Finding a job when you are studying English as a second language may seem intimidating. However Drew’s ESL Fluency Lessons has created a job interview script to help prepare you for using language basics in real-life scenarios when you are looking for a job. The following terms are among the most commonly-used expressions you might hear during, or while preparing for, a job interview:
Company Owner: Hello Mr. Smith. I assume you are here about the job opening. Did you bring your resume?
Applicant: Yes sir. I did bring it and I can leave a copy with you. You will see that I have a lot of on the job experience selling software. I have over ten years of experience in this field and I think you will like what my references have to say about me.
Company Owner: Well, you sure seem to have a lot of confidence. I like that in a prospective employee. Why did you leave your last job?
Applicant: That’s a good question and I’d be happy to answer it. I decided to leave the last company I worked for because there was no room for growth. Last year I was passed over for a promotion to sales manager. The boss’s son-in-law got the job. Everyone knew I was the better fit for the job.
Company Owner: The position we are looking to fill is a sales position similar to the one you just left. Do you feel you are overqualified for this job?
Applicant: No sir. I did my research and your company is larger than my previous employer. Your annual sales are three times that of my old company.
Company Owner: Yes. We have increased business significantly in the last three years. Are you OK with cold calls? We do sometimes ask our sales people to do this on occasion.
Applicant: Yes. I will do anything it takes to get a sale. I am not above cold calls by any means.
Company Owner: Great. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you hear about this position?
Applicant: I went to a career fair last week in the civic center downtown. A little networking is always a good idea. I met one of your employees from HR there. That’s where I got the lead on this job.
Company Owner: I think you would be a huge asset to this company. I’d like to offer you the position. What do you think?
Applicant: That’s great sir. I will accept. You won’t be sorry. I’ll be setting sales records in this company in my first year!
Script your responses, but be prepared to interview without the aid of notes.
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Writing an interview script, or formulating appropriate responses to anticipated interview questions, gives you the opportunity to flesh out the dialogue you want to use during an interview. While writing an interview script is ideal for interview preparation, when it comes down to the live interview, you should be ready to go “off script.” Ideally, your goal should be to engage in conversation with an interviewer, employing prepared elements from your script without sounding canned or rehearsed.
Formulate a response to typical introductory interview questions. Regardless of the line of work you are in, most common interviews start off with an invitation to discuss your background, your education and your previous work experience. For your scripting purposes, write a brief introduction that explains where you are from, where you received your training or education and summarize your previous work experience with an emphasis on positions that relate to the role for which you are applying.
Write responses to interview questions that relate to what you consider to be your professional strengths and weaknesses. The strengths you choose to emphasize in your script should focus on your ability to manage your time, be detail-oriented and goal-focused, and to work independently as well as in a team environment. Never say you don’t have a weakness, as this can make you come across as arrogant. Rather, select a weakness that can easily be perceived as a strength, such as an aim for perfection or tendency to over-prepare presentations.
Anticipate questions that relate to your industry and to hypothetical issues you might encounter in the job you’re seeking. For example, if you are applying for a job in publishing, you can anticipate questions related to fact-checking, meeting deadlines and working with a multidisciplinary team in producing publications. Consider past experiences that demonstrate your ability to troubleshoot problems, come up with innovative solutions and act quickly in ways that benefit your employer. Script answers to questions that ask you to elaborate on these areas.
Write a series of questions that are appropriate to ask the hiring manager as part of the interview process. For example, you may wish to ask for additional details about the job, inquire about how you will be evaluated, what the employer’s expectations are for the position and what immediate tasks you would be charged with if selected for the job.
Script a summary to utilize when the interview is drawing to a close. The summary should reiterate your interest in the position and inquire if the hiring manager needs additional information about your background or your experience. Thank the interviewer for her time at the end of your interview.
- Write a letter of thanks to the hiring manager or interview panel members immediately following your interview. Use the letter to reiterate your strengths and qualifications, and if necessary, expand on areas of your background or education you don’t believe you fully expressed during the interview.
About the Author
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey’s work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.
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Four Parts:Preparing for the InterviewArriving for the InterviewDuring the InterviewAfter the InterviewCommunity Q&A
Job interviews are nerve-wracking occasions. You are being judged on your ability to answer questions convincingly and clearly, as well as listen and process information. To have a great interview it’s important that you prepare well, are punctual and smart, speak clearly and articulately, and leave a strong positive impression on the interview panel. You can never entirely predict how an interview will pan out, but by being prepared and thinking about your responses and the impression you want to make, you can give yourself the best shot at landing that job.
Part 1 Preparing for the Interview
- Call ahead to confirm your interview appointment.
Once you have received notification that you have been invited to interview for the position you should quickly confirm your attendance. This will normally be to somebody who works in Human Resources or recruitment. If you have received a letter or email asking you to interview, it will most likely include instructions on confirming your attendance and the contact details of the person to contact.
