How to Prepare for a Job Interview in English (When your First Language isn’t English)

It’s a great location and your commute would be under 30 minutes door to door. They’ve got good benefits and a sweet 401K. After the first year, you get 3 weeks of vacation, and there’s even a conference in Europe once a year (which means you can basically go back home to visit your family for free!). This is your dream job, but first, you must nail the job interview.

You’re in your best suit, you’re sweating a bit, and you’re tapping your foot nervously waiting for your (hopefully) future boss to call you into her office.

As if that weren’t enough stress, English is not your first language, so you have the added worry of your word choice, clear pronunciation, cultural correctness and the tone of your voice.

To ensure you have a successful job interview, there are a few things you can do.

First, write out a list of questions that you think will be asked during the job interview.

If this is challenging, write out the job duties one by one, and then write out possible questions that they might ask you about your experience with each of those duties. Make sure you can clearly tell the story about how you have mastered each of those responsibilities.

Prepare a list of questions that you will ask.

Feel free to ask questions throughout the interview as this will show that you are very interested and are excited to learn more about the company. We recommend that you come prepared with a few questions that you will ask them. But even if they answered all your questions throughout the interview, try and find new questions to ask. You can prepare questions based on the company’s history, the team or the job itself.

Practice your responses, but don’t memorize them word for word.

While memorizing it sounds like a good idea, it can actually backfire. For one, it sounds too rehearsed and you sound a bit robotic. Your future boss wants to get to know the real you, and if you sound stiff, then that will be difficult to do. Also, when you memorize answers, you can easily blank out and forget what you’ve memorized. Then, it seems as if you do not actually know your own experience and the background of your personal story, which of course you do. But nerves can often get the better of us. So it’s best not to memorize it and just make sure you know the general idea of your answers.

Make sure you can describe yourself and your work correctly.

Be sure to ask a friend or coworker to look over the words you will use to describe yourself and your work. Sometimes we think we know the definition of a word, but in different contexts the word can mean something different. A native speaker will be able to give you the thumbs up or the thumbs down when it comes to word choice. Some adjectives sound strange describing work situations, so it’s best to get a second opinion before you use them in an interview.

Speak more slowly than you normally would.

This might seem like obvious advice, but no matter how many times I tell my clients to slow down, they forget, and start speaking very quickly again. When you have an accent, this really hinders how easy it is to understand you. During an interview, you really want to make sure that your future boss feels confident in your ability to communicate. You want to speak slowly like you’re giving a presentation to a huge crowd. Make sure you are pronouncing things correctly. To be sure, we suggest practicing with a native speaker, or even a tutor, so that they can say, “Hey, I’m not quite sure what that word is that you just said.” And then, you can get the right pronunciation.

How to Prepare for a Job Interview in English (when your first language is not English)

Keep the tone professional, but confident.

In your own culture, it might not be appropriate to brag about your accomplishments or speak confidently, but in America, this is important (to a certain extent) in a job interview. Your future boss not only wants to learn more about your experience and your successes, but also get to know your personality, and if you will get along with the rest of the team. IF it’s a leadership role, you might want to portray a leader in the interview. So put your chin up, sit up straight, chest out, with a strong voice. Most Americans speak with a deeper voice than those in other countries, so you can even do some mimicking of American actors to get your voice going strong before your interview.

Know what is culturally appropriate.

Research more about the company and its culture. Sure, knowing the American interview culture is critical, but also knowing the culture of the company. Does the company have ping pong tables in the break room, and do yoga retreats or is everyone serious and straight-laced? Know before you go.

And when it comes to the American interview culture, as mentioned, be confident, speak with a deep confident voice, be sure to bring some questions that you have about the job, and don’t be afraid to ask them. Smile, enjoy yourself, and act as if you don’t need the job, but that you are interested in it. And if you need a more comprehensive job interview checklist for non-native speakers, you can check out this blog post here.

We hope this has helped you prepare for your dream job interview. If you work in your non-native language, English, and you’d like help with American accent work, pronunciation, clear communication, word choice, tone or email writing, reach out to us for a $35 trial lesson at www.Trufluency.com – where we get you truly fluent.