Congratulations! You have applied for a job and now you are getting ready for that important job interview. Your English is excellent and you are looking forward to making a good impression on your future (hopefully) boss. Now, you need to make sure that you also have the right type of English for that job interview.
The job interview in English contains specific questions and appropriate answers. It also requires a certain flexibility in your usage of tenses. This feature provides tips on job interview questions and answers in English.
When you walk in the room the very first impression you make on the interviewer can have a great influence on the rest of the interview. It is important that you introduce yourself, shake hands, and are friendly. The first question is often a "breaking the ice" (establish a rapport) type of question. Don't be surprised if the interviewer asks you something like:
- How are you today?
- Did you have any trouble finding us?
- What do you think of the weather lately?
How are you today?
I'm fine thank you, and you?
I'm well thank you.
Not so well
What is most important?
Talking about your experience and credentials (qualifications) is the most important part of any job interview. Your qualifications include your education from High School on and any special training you may have done in the past. Your experience is any work that you have done that is directly or indirectly related to the job you are applying for.
Remember that your education took place in the past. Therefore you need to use the past tenses, for example:
I attended the University of Helsinki from 1987 to 1993.
I graduated with a degree in agricultural planning.
If you are currently a student you should use the following present tenses:
I am currently studying at the University of New York and will graduate with a degree in Economics in the spring.
I am studying English at the Borough Community College.
Remember to include any training you may have had when talking about your education. This includes any computer training, correspondence courses, etc. Make sure to mention your English studies. This is very important as English is not your first language and the employer may be concerned about this fact. Assure the employer that you are continuing to improve your English skills by any courses you may be taking, or by saying that you study a certain number of hours a week to improve your skills.
Experience and Qualifications
Work experience is by far the most important topic of any job interview (at least in the United States and Britain). Therefore, it is important to explain what experience you have in detail. Generally, employers want to know exactly what you did and how well you accomplished your tasks. This is not the time to be modest. Be confident, and talk freely about your accomplishments in past employment.
The tenses you should use are the following:
When talking about current employment be careful to use the present perfect or present perfect continuous. This signals that you are still performing these tasks at your current job, for example:
Smith and Co. have employed me for the last 3 years as a salesperson.
I have been creating customer contacts for 6months.
When talking about past employers use the past tenses to signal that you are no longer working for that company, for example:
I was employed by Jackson's from 1989 to 1992 as a clerk.
I worked as a receptionist at the Ritz while I was living in New York.
Talking about Responsibilities
Most importantly, you will need to demonstrate your qualifications and skills, which are required for the job you are applying for. The job skills that you have acquired in the past may not have been for the same exact job. Therefore, it is important to show how the capabilities you do have relate to the job you are applying for.
I remember a wonderful example of adapting skills to fit the job desired. I had a student from Moscow who had worked as the manager of an important theater in Moscow. Unfortunately, he had to start from the beginning in New York and therefore wanted to get a job as a rodent exterminator (someone who kills rats!). When asked what kind of experience he had, he replied that, as the manager of the theater, he had had to make sure that the theater was always rodent free and was therefore capable of doing the job well! This is a fantastic example of the type of adaptability most employers in the United States are looking for.
On the next page you will find a list of appropriate vocabulary to use in the job interviewing process. Good luck!