How to prepare for an English interview

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For some time now, I’ve been looking for work abroad. And thanks to some contacts, I’ve received some offer. The problem is when you’ve never done any interviews in English… in my case, I have the FCE, but it is clear that I’m not fluent (due to a lack of practice), and nerves can make you forget things you know how to say.

In this post I will give you some tips to help you be ready in the event that you get called in for an interview one day or another. I will use an offer for Technical Support from Alcon in Switzerland as an example.

  1. First of all, know everything about the job offer. It’s horrible if the interviewer asks you why you applied and you don’t remember what the job is or what requirements they have for it. You also need to highlight all the relevant skills you have for that offer.
  2. Google and research company information, products and services. Another question they’re going to ask is if you know the company, which is why it’s good for them to see that you know what the business is (e.g.: Alcon.com). Even if it is a multinational company with several divisions, the more information you have, the better prepared you will appear to be. It also helps to search Wikipedia to see if there is some company history or information you can “drop” in the interview. Let them see you are involved and informed before coming in.
  3. If you have time, study English. Maybe it’s not necessary to mention this, but you have to study so (at least) you don’t make any serious mistakes because you’re in a rush or nervous. There are free pages with exercises, sound clips, vocabulary, etc. at the always recommended: MansiondelIngles.com. Revision is better than having to learn again from scratch.
  4. Get your ear used to it. This is the most important one, because you may already speak English but the problem will appear when you start speaking and have to understand what they tell you (especially if they’re English). That is, podcasts or audio classes. If you download iTunes you can find dozens of audio courses in English to download for free to your computer or mp3 player. I recommend the following: ‘The English We Speak” (BBC),“English as a Second Language” or “Business English Pod”.
  5. Prepare the speech. Like a politician. Since you already know the company, you have read the offer and you know what they are going to ask… write an essay with everything you will say about yourself or the possible answers, such as: “I entered the previous company that year… I’ve worked as this and that… my roles were these and those… I have experience in I-don’t-know-what … I believe my skills or what I can contribute are as follows… blah, blah, blah “. It is always the same (with a few exceptions), so you can prevent possible screw-ups when it comes to expressing yourself and not forget to mention something about you that they should know. If you are prepared with the questions and what you’ll give for an answer, you’ll be more confident and speak more fluently, and you won’t mess up unexpectedly.
  6. Practice the conversation. Supposedly the hardest part of them all. If you have some time and an acquaintance who speaks a little English, prepare a script with possible questions and answer them with your preprepared “speech”. By doing this you can improve your pronunciation and you will notice possible problems.

That’s all I’ve got: the rest depends on the offer apply for and your skills or experience. If you already speak English well, all this won’t help you out that much!

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