- You can do this via email, but it can be nice to call so you can have a brief chat and ask any immediate questions you might have.
- If you have any special requirements, such as disabled access, you should let them know as soon as possible.
- Research the company.
A crucial part of your interview preparation is thoroughly researching the organisation you are interviewing for. This is vital for a number of reasons, not least for demonstrating your enthusiasm and initiative to the interviewers. The level of research that is possible will vary massively depending on the company and the position you are applying for, but there are some common areas to research before the interview.
- What kind of organisation is it? Is it in the public or private sector, or is it a charity or voluntary organisation?
- What are the values and mission of the organisation?
- Who are the company’s clients and services?
- Has there been relevant news in the industry that you should be aware of?
- Read up on the competition.
- Be sure you know the format of the interview.
This information should have been communicated to you by the company when they invited you to interview, but be sure you completely understand the format and elements of the interview. Is it going to be a straight question and answer? Are you expected to give a presentation? Or, is there is test? If you are in any doubt, ask well in advance of the interview so you can prepare accordingly.
- If you know there is a presentation, ensure you know what sort of thing is expected. You should know roughly how long you are expected to speak for, what sort of format you should use and what you should cover.
- If you need any IT, such as a laptop and projector with Powerpoint, communicate this to the organisation as soon as possible so they can be prepared.
- Think about potential questions and answers.
Every interview will be different, and it’s impossible to entirely predict what questions you will be asked. But, with some thought and preparation you can work up an idea of what to expect. When you are thinking about these questions, also think about how you would answer them. You may want to make some notes, but don’t sound like you are reading from a script. Practice answering these common interview questions.
- Tell us about why you want the job.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What would you bring to the position and the organisation?
- Where would you like to be in five years?
- Have examples in mind.
When you are preparing for your interview and thinking about how you would answer certain questions about your knowledge, skills and experience, it’s important to be able to give evidence. A great way to do this is to give real world examples from your employment, education or volunteer history. You want to be detailed, but concise with your answers, and having thought about specific examples is a good way to do this.
Read through the job description again. One thing that you can do to help you to think of possible interview questions and answers is to read through the job description and personal specification again, as well as your application. This will refresh the particulars of the job in your mind. The interviewers will trying to determine how well you meet the specification for the job, so by re-reading this you will have a decent idea of what they will try to ascertain in the interview.
- Do a practice interview.
It’s a good idea to have a practice interview before the real thing. You could do this with a friend or family member, or you could just do it yourself rehearsing some answers in front of the mirror. List your strengths and qualities, but practice doing it an engaging way. Keep track of your language and tone, it should be formal but friendly, with confidence not cockiness.
- You could even record yourself and watch it back to analyse your body language as well as your answers.
- Dress to impress.
What to wear to the interview is a common point of debate and anxiety. There are no cast iron rules, and you should use a measure of your own judgement. But keep in mind that impressions matter and that you want to present a professional image. If you are in doubt it is definitely okay to ask somebody at the company what type of clothes are appropriate. If you do decide to do this, don’t just say ‘what do I have to wear to the interview’, but frame it in a more considered way.
- Try something like, ‘I am interviewing for a position at your organisation and was wondering if you could tell me a little about the company culture, so that I can dress appropriately’.
Part 2 Arriving for the Interview
Try to be rested and feeling well. When you arrive for the interview, you want to be fresh and sharp. It might be tough, but try to get to bed early the night before so you are well rested and ready to go. You don’t want to be yawning and rubbing the sleep from your eyes in the interview.
- Bring relevant documentation.
You will most likely have been instructed on what documentation you need to bring with you to the interview, but if you haven’t be sure to ask. Employers will often want to photocopy or scan particular documents while you are there so be sure that you have these in hand the day before the interview. Some things you may need to bring include:
- A copy of your resume, or CV.
- A copy of your passport or some photograph ID.
- Any professional or educational certificates or records required.
- Arrive a few minutes early, never late.
There is nothing worse than arriving late for your interview, not only does it demonstrate a lack of commitment and interest in the position, but also indicates poor personal organisation and initiative. Your train might be delayed, or you might get stuck in traffic so give yourself plenty of time to get there.
- If you arrive very early, it’s probably best to get a coffee somewhere nearby, rather than going and sitting in reception for half an hour. It can be a bit stressful for the office staff to have all the candidates queueing up, and it will be more relaxing for you.
- But be sure to report to reception with five or ten minutes to spare.
- Be courteous to the office staff.
It’s important to make good first impressions with everyone you meet, not just the people conducting the interview. Be polite and greet people with a smile and a handshake. Your performance in the interview is ultimately what will determine whether or not you get the job, but demonstrating that you treat other staff members will help to create a positive overall impression of you in the office.
Part 3 During the Interview
- Have positive body language.
