How to nail a job interview in English?

After taking an English course abroad the goal for many of our students is get a job in their dreamed destination. Following this complete manual you will learn how to ace your first job interview in English.

Looking for a job is stressful. It is event more nerve-racking when the interview is in other language. Your skills are been improved after the language course, but you are still insecure to do your best in the interview. Don’t worry! Almost everybody who ever goes to an interview is a little bit nervous, after all it is an opportunity that can change your life forever!

With this article we will prepare yourself for the job interview, we will cover some important topics to keep in mind before the interview and some common questions to be prepared in advance. We will also give you some tips with good and bad answers to use during the interview.

 Before the job interview.

Well done! Great news, you applied for a job and now you are getting ready for the important interview.

  1. Get to know more about the company.

It is one of the best things to ace your job interview. Find out online everything about them, check their Facebook, Instagram… everything, so you would be able to ask some relevant questions during the interview.

  1. Know the description of the role you applied for.

This is a must. You have to study the job description and understand what the interviewer is looking for. Read carefully the duties, the skills needed and experience required. Knowing this you can help you drive the interview and discuss examples from your previous jobs. Do this for all significant requirements on the job description. This is the best way to nail your job interview.

  1. Study your CV and memorised everything well.

You should know your CV as the back of your hand. Applying this strategy will definitely help you to answer the questions. You have to convince the interviewer that you can do the job as anybody else. Talk clear and intelligently about your previous jobs is one of the best ways to make a good impression during the interview.

  1. Examples, examples and more examples.

Speak about your skills with concrete examples. The interviewer wants to know that you are the right person for the position, but it will be hard to believe it unless you prove it. Prepare some stories about how you solved similar problems in the past. Don’t leave anything to the imagination of the interviewer, instead explain in detail and give some examples to illustrate your capacities.

  1. Pack your “interview gear”.

Dress smart, get a nice haircut and cut well your nails. Make several copies of your resume, print out the directions to the office, and pack some pens and a note pad.  Put the CVs in a plastic folder in the front of your bag.

  1. Create a good setting with the interviewer.

“There is never a second chance to get a first impression.” And it’s true.  You will make a great setting for your interviewer with a firm handshake and a pleasant smile. You can also start by asking how he or she is doing, make a compliment about the good looking of the offices or the good location of the building. Keep an eye contact. Direct eye contact shows confidence and self-esteem. It is very important to keep eye contact when you greet the interviewer and shake his/her hand.

  1. Body language.

The body language is the most important form of nonverbal communication during the interview. You must show positive energy and body language. Sit up straight and don’t slouch your back. Show that you are listening carefully to everything your interviewer is talking about.

  1. Be yourself.

Never try too hard to be what you “think” the job requires. If you aren’t being true to yourself, the interviewer will notice your lack of authenticity immediately. Just let your true self shine and you will send off the positive energy you will need to nail the job interview.

  1. Follow up quickly.

Send an email immediate after the interview. Simply thank the interviewer for their time to meet you. It is important that you get to know yourself into the email.


Interview common questions & some good and bad answers.

  1. “Breaking the ice”.

The first question is normally a “breaking ice” type of question.

  • How are you today …. ?
  • What do you think about the weather lately?
  • Did you have any trouble finding the building?

The interviewer will be friendly, he or she will try to relax you, just answer the question without going into too much detail.

Good answer:I am fine thank you, and you?”, “I am well thank you”.

Bad answer:OK”, “Not so well”, “so,so…” , “Sorry I am late but I was finishing my lunch”, “The building is very far away from the tube station.”

  1. Tell me about yourself?.

The next thing that interviewers are probably going to ask you to do is to talk about yourself. It might seem easy, you have been practising in your English course, but they don’t to hear every single detail about you. They just want to know about you and your career, they need to know if you are the right person for the role.

Good answer: “I have been working as a junior accountant at a small retail company in my home country for one year and a half. My duties included reporting the financial accountant, prepare invoices to make monthly payment and allocate received payment to outstanding invoices.  I have always been interested in accountancy and I studied at …. University.”

Bad answer:I was born in Espoo, near Helsinki. I love meeting with my friends and playing hockey. I have an older sister that is living in London.”

  1. Speak about your strengths.

The interviewer want to know your positive qualities. Positive qualities that are related with the job. So remember the point number two of the things to do before the interview we have listed above. “Know the description of the role you applied for”.

Good answer:When I work, I always take initiative. If I see something that needs doing, I don’t wait for instruction, I do it. I believe that to be get anywhere in life, you need this quality.

Bad answer:My friends say that I am very stubborn.  I like always to be right, and I do not stop until the other person says that I am right”.

  1. What are your weaknesses?

Yes, it is an awkward question, but many interviewers ask this question to all the candidates. He or she is trying to find out how are you trying to fix your weaknesses or they also want to know how self-aware you are.  A good tip to answer this question is turn your weaker qualities into positive qualities.

 Good answer:Sometimes I am slower than others in completing a task since I want to make sure that everything is correct. I review everything two or three times in order to be sure that everything is fine”.  

Bad answer:I am extremely competitive. I must win in everything”. (Depending about the job you may think that this is a good answer but we recommend you to find out other answers that would give the interviewer a better picture of how good colleague you will be)

  1. Tell me about why did you leave your last job?

If you worked before the interviewer want to find out why you left your old job. Basically he or she want to know if you quitted.  (Did you resign? Did you decided to stop working) Or you got fired? (Your old boss told you to leave because you did something wrong). Where you redundant? (You were laid off because the job was no longer available).

Avoid saying anything bad or negative about your old workplace or your former boss. Even if it is true. The interviewer will see this as a negative way.

Good answer: “I’m looking for new challenges. I love London and I want to work and live here” , “I’m looking for a job that suits my qualifications”

Bad answer: “My old boss was horrible”, “I was working too much”, “I didn’t like it”, “They didn’t want me anymore there because I was always late” 

  1. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

The interviewer wants to know about your goals. Once again, it is related about your career not your personal life. Be careful answering this question, you need to be ambitious, but not TOO ambitious.

Good answer: “By then I would have become more independent in what I do and productive”, “I would have liked to improve my skills”

Bad answer: “I don’t know, 5 years are too many years”, “By then I would have a family and a big car”, “Hopefully in other company and earning more money” 

  1. What kind of salary do you expect?

Here they want to know how much money you would like to earn. Just be reasonable. Normally, in the UK, job offers have a range salary specified in the description, other times you need to research online about the average salary. Be confident and name your price without selling yourself too high or too less. They already have a salary in mind for this position and this is their way of checking if you know the industry and you are aware of your own abilities.

Good answer: “I’m sure whatever you offer will be a fair amount for a person with my qualifications. Salary is not the most important factor to me. I’m looking for an opportunity.”, “From the research that I have done, it appears to be in the £X–£Y range. Is that the range you had in mind?”

Bad answer: “The salary mentioned in the job description is too low, you better give me a better salary or I will not get this job” 

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

Of course you do! The interviewer is not finishing the interview here. He or she wants to talk more. If you don’t talk now the company will thing that you are not interested in the job.

Good answer: “how is a typical day in this position?”, “Do you have any examples of projects that I would be working on if I get this job”,

Bad answer: “When I can get holidays? I really want to go home in Easter and visit my parents”,”how much vacation time I get each year?”, “what kind of work does this company do?”

We hope this points will help you, and remember, present yourself professionally, take into consideration the company’s culture, and before the interview, don’t forget to explore yourself as a professional and understand your needs. The more you understand about you and your goals the more likely you will succeed in nailing your interview.  Good luck!

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SML team.

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SML_Suomi Kielimatkat

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