How to Prepare for a Job Interview in English If It’s Not Your First Language

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Working a job where you must speak a language other than your mother tongue can be very challenging, especially if you’re employed in a technical field. You won’t find a lot of esoteric vocabulary in language textbooks, so it’s important to make sure you know the lingo used in your niche. The same goes for job interviews, which make everybody nervous but can feel even more daunting if you’re insecure about your English language skills. 

Even if you’re perfectly comfortable speaking a language, answering questions about yourself posed by a stranger assessing your skills is hard. Doing a job interview in English when it’s not your mother tongue can be downright intimidating. The hiring manager will understand that English isn’t your first language, so grammatical mistakes won’t cost you the job as long as the interviewer can understand what you’re saying. Still, it’s an added pressure that native speakers don’t have to cope with. Don’t worry, though—there are ways you can prepare to ensure your meeting is a success. 

First of all, remind yourself that your qualifications got you an invitation to interview, which means you have what it takes to get the job. Since your resume lists your language competencies, the hiring manager should already be aware of your native tongue, and they won’t be expecting perfect English from you—they’re interested in your skills and experience. Building up your confidence is one of the most important things you can do before a job interview as it will help you feel more at ease. If you get a bit insecure, remind yourself that the employer already thinks you could be a good fit, so walk in there with a strong sense of your worth. 

If you’re still feeling unsure and believe you could benefit from the help of a professional, set up a mock interview with one of our job success experts. With the constructive feedback they’ll provide, you can improve your interview skills and gain confidence. If there are any major problems with your English—for example, a word you’re misusing or a phrase that doesn’t make sense—our experts can help you eliminate these issues. How else can you prepare so you don’t feel self-conscious about your English? 


Doing thorough research on the field, the company, and the specific role you’re applying for will help you prepare for the topics and vocabulary you will likely encounter during the interview. Learning more about the job should give you a very clear idea of what the company needs, what skills the position requires, what tasks you’ll be expected to take on, and any technical tools you will be asked about during the interview. 

Take your time to explore the company website and read any news articles about it to get a good sense of what it will expect from you. This is an important step for any job applicant, regardless of their native language—you want a firm grasp of what this employer is like so you can adapt your answers and demonstrate your knowledge of the company to the interviewer.

This sort of research offers added benefits to non-native speakers. If there are any difficult terms or complex theories you don’t completely get or can’t fully explain in English, read up on them or, even better, find some videos or podcasts that can help you understand and pronounce difficult words. Consuming lots of content—books, blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.—on relevant topics will not enable you to refine your English but may also help you hone your skills. Remember that preparation is the key to success.


The best thing you can do to prepare for any job interview, regardless of the language it’s to be conducted in, is to practice. Rehearsing for your interview, preferably with someone else, will help you polish the stories you tell to highlight your experiences and match your skills to the employer’s needs. It can be hard to recount stories smoothly and confidently even in your native language, so practice is absolutely essential. 

Recording your practice interviews and watching them can help you correct your answers and become more mindful of your body language. It’s recommended that everyone do it, whatever their native language is. After all, your body language may be entirely different from what you see in your head. As a non-native speaker, you get an added benefit—it’s much easier to analyze your grammar mistakes and pronunciation when you’re watching a recording of yourself. If there are certain grammatical points you keep struggling with or words you’re mispronouncing, work on them before your interview. 

Rehearse in English your answers to common job interview questions as well as specific technical questions related to the position. Most interviewers will ask you a combination of behavioral, technical, and personal questions, so expect to talk about your strengths and weaknesses, your goals and expectations, your ability to work alone and in a team, and your leadership skills. 

Try to practice a variety of answers and select a few anecdotes to highlight why your experience makes you the ideal candidate for the job. If there are any words, terms, or phrases you’re unsure about, take the time to look them up and write them down to remember their correct usage and pronunciation. 

Don’t worry if your English isn’t perfect—that’s not a realistic expectation. A mistake here or there or a slight accent can be charming, so rather than obsessing over grammar and pronunciation, focus on ensuring that your answers flow smoothly and are easy to understand. The more you practice, the more confidence you can build in both your interview skills and English skills.


Before you sit down for your interview, read any messages the employer may have shared with you, go over your rehearsal video or record a new one, and make sure you’re being as consistent as possible in your vocabulary, tense usage, and syntax. The employer knows English isn’t your first language, so don’t worry about speaking it perfectly. 

Instead, focus on how well you’re communicating your ideas and how easy it will be for them to understand you. Rather than burying your head in English grammar textbooks, concentrate on building your confidence so you can speak fluently and smoothly. “Fluently” doesn’t mean “grammatically perfect”—the truth is that few native English speakers have perfect grammar, so lean into your identity as a fluent non-native speaker.

Also, up until the day of your interview, try to listen to and speak as much English as you can with friends, colleagues, and even strangers so you’ll feel more confident using the language. Consuming as much industry-related content as possible, with a focus on audio-based materials, is also a superb way to immerse yourself in the type of English you’ll need for the interview while also bolstering your knowledge of your professional field.

To help you stand out from the crowd and reaffirm your enthusiasm for the job, send the interviewer a thank-you letter after the meeting. Not sure what to say? Use our professionally crafted templates, which you can easily personalize. 

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