During the interview, smile and look the interviewer in the eye, wait to sit down until the interviewer asks you, don’t slouch, and avoid nervous actions. Having a positive attitude is expressed through your body language as well as what you say, so pay attention to this during the interview.
- The initial stages of the interview are crucial and the impression you make in the first twenty minutes count for a lot.
The interview is a conservation, not you giving a monologue. The interviewers won’t be impressed if you don’t show that you can listen intently and take it what you are being told. Your interviewer is giving you information so you need to be alive to that to be sure you don’t miss anything important. Part of communicating well, is listening well.
- Listening well will also help to get a good picture of the culture of the place you are interviewing for.
- Really answer the questions you are asked, and use examples as evidence.
When you are being asked a question, it’s important that you take in the content of the question and answer it directly. If you are being asked if you have a particular skill or experience then you should provide some clear evidence of this with an example. If you don’t give a specific example, then not only are you only part answering the question, but you are also missing a great opportunity to present your skills and achievements in the clearest possible way.
- For example, if you are asked about your organisational skills, you might say that you are highly organised but follow this up by describing an event you organised in the past.
- If you are asked about meeting deadlines, you could reference the college or school assignments which you always turned in on time.
- Or if you are asked about the ability to handle competing priorities, you can talk about juggling work and study.
- If you can use evidence from outside work and education, you will also present a more rounded picture of yourself and your outside interests.
- Strike the right tone.
Be professional, but relaxed and confident throughout the interview. If you pay close attention to the interviewers you will see the style and tone they use and you can try to adapt to that and show that you can work well in such an environment.
- Avoid using negative language.
The language and tone you use is vital so you need to be aware of leaving negative soundbites in the minds of the interviewers. This can occur if you are asked a question about something that you do not have direct experience of. Of course, you should never give a false impression of your abilities or experience, but how you frame a negative answer is very important.
- Instead of just saying ‘no’, change the emphasis to a positive by highlighting other things you have done which are relevant, while indicating that you are keen to develop in this area.
- For example, if you are asked if you have ever organised an event at work, don’t say ‘no, never’, but say something like, ‘I have not been the lead in organising events, but I have been part of a team who did this and learnt a lot from it’. You could also give an example of something you have organised outside of work, like a sports tournament or charity event.
- Be positive, and show how you want to develop your skills and experience.
- Tell a story of your progression and development.
When you are talking in the interview keep in mind that you are trying to give an overview of your career progression so far, and your aspirations for the future. We learn in different ways, and your own personal experience has contributed to your personal and professional development.
- Don’t get carried away, veer off topic and give a monologue of your life story, but some personal information that explains how you have arrived at where you are can make your interview memorable, and contextualise your CV.
- Ask questions.
At the end of the interview, the interviewers will normally turn to you and ask if you have any questions for them. An important part of interviewing is asking good questions here, which demonstrate your enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and ability to take on board the information you gained through the interview.
You should ask questions both about the employer and about the job.
Some good examples of questions to ask are:
- What kind of training and career development opportunities to you offer?
- What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the job?
- How would you describe the work culture here?
- How do you envisage the company’s growth and development in the next five years?
- Do you have any doubts about my suitability for the role?
Part 4 After the Interview
- Send a thank you note to the interviewer.
You can do this with a handwritten note, or by email, but you should do it within the first 24 hours after the interview. In this note you should thank them for the opportunity to interview, and you might like to include some further information about you that follows up in something touched upon in the interview.
- You can follow a basic template of thanking the interviewer, briefly reiterating why you should be selected for the job, before finishing by saying you are looking forward to the next step.
- You can include additional information, and follow-up on something specific, but try to make it sound as natural and unforced as possible.
- If you don’t hear anything, don’t be afraid to contact them first.
If you were told you would hear on Monday morning and you haven’t heard a few days later, it’s okay for you to contact the employer and politely ask if a decision has been made yet. A brief phone call or email to HR should suffice. The key thing to remember is to be positive and don’t sound impatient or annoyed.
- Say something like, ‘it was great to meet you, I enjoyed talking to you and I was just wondering where you are in the decision process’.
- Start preparing for the next round of interviews.
Often recruitment procedures include more than one round of interviews. If this is the case with the position you have applied for, don’t hang around after the first interview before you begin preparation for part two. You could get short notice for the second round so you need to be prepared and ready to go.
- At the second interview you will want to be even better than at the first, so make sure you prepare thoroughly and have information about the company and the industry that you can talk about to demonstrate your knowledge.
- Be gracious whatever the outcome, and ask for feedback.
Whether you are successful or not, you should keep your professionalism at all times and thank the employer for the opportunity to interview. If you did not get the job, try to think of it as a learning opportunity and ask for feedback on your interview to see where you can improve.
- This feedback can be very helpful, but it can also be frustrating. Take criticism on the chin.
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