So you’re looking for a job.
Searching for jobs is already stressful.
It’s even more nerve-wracking (stressful) when they finally call you up for an interview.
And once you’ve got the job interview, congratulations…
…but now you’ve got something else to worry about.
The job interview is English!
Time to panic!
How do I answer this?
What are they going to ask?
What do I say to really impress them and make them choose me?
OK, actually, it’s time to calm down and relax.
Almost everybody who ever goes for a job interview is a little bit afraid… after all, this opportunity could really change your life, forever!
Here are 8 questions that they will likely ask, along with answers to help you rock (do well on) your interview.
Instead of saying “goodbye” to your dream job, you can say “hello.”
8 Common English Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them Well
There is some great news when it comes to job interviews. It’s not all doom and gloom (bad). Most recruiters these days ask the interviewees (you) the same basic questions. So with a little preparation, you can speak very well at your interview.
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1. Tell me about yourself
After greeting, shaking hands and introducing yourself, the next thing that interviewers are probably going to ask you to do is to talk about yourself.
Now, this might seem easy for you – you’ve practiced it in your English class so much, but they don’t want to hear every single detail. Avoid saying something like: I was born in Beijing. I love playing the computer and surfing the net. or I have two sisters. They don’t want to know everything about you. They want to know about you and your career growth; they want to know about you related to the job you’re applying for.
Also, make sure you don’t use any informal slang or make any basic grammar mistakes.
I’ve been working as a junior chef at a small Italian restaurant for 2 years and my duties included assisting the head chef and preparing salads. I have always been interested in food and cooking which was why I chose to follow this career path. I studied at ******* college, where I gained my first level cooking diploma.
2. What are your strengths?
When your interviewer asks you this question, they want to know all your positive qualities. These positive qualities need to relate to what they want and are looking for.
So before you head into your interview, make sure you do your research as to what kind of person suits this job, especially if you’re a newbie (new) and entering the workforce for the first time. Treat this question as a chance to advertise yourself – you are the product, now market yourself. The thing to remember here is not to just list a number of adjectives (anyone can do this). Instead, use examples to support your point.
For example, you could answer with any of the following:
To be punctual – to be on time.
I’m a punctual person. I always arrive early and complete my work on time. My previous job had a lot of deadlines (time when you must finish something by) and I made sure that I was organized and adhered to (respected) all my jobs.
To be a team-player – to work well with others.I consider myself to be a team-player. I like to work with other people and I find that it’s much easier to achieve something when everyone works together and communicates well.
To be ambitious – to have goals.I’m ambitious. I have always set myself goals and it motivates me to work hard. I have achieved my goals so far with my training, education and work experience and now I am looking for ways to improve myself and grow.
To take initiative – to do something without having to be told to do it.When I work, I always take initiative. If I see something that needs doing, I don’t wait for instruction, I do it. I believe that to be get anywhere in life, you need this quality.
To be proactive – To do things and make them happen.I’m proactive. When I think about things, I do them. I like to see results and it’s important in this industry to be proactive and responsible for your own actions.
To keep your cool – To stay calm in all kinds of situations.I think it’s really important to be able to stay calm when you’re working as a reporter. It can get really stressful, but one of my greatest qualities is that I can keep my cool and I don’t allow the pressure to get to me, which helps me achieve all my goals and remain focused. Here are a number of other words that can help you answer this question:
|Focused (Adj)||To concentrate well||Confident (adj)||Not shy|
|Problem-solver (N)||Can find answers to problems easily||Team building skills (N)||You’re able to take the lead and be the leader of the group.|
|Negotiate (V)||To be able to get a better deal that is favorable to you||To have a good work ethic (V)||To work hard, follow the rules and respect your duties of the job.|
REMEMBER: It’s really important that you give good, solid answers and back them up with evidence otherwise it’s just going to sound like you’ve memorized what you’re saying. Some companies won’t directly ask you what your strengths are, they could ask the same thing, but using different words, such as:
- Why do you think we should hire you?
- Why do you think you’re the best person for this job?
- What can you offer us?
- What makes you a good fit for our company?
3. What are your weaknesses?
What? I don’t have any weaknesses! Of course you do – no one’s perfect. Everyone has weaknesses, but what they’re checking for here is how you try to fix your weaknesses and they also want to know how self-aware (how much you know about yourself) you are.
Another trick here is to turn those weaker qualities into positive qualities. For example, your weakness is that you spend too much time on projects which makes you work slower. Turn that into a positive by saying: I sometimes am slower in completing my tasks compared to others because I really want to get things right. I will double or sometimes triple-check documents and files to make sure everything is accurate (correct).
Another great trick is to talk about a weakness (like being disorganized) and mention some methods that you are using to help overcome this: e.g. I have created a time-management system, which allows me to list all my duties and organize my deadlines so I have a clearer idea of what I need to do.
4. Why did you leave your last job?
If you’re applying for your first job, this question is not for you.
However, if you’ve worked before, the interviewer wants to find out why you left your old job. Did you leave because you were fired? (Your old boss asked you to leave for doing something wrong). Did you quit? (Resign – Did you choose to stop working?) Or were you laid off? (Made redundant – no longer needed because the job is no longer available?)
If you chose to leave your old job, avoid saying anything negative about your old workplace or boss (even if this is true). The person or people interviewing you will just look at you in a negative way. You can say the following:
- I’m looking for new challenges.
- I feel I wasn’t able to show my talents.
- I’m looking for a job that suits my qualifications.
- I’m looking for a job where I can grow with the company.
5. Tell us about your education
Here they want to know everything you’ve studied related to the job. For example your training and further education (e.g. university, polytechnic, college). You don’t need to tell them everything you’ve done since elementary school, just the important things.
