Job Interview Tips for Non-Native English Speakers

Speaking multiple languages can open the door to a lot of amazing job opportunities. For non-native English speakers, however, it also means that you will likely have to attend interviews conducted entirely in English. Acing an interview in your own language isn’t easy; doing so in a second language comes with even more challenges.

There’s no need to stress, though. Most interviewers will understand if and when a non-native English speaker makes one or two mistakes with grammar, pronunciation, or word choice.

However, you should always try to do your best. So you’ll want to do everything in your power to make a great first impression and minimize errors.

Before the Job Interview

So, as a non-native English speaker, what can you do to prepare for your next English job interview? Let’s look at a few interview tips and tricks for non-native English speakers!

Research the Company in Advance

You don’t need to become an expert on every company you apply to, but you should try to memorize some information before the interview.

For example, learn a few key facts, like the name of the CEO, how long the company has been in business, basic information about the company’s products or services, etc.

Mentioning this kind of information can help you seem like a diligent applicant who takes an active interest in the company.

Prepare an Introduction

Every job interview conversation in English requires some form of introduction. In most interviews, you might hear something like “tell me about yourself.”

This is your opportunity to give a summary of your credentials, accomplishments, and work history. Try to include information that may not be on your CV, like hobbies or brief personal anecdotes.

Familiarize Yourself with Common Interview Questions

While you can’t know the interview questions in advance, you can likely anticipate many of them. Most interviewers will ask variations of the most common interview questions, giving you a great opportunity to practice your answers beforehand.

Here are the 5 most common interview questions to get you started:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why did you leave your last job?

Focus on Relevant Vocabulary

One positive aspect of an English job interview is the relatively limited scope of the conversation.

In most interviews, you will simply need to talk about yourself, your education, your job history, your aspirations, and your abilities. Additionally, you will likely need to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the job for which you are applying.

This means that you can focus your energy on learning the correct meaning and pronunciation for job-specific and interview-related vocabulary.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

As we mentioned, the interviewer will probably ask you to talk about your strengths. Of course, you will need to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to answer this question. However, you will also want to focus on your positive traits and skills throughout the interview.

After all, you want to make a good impression and make yourself look good! For more tips on how to talk about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview, check out our last blog post).

Practice, Practice, Practice

Even if you feel confident about an upcoming job interview in English, you should still have a practice interview beforehand. If you have an English-speaking friend who can help, you should practice answering impromptu questions with them. Even practicing by yourself in the mirror is a great way to boost your confidence and find areas for improvement.

During the Job Interview

Now that you’ve prepared for the interview, the time has come to put your hard work to the test.

Here are a few interview tips and tricks to help you make a great impression during your next English interview:

Be an Active Listener

When you’re nervous about speaking English correctly in a job interview, it’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts. You want to use the right words, so you’re busy thinking about what to say next. This can cause you to miss something that the interviewer says.

You should always make a conscious effort to listen to each question or comment.

Even if you need a few additional seconds to formulate an answer, it is better than asking the interviewer to repeat themselves. Nonetheless, if you do miss something that they say, you should always ask for clarification. Don’t try to answer a question that you don’t know.

Be Positive

Even if you can’t pronounce every word perfectly, you should always remain positive throughout the interview. You will want to emphasize your relevant traits and skills, but you also want to sound positive with everything you say.

Remember, if you need to discuss “negative” information (why you were fired from a job, for example), you should not sound gloomy or sad. Instead, find a way to turn a negative event into something good.

Be Professional

While you should always sound positive, this does not mean that you should be overly friendly.

Sometimes excessive positivity can be too casual for a job interview (giggling, laughing, speaking loudly, etc). Here are a few tips for maintaining a diplomatic tone of voice in your next interview.

Be Prepared to Improvise

No matter how much you prepare for an interview, you will almost certainly need to improvise. Whether it’s a curveball question or a last-minute schedule change, you should always be ready to adapt.

Though you should have some kind of introduction prepared, don’t try to write or memorize an entire script for the whole interview, because it won’t work. Instead, you will need to practice answering questions “off the cuff.”

A Few Important Things to Remember…

  • Show up at least 10 minutes before the interview.
  • It’s ok to provide short answers to certain questions. (Ex. What’s your GPA? It’s 3.7.)
  • You don’t need to decorate your responses with complex vocabulary.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask relevant questions.
  • Don’t be afraid to make a follow-up call a few days after the interview.

English Job Interview Resources

Now that we’ve covered some job interview tips, it’s time for you to practice! Thankfully, there are a number of free interview resources for non-native English speakers. Using these resources should help you feel more confident when speaking English in your next interview:

We hope you found these interview tips and tricks helpful!

If you’d like to learn more about job interview techniques, visit Magoosh Speaking!

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Film and Philosophy from the University of Georgia. It was during his time in school that he published his first written work. After serving as a casting director in the Atlanta film industry for two years, Matthew acquired TEFL certification and began teaching English abroad. In 2017, Matthew started writing for dozens of different brands across various industries. During this time, Matthew also built an online following through his film blog. If you’d like to learn more about Matthew, you can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or his personal website!
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