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How to Have a Successful Job Interview in English

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Are you getting ready to interview for your dream engineering or technical job, but fear your English speaking skills will hold you back? No matter how advanced your English is, there are steps you can take to make sure the interview goes as smoothly as possible. 

Practice Commonly Asked Job Interview Questions:

The first thing you’ll want to do is practice answering commonly-asked interview questions in English. According to Forbes, these include:

“Tell me a little about yourself”
Many interviewers see this question as a way to gauge how well your background matches the job. Answer the question by focusing on how your past experience has prepared you for the career you’ve chosen and the specific position for which you are applying.

“What is your biggest weakness?” 
The interviewer wants to see if you are someone who has self-awareness, so be sure to answer truthfully. Avoid cliche answers like “I’m a perfectionist,” “I work too much,” “I bring my work home,” and “I try to please people too much.” Instead, focus on a small weakness you have and how you are working to fix it. 

“Why are you the best person for the job?” 
Chances are, most of the people who are competing against you for the position have similar technical skills to your own. Instead of solely telling the interviewer about all your technical skills, try to bring up some of your soft skills. These often overlooked skills could make you a better fit than your competitors. For example, this could be a good opportunity to bring up how your ability to speak a second language brings an added skill to the position.

“How do you handle conflict at work?”
Managers want people on their teams who are skillful at dealing with conflict. Answer the question by telling the interviewer about a time where you resolved a conflict with a former colleague with empathy and diplomacy. 

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” 
Your answer should emphasize a willingness to evolve within the organization in line with your long-term career goals and the long-term goals of the organization.

“What can we expect from you in your first 90 days?”
Your answer should reveal that you understand what is expected of you, what your responsibilities will be, as well as the short as well as long-term goals of the job. 

“Do you have any questions for me?”
This is your opportunity to ask the interviewer any questions you have about the position. Your question should reveal you are excited and ready for the job. It should also convey that you have insight into the organization’s culture. 

Practice Commonly-asked Engineering Interview Questions

These questions are going to vary depending on the type of engineering job, so you’ll have to do some research. However, there are some common engineering questions you can expect, according to Indeed.com. Some of these include:

“How do you feel about constructive criticism?”
“In your opinion, what makes a great engineer?”
“What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced as an engineer?”
“What resources do you use to keep up with the newest engineering technology and developments?”

Practice How You Will Answer These Questions in English in Advance

Once you’ve determined what questions you should prepare for, you’ll want to practice answering them in English. Be sure to brush up on proper English vocabulary, tenses, and colloquialisms (The latter  will vary depending on the country.) If you struggle with English tenses, sticking with past tense will help you sound consistent, and the interviewer is unlikely to notice. 

As discussed in a previous post, there are plenty of ways to get better at speaking English, including watching television and film in English and listening to podcasts, using apps that teach English as a second language, and playing board games

Roleplay the Interview with a Family Member or Friend

The best way to practice for your interview is to role play with a friend or family member who is fluent in English. This way, they can point out any errors in order to help you improve prior to the interview. Another great way to prepare is to record yourself answering questions in English. This might be uncomfortable, but going back and hearing yourself is a great way to get better. 

If you’re a non-native speaker, going on a job interview in English can be stressful. However, taking these proactive steps will reduce your anxiety and give you the extra confidence you need. 

Improve Your Technical English

Enable technical professionals whose first language is not English to improve their language skills in a way that fits the needs and priorities of working adults in technical fields. 

Now available on IEEE Xplore and the IEEE Learning Network, IEEE English for Technical Professionals is an online learning program that uses real-life interactive scenarios to provide non-native speakers with a working knowledge of English techniques and vocabulary that are essential for today’s technical workplace. Designed to help learners master essential English skills, this mobile-friendly program is ideal for both working professionals, as well as students who are preparing to enter the field. 

Connect with an IEEE Content Specialist today to learn more about this program and how to get access to it for your organization.

Interested in the program for yourself? Visit the IEEE Learning Network.

You can also watch the free IEEE virtual event, Technical English: Strategies to Improve Workplace and School Success.

Resources

Stahl, Ashley. (10 December 2020). How To Answer The 7 Most Important Job Interview Questions. Forbes.

(4 December 2020). 40 Engineering Interview Questions to Help You Prepare (With Example Answers). Indeed.com. 

Stump & Associates. Ace the job interview (even if you’re not fluent in English). usvisagroup.com

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