3 simple hacks for successful job interviews

It was Christmas Eve 1998. My first-ever job interview in English was supposed to take place in an hour, and I was very nervous.


How was I going to manage a job interview in English on the telephone?

With no internet and no way to research the company, there was nothing I could do to prepare.

I still remember how I answered the first few questions; mainly with ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Sometimes I didn’t even understand some key vocabulary and replied hoping it was the right answer.


Anyway, I managed somehow and got the job. Interviewing can be scary but nowadays with the help of the internet, you can research and plan ahead much better.


Back then, I had no experience at all. Later, I went on to have many more interviews-in English. I also work with HR managers so that -- I know both sides of job interviews. And now I'd like to share 3 simple changes that would have made my first interview so much easier. So that you can go into your first interview with as much confidence as possible. Here are the 3 most important lessons I have learned:


#1.   Make sure you know as much as possible about your potential employer and the job on offer. 


When you are researching the company, look for key mission statements, products and services, company organization etc. on the company’s website.

What strikes you as important here? 

Maybe you have some questions about the information you get on the website. You could plan to ask them at the interview because it’s important to ask questions about the job and the company. Good questions show you've done your homework and are willing to learn about the company... And maybe you want to know how the company is organized. Is it a very hierarchical organization or a more flat structure? Surely the industries you are going to work in have their hierarchies but 

there are also small differences between the different companies within the industries. Arriving at your interview with a working knowledge of the company shows that you are truly interested and engaged.


As you are doing this research, try to answer one really important question:

What makes you the perfect candidate for this job?

In other words: what do you, your career history and the job you are applying for in common?

Maybe you have worked in the industrie before or with a similar product.

Or you are a brilliant HR manager and are looking for a new challenge in a different field. 

That brings me to the next point which is about… you.


#2. Make sure you know how to talk about your professional experiences


Here it is crucial that you can describe your job as well as the tasks you usually complete, and your key responsibilities. 

You also need to be aware of your skills and transferable skills. That means skills that you might need to use in your new job. If you are not sure what your key skills are ask a friend or colleague about them. You don’t need to be able to describe every single task for every job you’ve ever had. But you should be able to speak freely about your career history and your most important tasks in every single job on your CV.


What if you only end up talking about your current job in detail in the interview? It's far better to be prepared to talk about your past positions, and not need to than to get stuck in the middle of your interview in English. Nevertheless, it is better to be prepared.


#3. Be sure you can answer these important questions about yourself. 


You'll want to be able to smoothly…


  • present anything that's on your CV.  
  • talk about your skills
  • explain why you've changed jobs in the past
  • talk about your future goals in the job you’re applying for and your career. 
  • talk about your career and why you changed jobs or took different turns in your career. In case you have any gaps in your CV make sure you know how to explain them.  



Here’s an expert tip:


Your new boss might be present in the interview. Imagine you'd like to make your career in the company where you're applying and would love to become the new line manager next. 

Just don't say that directly when your next boss is in the room.


Otherwise, you might not get the job because your new boss isn’t keen on hiring his competition.

It’s important to have a smart, tactful response ready because the question: ‘Where would you like to be in your job five years from now?’, is one a lot of HR managers really like.


Prepare for the interview and some tricky questions such as:


  • ‘What did you like in your job last boss?’ 
  • ’What did you not like in him?’
  • ’How would your colleagues describe you?’


They are a little challenging and your answer needs to be truly diplomatic.


One final secret for a successful interview.


Role-play the interview a couple of times with your partner or friend - ideally in English. Because you certainly need to get out of your comfort zone in a job interview. Most certainly you will also encounter some tricky questions. When you feel comfortable in the interview situation ahead of time then it is not so challenging to answer tricky questions.


And don’t forget to enjoy the interview and be as authentic as possible in the situation.


Ready to try this in the real world?


What is your experience with job interviews in English? 

Let me know in the comments section.👇


Want to take this a step further?

If you need help with this challenge you might want to work with a coach. Please feel free to get in touch.


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What is crucial in communication with native English speakers? Find out more here.


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