Your: Degrees – 3-4 year qualification from university/college.
Diploma – A short-term qualification (e.g. 1 year) from college/university/polytechnic.
Certificate – A piece of paper showing your participation in a course. NB: Make sure you take all the necessary documents with you, as they may need proof!
If they ask you the question: tell us about your scholastic record, they want to know what kind of grades you received.
6. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Here, they are asking about your goals. Again, it’s related to your career, not your personal life. So if having a family is on the list, don’t mention it. Be careful what you say here, you need to be ambitious, but NOT too ambitious as those interviewing you may see you as a threat (competition). You can mention: By then I will have…I would have liked to…
- Improved my skills
- Created more of a name for myself in the industry (become more known for what you do).
- Become more independent in what I do and productive (doing more).
- Enhanced (improved) my knowledge.
- Achieved a higher position.
- Become a team leader…
7. What kind of salary do you expect?
Here, they are asking you about how much money you would expect to earn from the job. Be reasonable. Make sure you do your research on the internet about what the average salary is. Do not say I don’t know, it makes you sound unsure. Be confident and name your price without selling yourself too short (going for less) or going too high. The truth of the matter is, they already have a salary in mind, but this is their way of checking if you know the industry and if you’re aware of your own skills.
8. Do you have any questions for me/us?
Yes, you do! This is how an interviewer will usually finish the interview. They are not just being polite – they want you to speak.
Remember, they’re still judging you as you answer this question. So don’t ask anything that will make you sound silly, such as what kind of work does your company do? Or how much vacation time do I get each year? You want to find out more, and if you don’t ask any questions, then they may view this as you being not very interested in the job. Ask questions like:
- Do you have any examples of projects that I would be working on if I were to be offered the job? This shows that you’re interested in the actual job and not just being employed.
- What is the typical day for this position (job)? Find out what kind of duties are involved and what kind of things you would be expected to do on a day-to-day basis.
- Does the company offer in-house training to staff? This shows your interest in not only getting the job, but also wanting to improve and grow.
- What is the next step? Here, this is a way of asking what is next in the interview process. They will tell you how many days it will take to make their decision and will inform you if you need to come back for a second interview.
Job interviews don’t have to be scary. Remember first impressions count, think before you speak, and show your great English skills and give awesome answers to win that job. GOOD LUCK!
Oh, and One More Thing…
If you like learning real-world English, you should also check out the FluentU app. Like the website, the FluentU app lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.
The FluentU app makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.
For example, when you tap on the word “brought,” you see this:
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Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
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At the end of the interview, you have the opportunity to make a closing statement. Those are the last words you will utter before you leave the office, so make them count. Since there is no definitive way to close an interview, below are some options for you to consider.
Summary Close. Provide the interviewer with a synopsis of your experience. Remember that competency-based interviews are rooted in details, so bring them up again. For example, "As a quality-focused IT professional with more than ten years of experience as a systems technician and software/hardware support specialist, I have demonstrated a proven ability to create and deliver solutions that meet corporate objectives tied to business and technology performance. I am skilled in proactively identifying and resolving critical systems/network issues that will benefit the IT department. As such, I hold a sincere interest in joining your team."
Direct Close. If you want the job, then ask for it. For example, "Thank you for taking the time to interview me today. Based on our conversation, my background is a perfect fit with the job requirements we discussed. Given that, I am interested in joining your team."
Balance Sheet Close.Remind the interviewer of the core competencies that were stressed during the interview and how your background is a natural fit. For example, "This interview has been informative. From our discussion, it is evident that the position requires an accounting representative with experience in processing payroll, quarterly payroll returns, and general ledger account reconciliation. As I demonstrated, I have the know-how in each category to begin working with little or no training. When can I expect to hear from you?"
Compliment Close. Summarize the aspects of the position and/or company that intrigue you. For example, "Over the years, your organization has been the leader in laser technology. The new strides and the direction your organization is taking demonstrate a strong commitment to the field. Since I take my career seriously and have strived to be the best I can be, I would like to join your team."
Standing-Room-Only Close. If you received an offer from another company before you went to the interview, let the interviewer know. For example, "I received a job offer yesterday and decided to interview today because your organization piqued my interest. After today's meeting, I am glad I made the decision to interview with you. This position is my first choice. When do you expect to make a hiring decision? The other employer is expecting my response by the end of the week."
Testimonial Close. Add a compliment that you received from a customer, management, or business associate. For example, "At my last performance review, my supervisor indicated that I have superior client support skills. She noted that I successfully met the company's expectations when managing hundreds of support calls per day under strict time constraints and guidelines. I would like to bring my experience to work for your department."
Trial Close. Offer to demonstrate your ability to perform the tasks. For example, "If it would make the decision easier, I would like to work on a trial basis to demonstrate the event planning skills I have honed over the years. You will find that my ability to manage details and execute plans and promotions will compliment your department's needs. How about I participate in an audition interview where you hire me on a probationary period so you can see me in action before you make a final decision?" Chances are, interviewers will put emphasis on the last words you shared, so choosing a closing statement that fits your personality, the position, and the interviewer's expectations will leave a lasting impression.
There's much more to the close of a competency-based interview than simply shaking hands and saying good-bye. The end of the interview gives you one last chance to make a strong impression, to summarize why you are the right person for the job, and to correct any misconceptions that may have cropped up. You can also find out what to expect next.
Excerpted from 201 KNOCKOUT ANSWERS TO TOUGH INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: The Ultimate Guide to Handling the New Competency-Based Interview Style, by Linda Matias. Copyright © 2009 Linda Matias. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission. All rights reserved. http://www.amacombooks.org.
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