“Interview anxiety” is even more prevalent among those who speak English as a second language. Since English is the international language of business, English interviews are more common in larger companies and multinational corporations.
It’s one thing to present your best self in your native language. It becomes a lot harder when you’re preoccupied with mispronunciations, grammatical mistakes, and figuring out how to talk during an interview in English.
Thankfully, you can practice ahead of time by answering some common English interview questions. In this guide, we’ll show you how to introduce yourself at the start of an interview and how you can answer these interview questions in English.
But first, let’s discuss one of the most important aspects of the interview process: the self-introduction.
How to Introduce Yourself During an English Interview
In your daily life, introductions are pretty simple. The words usually flow naturally because you don’t feel much pressure to get everything exactly right.
An English interview is a very different situation. You’ll want to make a great first impression since your introduction is one of the most important aspects of the entire process.
According to a recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, nearly 30% of interviewers make a decision about you within the first 5 minutes of the interview. Over 50% make their decision between 5-15 minutes into the meeting.
So how should you introduce yourself? What can you do to make a stellar first impression at the start of your English interview conversation?
Before you do anything else, just breathe. Introductions don’t need to be overly complicated. You just want to come across as confident and competent. Keep your introduction simple, direct, and friendly.
That being said, once you get beyond the “hello” and “how are you,” things may feel tricky. Your interviewer may want to start with some small talk, or they might get right down to business. In either case, you will likely get some variation of the same prompt: Tell me about yourself.
Your answer to this question may set the tone for how the rest of the interview conversation goes. In most English interviews, you’ll want to act friendly and professional at the same time.
Here are a few statements to give you an idea of how to talk in this situation:
- I’m really excited to be here.
- Thank you for seeing me today.
- I’m having a great day so far. How’s your day going?
- I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today.
Some interviewers need to talk to dozens of people in a day and simply don’t have time for small talk. Nonetheless, they will likely still prompt you to introduce yourself at the beginning. In most cases, you should keep it short and sweet.
Tell me about yourself…
This dreaded statement leaves a lot of native and non-native English speakers stuck. How should you respond? You will want to talk for about 1-2 minutes. Any shorter answer might be inadequate, and any longer one might feel tedious and unnecessary.
Your answer will ultimately depend on your personality, skills, experiences, and the job you’re trying to get. You’ll want to use this opportunity to emphasize your strengths.
Make sure to research the position and company before your English interview so you can tailor your answer to match what they’re looking for.
Here are a few things that the interviewer will likely want to hear about:
- Job history
- Important life experiences
- Formal training or technical skills (if applicable)
- General interests
Your interviewer has probably already read through your resume. This means that they will have some basic information about your job history and education. You shouldn’t simply repeat what they already know. Instead, add interesting details that make you stand out.
You can practice saying your introduction out loud so that it will come out smoothly during your English interview.
Here are a few sample answers:
To begin, I’m 26 years old. I first became interested in computer programming in high school. By the time I got to Stanford University, I already had a firm understanding of C++ and Java. I really love writing code, so it was easy for me to choose my major. In college, I practiced for the tennis team. I think if I didn’t enjoy programming so much, I might have pursued a career in tennis.
Anyways, after I graduated, I got my first job as a web developer for a small start-up based in my city. It was a great experience. The team became very close and worked well together. Unfortunately, after about 2 years, the owner lost his funding, which meant that I was out of a job. So now I’m looking for a similar position that provides a bit more stability in the long-term.
Well, as you probably know, I graduated from a technical school with an Associate’s Degree in HVACR Technology. My father repaired A/C units his entire life and he loved his job. In high school, I started shadowing him while he worked, picking up bits of knowledge here and there.
Once I got to college, I knew that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. While I may not have any formal A/C repair experience on my resume, I’ve had years of experience with my dad, in addition to my degree.
If you still need more help crafting the perfect introduction, here is a five-part English interview video tutorial series with some useful tips and examples!
Five Common Job Interview Questions in English
Now, let’s talk about how to answer the remaining questions effectively in English so that you can land your dream job.
Though every interview will be different, you should anticipate some common questions. So, here are the five most common English interview questions and answers.
What are your strengths?
Interviewers will likely want to hear about both your strengths and weaknesses. Talking about your strengths (i.e., your best qualities and skills) is your chance to really show what you’re good at and why they should hire you.
Answering this interview question honestly can demonstrate both your job-related skills and your unique personality.
- I’m always a team player.
- I think one of my greatest strengths is my ability to troubleshoot problems effectively.
- No matter what, I always work until the job is done.
What are your weaknesses?
While most people want to know what you can do, they also want to keep an eye open for what you can’t do.
This is one of the trickier questions in an English interview. It should be answered very carefully. You want to be honest about your own limitations and shortcomings, but you don’t want to make yourself look bad.
In addition to the sample answers below, here are some helpful tips for discussing your weaknesses during an English interview.
- Sometimes I let criticism get under my skin. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so getting things right is very important to me. The best way to criticize me is to use constructive criticism and focus on what specific steps I can undertake in order to improve.
- It can be difficult for me to leave my work at the office, which can end up having a negative effect on my personal life when I’m not careful.
- In group settings, I prefer to take on leadership roles, which can cause discord if someone else wants to do the same.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Most potential employers want to see how long potential employees will stay at the company if hired. They also want to know what kind of career and professional plans you’ve made.
- Ideally, If I’m chosen for this position, I’d like to see myself having more of a leadership role in company projects.
- I am ambitious and my career is one of the most important aspects of my life, so I’d like to put my work ethic to good use in a managerial position that really fits my skill set.
- I love working in this field, and I would be really happy to continue at my current level for the foreseeable future. That being said, in 5 or 10 years, I might like to take on more managerial responsibilities.
Why should we hire you?
While this English interview question may feel similar to “what are your strengths,” it requires a more nuanced answer. Ultimately, interviewers want to know exactly why you are better than the other candidates. You will need to provide proof that you deserve to be hired.
- At the end of the day, I put my best foot forward with everything I do. I have had similar jobs in the past, so I know what I’m doing. I never give it less than 100%.
- I have a genuine passion for the work and I know how to get the job done right. In the past, I’ve successfully overseen dozens of projects from start to finish.
- I bring a lot of creativity to every project that I manage. I always think outside the box, while also keeping an eye on the long-term goals.
Still not sure how to answer this question? You can find more examples of good and bad responses to English interview questions in our blog.
Why did you leave your last job? (Or “Why are you leaving your current job?”)
If you got fired for failing to do your job or being a problematic employee, your interviewer will want to know about it. This is another situation where you should try to paint yourself in a positive light without lying. After all, your interviewer will likely be able to fact-check your story.
- There were not a lot of advancement opportunities at my previous position. I learned a lot and gained useful experience, but ultimately I’d like to work somewhere that will help me advance my career.
- Honestly, the pay did not match the workload. I am more than happy to put in overtime when needed, but I also expect to be compensated fairly.
- I never felt challenged in my last job. It wasn’t an entry-level position, but sometimes it felt like my skills were never put to good use.
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