask unpredictable questions, but you can increase your chance of success by preparing well! Here's how.

Study the job description

The job description says what skills, experience and personal characteristics the company needs.

Think of examples of your past work that demonstrate your strengths in these areas. You may have other skills too, but focus on those mentioned in the job description.

Anticipate questions and prepare answers

Here are some common questions to prepare for.

  • Why do you want this job?
  • What can you bring to this role?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What challenges could you face in this job?

Your answers will be more persuasive if you include real examples of your work. For instance:

Q: What can you bring to this role?

A: Good time management. It's one of my strengths. In my last role I organised our office relocation, which was a huge project involving over a hundred staff in only three months. I delegated work within my team to save time. I set deadlines for completion of the project stages and I monitored progress regularly. Because of this, the relocation was completed on time and on budget. I feel confident I can bring these skills into this role.

Some questions may ask you to talk about weaknesses, failures or challenges. Nevertheless, be optimistic. For example, if you have to talk about a failure you experienced, you can also say what you learned from it or how you avoid repeating it.

Look at your CV and guess what interviewers will want to know. For instance, if you have any gaps between jobs, they may ask what you did during that time.

Research the company

Find out as much as you can. Check the company's website, LinkedIn and social media, and ask your friends and colleagues.

You can use this information in the interview. If you know about the company's current activities, for example, you can say which ones you are keen to be involved in. It will show your interest in the job.

Practise English

Here are some suggestions for vocabulary practice:

  • positive adjectives to describe you (e.g. determined, resilient) and your work (e.g. innovative, successful)
  • verbs to describe your achievements and actions (e.g. coordinate, direct, develop, create)
  • words to describe projects and goals (e.g. objective, success criteria, implementation)
  • words to describe professional development (e.g. training, qualifications)
  • technical terms in your field
  • phrases for social interaction (e.g. Nice to meet you; It's my pleasure).

Also check the pronunciation of any technical terms, the company's name and the interviewers' names.

Practise speaking English aloud until you feel comfortable and confident. It's a good idea to do a practice interview – ask a friend to ask you some questions and practise responding in English.

Prepare your own questions

You may have a chance to ask your interviewers some questions. This is a good way to show your interest as well as to find out more about the job. Here are some suggestions.

  • What do you think the challenges will be for this role?
  • What's the next step in the recruitment process after this interview?
  • When will you notify candidates about the outcome of the interview?
  • Will there be any support for training and development in this role?

Prepare the practicalities

Decide what clothes you will wear and get them looking smart. Pack in your bag anything that you need to bring, such as your ID card or certificates. Take a bottle of water too. Arriving late makes a bad impression, so plan to arrive at the venue early.

For online interviews, find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Turn on your device's camera and check that the picture is clear and the room lighting is not too bright or dark. Check that the microphone picks up your voice clearly too. Have a look around the interview platform (e.g. Zoom or Skype) and get familiar with the controls (how to mute, share screen, etc.). Also prepare any notes that you want to refer to.

Good luck in your interview!

Discussion

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Average: 5 (5 votes)

Submitted by User_1 on Wed, 07/02/2024 - 14:04

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Hello,
About this question: "Why did you leave your last job?"
I would like to know the best way to answer this question when the last job was lost due to the ongoing financial crisis.
There may be time gaps that put the application at a disadvantage compared to others and it is not easy to find the right way to reply to this question.
What is the most effective answer to this condition?
Thank you.

Hello User_1,

When you have a time gap in your work history the normal phrase we use is 'between jobs', as in I'm between jobs at the moment. This implies that your period not working is (or was) merely a temporary state – one which gave you a (well deserved) chance to recharge your batteries and improve your skills.

If your last job was lost because of the financial crisis then that is what you should say. No-one will assume you were a bad worker. Companies reduce their workforce all the time and those who lose their jobs do so for many reasons: earning more than others (making redundancy a greater saving for the company), being at the company less time, being in a department which is being merged or closed, working in an area with new or greater competition etc.

The job site Indeed has some good advice articles on topics like this:

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter for your suggestions.
I am between jobs at the moment and, for this reason, I am trying to improve my English skills.
For you, as an English teacher, do you think I am getting better?
Actually, even if learning English is hard work... I don’t know what it is worth in the work world.
Please, could you give me your feedback?
Thank you

Hello User_1,

I haven't been following your writing in your comments as closely as I would like to be able to, but from what I have seen I would say that you have improved. Your writing has always been quite good, but the past few comments of yours that I've seen have sounded more natural than the ones I remember at the beginning.

I'm sure that there are many work contexts where English is not important or useful, but in many others -- probably more than not -- my understanding is that it is.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Hello Kirk,
Thanks for your feedback.
I am working hard to improve my English, and I hope to get better.