Busuu’s recruitment leader Katie gives her expert advice on how to wow at a job interview in English.
Preparing for a job interview in English when it’s not your first language can be hard. But here’s what can make it even harder: the questions you’ll get asked at an English-speaking company may be different to those you’re used to.
This is because whereas international companies focus on finding someone with the most work experience, English-speaking companies also want to understand your character, motives and career goals.
Prepare for an English interview – and the questions you’ll get asked – with:
- My two top tips on preparing for an English interview
- 12 interview questions, and how to answer them to wow an English-speaking audience
2 top tips on preparing for an English interview
1. Research the company
Researching the company shows the interviewer that you actually want to work at their company – and to prove it, you’ve gone the extra mile to understand everything from their history, mission and values, to how they work on a day-to-day basis.
2. Research the person interviewing you
Don’t underestimate the advantage a quick stalk of your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile could give you. Maybe you’ll find out you’ve got a connection in common. Or maybe you’ll just get a better idea of who they are, and what they like.
Whatever you learn, let your findings shape the approach you take with the interviewer.
12 interview questions, and how to answer them to wow an English-speaking audience
Find my advice on how to answer the following list of questions you’ll get asked in any English interview:
1. Tell me a little bit about your experience.
This is your chance to show off your most relevant experience. But always bring everything you say back to why you want the role, and why you think you’d be the perfect fit.
2. What do you know about us?
Research is everything in an English interview – so use this question to show off what you know about the company (think their history, mission, values and competitors), and the reasons why you want to work there.
For extra points, talk about how everything you’ve learned has made you passionate about working there, and how the role fits in with your career development plan.
3. Knowing what you know about the way we do things here, what would you change?
Ask yourself what relevant and existing transferable skills you have that could help drive the organisation forward – and even what additional knowledge you might need to acquire to make an ever bigger impact.
4. Why do you want to leave your current job?
Your response will say a lot about what you’re looking for in an employer – so answer this question honestly and objectively.
For example, if the management style at your previous company didn’t suit you, say so. The interview process is a two-way street – you choose your employer as much as the employer chooses you.
Though, a word of advice: if you reply with “I want a salary rise”, or “There are no opportunities for me to grow”, make sure you’re prepared to say why.
5. How would your old boss/team describe you?
Here, the interviewer is testing your self-awareness. Be honest about who you are, but also remember that English speaking companies will want to hire people they actually like and who show them respect. So if you’re easy to get on with or a team player, make sure you say so!
6. Tell me about a situation in your previous job where you failed to meet expectations. How did you deal with that situation?
Don’t worry, the interviewer won’t judge you on your failure. We all make mistakes – they just want to know how well you cope under pressure. Bonus points if the example involves working in a team.
Most importantly, they’ll be looking for you to respond with the STAR approach:
- Situation. Give them context.
- Task. Tell them what the task entailed.
- Action. Tell them what the issue was, and how you came up with a solution.
- Result. Tell them how you implemented that solution, and what the results were.
7. Tell me an instance where you showed initiative / (insert quality here).
As with question six, you’ll need to use the STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result – approach to structure your answer.
This question can be a great way to showcase yourself as a team player. Think to use an example that shows how you contributed to wider team or company efforts, and left a legacy.
8. How would you like to see your career develop?
This is your cue to show your ambition and awareness of the potential career paths you could take.
If you can, come up with an answer that aligns your career plan with the role – and company – you’re applying for. Then use this as leverage to demonstrate how perfect you are for the position, and why you’d be excited to work there.
9. How can we help you with your career goals?
Your answer to this interview question will be similar to question eight.
Remember that it’s important to show the value you could bring to the company, as well as how the role fits in with your long-term career development plan.
Demonstrating this awareness will immediately show that the company is a good fit for you, and that you’ll take the role seriously.
10. What are your salary expectations (and why do you want that much)?
This is not a trick question. Be honest, transparent and show awareness of your worth.
Always come to the interview with two salary amounts in mind: the one you’re aiming for, and the lowest one you’d consider walking away with. That way, if the interview turns into a salary negotiation, you won’t get cornered into accepting any amount you’re unhappy with.
One more thing: be aware that salary expectations always need to be justified, based on your current base salary, benefits package and, if applicable, your bonus scheme.
So if you’re offered a base salary that looks a bit low, always consider whether the value of the benefits or bonus scheme you’re offered make up for it.
11. What is your notice period?
This is a pretty common job interview question. Employers ask this so that, if they offered you the job and you accepted, they’d know when you’d be able to start.
This is also a good time to mention any holidays you’ve got coming up.
12. Do you have any concerns about my suitability for this role?
Now, this final question is not for them to ask you: it’s for you to ask them.
Asking questions throughout an English interview is a good thing. It shows you’re curious and engaged. But this particular question serves a different purpose.
This question gives you, as the candidate, a golden opportunity to find out whether the interviewer has any doubts about you.
Because once you know their concerns, you can respond to them. Use your passion and experience to convince the interviewer that you belong at that company. That they’d be crazy if they picked anyone else but you. That they should stop the search right now and hire you on the spot.
Some final words of advice
Now that I’ve covered all the bases, I have one final thing to add.
When you’re in the room, try and turn the question-answer interview structure into a conversation.
That’s what an interview should be. A conversation between two (or more) people about whether they’d be a good fit for each other.
As I’ve said before, the interview process is a two-way street. So don’t miss your opportunity to make it one.
Learning English – or another language – for work?
We’re Busuu, an app that makes learning a language easier for everyone – especially those who are learning to boost their career.
Start learning with us for free and try one of our business courses.