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Job interview in another language

Job interview in another language

The final barrier to interviewing for a job abroad is speaking the interviewers’ language. This can come more easily to some than others. However, it is always a daunting prospect when you have to interview in anything other than your native tongue.

Tips for an interview in a foreign language

Prepare to speak in another language

To successfully overcome the interview process in another language, you must practice your foreign language skills. The best way to prepare is to learn specific interview vocabulary. Through this, if you get completely stuck, you can always think of a little phrase or word to get you out of an awkward situation! Being able to speak in a different language without stopping too many times or tripping over your words will help you gain employment.

It is also recommended to learn your CV and cover letter in the other language so that you have a range of useful information to pick from.

Proficiency in the foreign language

Try to let the interviewer know how proficient you are, i.e. how advanced you are at that particular second language, at the start of the interview. The interviewer will therefore be able to ask you questions that are suitable for your level; even if he thinks you are worse than you are, you can show off in your replies to these simpler questions. Much better to have that than receive several questions that you do not understand!

Listening to another language in a job interview

The number one fear of interviewing in another language is generally listening to a question and not understanding it. To overcome this you should do three things:

  • Firstly, try to pick up on any key words and use your common sense to understand what the question is asking of you. If you still don’t understand the question but think you know the general meaning, you can then use questions such as, “you would like to know about …, right?”
  • Secondly, you should not be afraid to ask the interviewer to slow down. Better to have the interviewer slow down and you understand the question, than to start giving a detailed answer to a question that was never asked!
  • Thirdly, ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you are at all in doubt over its meaning. If you think about an interview in your native tongue, it is commonplace to ask someone to repeat a question if you have misheard or do not understand. The same applies for interviewing in another language.

Speed in another language

Many people think talking very fast will make them seem fluent in the foreign language. Although this can be true, it is much better to talk slowly and calmly, so you can get your ideas across in a clear and easily understood way.

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