Do you have a job interview soon?
This checklist is written to help non-native English speakers interviewing in America or other English-speaking countries do well in their interview.
Important note: This article isn't intended to be a complete list for job interview preparation. I'm focusing on tips for non-native English speakers that should be used in addition to a more comprehensive list for all interviewers.
How to succeed at a job interview in English
Before the Interview
1. Learn about American interview style
Different countries have different interview styles. English-speaking countries and companies tend to use a similar style (American style).
2. Learn how to answer common interview questions
Part of interview style is the type of questions you'll be asked. English interviews tend to ask certain questions and you're expected to answer them in a certain way.
- Best length for answers
- Best structure for answers
- Most popular introductory question
- Behavioral or competency-based questions
- Field-related/technical questions
Write your answers down and then say them aloud in front of a mirror or video camera. If you both write and speak the answers you will know better how the answers sound and you can fine-tune them.
Do a mock (practice) interview with someone.
3. Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer
You need to have some questions to ask during and at the end of the interview.
It won't make you seem rude.
If you don't ask questions you'll seem passive and uninterested.
The questions shouldn't be about the hours or the salary or the vacation time because that will make you seem lazy.
4. Prepare for small talk
Small talk is important to English speakers, even in interviews.
If you aren't good at it, practice it just like you would practice your interview questions.
5. Evaluate your English
You've prepared for the questions and the small talk. How did you do? Were you able to say what you needed to say in English?
If not, you may need to do a quick intensive review of your English before you go for the interview. Get out your old English textbooks and study or work with a teacher for a short-term practice session.
You can't improve significantly in a few days or weeks but you can "warm up" your English and get last-minute coaching so you make fewer mistakes. Some of my clients schedule appointments the morning of their interview so they have some last-minute English practice.
6. Prepare your clothes
Don't put on a dark suit unless you work in an industry where everyone else wears suits too.
Your clothes should be appropriate for the job, the company, and the industry.
You may need to do research to consider the company culture if you aren't familiar with it.
The Day of the Interview
7. Don't put on cologne/aftershave/perfume and don't smoke
Strong scents and the smell of cigarette smoke are not popular these days.
8. Arrive about 10 minutes early, but no more
Being late isn't okay. We English-speakers care about time.
If you're late, phone the company.
9. Greet the receptionist or assistant politely
Once you walk in the building you're making an impression.
During the interview
10. Give a proper handshake
Women and men should shake hands with their interviewer.
Use a firm grip.
If you're not used to shaking hands when you greet someone, practice beforehand.
11. Be aware of your body language
12. Pay attention to your language
- Remember your English
- Avoid saying um, uh, like, you know, or using other filler words
13. Show your enthusiasm
Say that you're very interested in the job and then also ask about the next steps in the process if they haven't already told you.
14. Say thank you to the interviewer
Shake their hand if they offer theirs. Some people will want to shake again when saying good bye but some won't, so follow their lead.
From senior VP to entry-level candidates, my clients have nailed the interview and landed the job. Let's work together preparing for your interview and take your career to the next level. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.
Interview Genie is an interview prep company. I specialize in coaching non-native English speakers.