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  • Business English: Interviewing for a Job

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    With so many people competing for jobs, getting to the interview stage based on the strength of your resume and cover letter is an impressive feat. But if you want to actually land the position, you can’t just rest on your laurels. You need to wow the employers in your interview and make them feel like you’ll fit in with their work culture. That means knowing the lingo, understanding what questions you can expect, and being ready with the right responses—all while appearing calm and personable. Keep reading for some suggestions on how to do just that.


    • work environment
    • management style
    • overqualified
    • recruiter
    • colleagues
    • background
    • self-disciplined
    • methodical
    • attention to detail
    • implement
    • facilitate
    • delegate
    • deadline
    • candidate
    • salary requirements
    • HR (human resources)
    • industry

    Know the appropriate tense to use

    For current job responsibilities, use the present simple tense. For a project you’re in the middle of, use the present continuous tense. For past positions, use the simple past tense.

    Your interviewer may start with friendly questions

    The idea is to make you feel more comfortable. When responding, be polite, friendly, and concise. Examples include:

    • Q: “How are you?” A: “I’m fine. Thank you. How are you?”
    • Q: “Did you have trouble finding us?” A: “I made one wrong turn, but I got here all right.”
    • Q: “How was your weekend?” A: “Great! I spent some time with friends. How was yours?”

    “Can you tell me about yourself?” It’s very common for interviewers to start by asking an open-ended question like this. Begin by sharing a little bit of personal information, such as where you are from or how long you’ve lived in the country. Then provide a brief summary of your most relevant and impressive experience. The idea is to give a general introduction, not to provide too many details.

    Be prepared for other common questions

    • Can you tell me about your last job?
    • What do you know about our organization?
    • What’s your greatest strength? What’s your greatest weakness?
    • Why do you want to work here?
    • When can you begin?
    • Why did you leave your last job?
    • What is your greatest accomplishment?
    • What are your long-term career goals?
    • What experience do you have with…?
    • Are you willing to travel?
    • Can you describe your management style?
    • Why do you think you’re qualified for this job?
    • What type of work environment do you prefer?
    • What do you think you can contribute to our company?

    Share examples

    When possible, tell a brief story that showcases a qualification. For instance, when asked if you have attention to detail, you can share a brief anecdote about how you caught an error in a report your company was about to send out.

    Practice, but don’t memorize

    You want to be prepared with responses, but you also don’t want to sound too rehearsed. Don’t worry too much about making grammar mistakes. Instead, focus on being professional, friendly, and polite while getting your point across.

    As you prepare for job interviews, if you’d like to write or rewrite your English resume and cover letters, explore this service.

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  • Comments on this post (1 comment)

    • Brenda Sexton-Cooper says...

      These tips are good for native speakers of English as well.

      On December 10, 2014

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