3 Job Interview Tips For Non-Native English Speakers

Last Updated on February 1, 2022 by Estrella

Interview tips for ESL learners
Interview tips for ESL learners. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

If you are new to the U.S. and getting ready for a job interview in Seattle, you may feel a bit nervous, especially if you are a non-native English speaker. Interviews may be similar in your culture; maybe not. I heard that in some countries, other selection methods are used besides interviews. So if you are relatively new to this process, here are some interview tips for ESL learners that will help you feel more confident about the experience.

Interview tips for ESL learners

Attitude as an interviewee

This first tip has to do with attitude. Even though you feel you “need” this job, remember that the company also “needs” someone for the position. It is a 2-way street. If you were the company, wouldn’t you want the right person to fill it? If you feel you will do well in this position, you are doing the company a favor by letting them know how they will benefit from having you on their team.

Interview is really a time to find out if you are the right fit for each other. That’s all it is. Get information from each other to help you make that decision. You also want to know if this position, this company, is right for your work style, your personality, your job satisfaction. Although the people who interview you may not be the ones you work with, observing interactions of the people who work there will give you an idea of the company atmosphere.

You are an equal in the interview. It’s not about the interviewers evaluating you. It’s about you evaluating the company too. How will the company benefit from having you on its team? What will you gain from working with this company? Learning opportunities? A happy place to work?

Now that you know an interview is a time to find out if you are a good match for each other, let’s move on to another tip.

Have an enjoyable conversation

Is it possible to enjoy yourself at an interview? Definitely! Intend to have a good time at your interview. How often do you get to talk about your accomplishment and abilities in front of people who WANT to know? Who NEED to know? This is one place where you can do it AND expected to do so. Imagine how good it feels to think over your past accomplishment and tell others how past employers have benefitted from your work.

And a side effect of enjoying your conversation is that you will naturally relax, which will take care of your nervousness. Have you noticed that when you are relaxed, you can deal with a situation much better than when you feel stressed? This relaxed state will help you have a more productive dialogue with the interviewers. It also allows you to observe the environment better, and pick up signals if this is the right workplace for you.

Talking about your accomplishment

This can be an uncomfortable area for some cultures. It may be perceived as bragging in your culture if you talk about your accomplishment. Think of it this way. You are sharing relevant information to help the interviewers select the most suitable team member. If you have done such and such, and it matches what they are looking for, let them know. And if you helped to save the department money, tell them how much. Yes, an actual dollar amount. Or you developed a program that saved co-workers time, let them know how many hours a week you saved the company.

Information like this is VERY relevant in this kind of meeting.

Socially, you probably would not talk like this, but this is not a social get-together. This is a time designated to find out if working in this company is a good match for both you and the employer.

If you really feel uncomfortable talking about your accomplishment, practice with someone you feel comfortable with before the interview. Repeat until you can talk about your good work WITHOUT lowering your voice (which may be a common way to convey humility in some cultures.)

So, these are a few tips that will help you feel more confident before you go to the interview. Keep in mind that this is not a test. Both you and the interviewer want to find out if the job and you are a match. That’s all it is.

And enjoy your conversation. These could be your future co-workers.

If you find this article helpful, here is one on learning discussion skills, which is a skill that can help you advance in your career.

If you think of aspects about an interview that you would like me to address, please send me an email at estrellachan@gmail.com

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email estrellachan@gmail.com

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