BUSINESS ENGLISH: 

HOW TO GET THAT JOB

ENGLISH JOB INTERVIEWS

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Written by: Marie

Marie is from Cape Town, South Africa. She has taught English as a second language in a variety of settings, including a kindergarten, after school language academy (in South Korea) and at a world famous language school for adults in her hometown. She is able to help students of all ages and levels. She can help you or your child with English grammar, British or American pronunciation or any type of English test preparation. She especially enjoys Business English and IELTS preparation. She has NINE years teaching experience with all ages, levels and nationalities.

What to expect

Job interviews usually have a certain structure. We will work on great answers together in this lesson. No matter what kind of profession you practice, the interview questions usually remain the same. Today we will look at common questions found in most interviews.

 

question #1

“Tell me a little about yourself…”

The structure of an excellent introduction:

1. Introduce yourself and say thank you

2. Briefly discuss your education and experience

3. Use adjectives to describe your personality and work ethic

4. Talk about why you are interested in this job

5. Make the interviewer remember you by having a strong but friendly conclusion to your introduction.

Wait a minute… Why do they ask you to introduce yourself if they already know who you are?

– If you are not a native speaker, this is basically a language test to check if you would be able to conduct business in English or not.

– Some people’s written and oral English are NOT on the same level.

– They want to see if you are presentable and whether you have confidence or not.

Meaning this is a vital part of your interview!

example answer for question #1

 

The structure of an excellent introduction:

Introduce yourself and say thank you

“Good morning! My name is Marie and I am from Cape Town, South Africa. I would just like to say thank you for giving me this opportunity to have this interview today. I have looked forward to meeting you! 

Briefly discuss your education and experience

I graduated from Stellenbosch University in 2008 and I have been an English teacher for the past nine years. I have various teaching diplomas and I have completed many courses including a CELTA and TEFL. During the past few years, I have taught all levels and ages of students, from complete beginners to advanced students, as well as students aged 4-60 years of age. I had the privilege of teaching in two different countries, these include South Africa and South Korea. I am currently one of the head teachers at Fluentella. 

Use adjectives to describe your personality and work ethic

People describe me as a supportive colleague who is willing to step in and pick up the slack. I am able to work well in a group as well as by myself. I am also incredibly thorough. I finish what I start on time, I pay a lot of attention to details and deadlines are very important to me. 

Talk about why you are interested in this job

I believe this position would enable me to develop as a teacher and educator. I am an exceptional communicator and can relate to students studying a second language as I am bilingual myself. I would like to focus more on administration and writing children’s fiction. That is why this position as Head of the Language Department would suit me very well.

Make the interviewer remember you by having a strong but friendly conclusion to your introduction

Lastly, I would just like to say that I look forward to working with you and meeting the team.  I have heard a lot of good things about this company and it would be an honor to call this place my second home. Thank you very much!”

question #2

“What do you know about our company / business?”

Why do they want to know this?

If you have done no research about the company, you will not get the job. It shows the interviewer that you don’t care about the job and frankly that you are not the right person for the position.

How to answer this question:

Talk about the research you have done about the company. Tell the interviewer where you found the information. 

Try not to mention anything negative you read. Focus on the positive. Briefly talk about the positive reviews of customers and employees.

Mention an article you read in the media (if applicable)

example answer for question #2

 

“I have done a lot of reading about (name of company) and so far I am very impressed. According to customer reviews, your service and assistance are of a very high standard. People are genuinely satisfied with your products. I currently use some of your products and love it myself. Last week I spoke to an employee from your office in Shanghai. He told me that he couldn’t be happier with the environment he works in, they have great work benefits and there are always opportunities to develop one’s career when working for (company’s name).  To top it all, your company won the “Company of the Year” award in 2019. That is incredible! Congratulations!”

question #3

“Why are you interested in this position?”

The interviewer wants to know why you are leaving your current position and why this job is better than any others. Be honest but do not bad mouth your old company or boss, this is disrespectful and the interviewer will not like it. Also do not mention anything about money or a bigger salary. It is not polite. However, some interviewers will ask you what kind of salary you expect. How would you answer that question?

Also mention how this position or job will help you develop and the new challenges it might bring.

example answer for question #3

“Like I mentioned before, I feel that it is time for me to take on a position where I would be more involved in the management of a school. Teaching is my passion but managing a group of teachers is still relatively new for me and hopefully, I can work on my managerial skills while employed at your company. There is no room for advancement at my current workplace and that is why it is time for me to move somewhere I can grow and develop. “

question #4

“What was the biggest challenge you had to face and overcome at work?”

This is a loaded question that should have two parts to the answer. The interviewer wants to know if you can fix problems or not. Your answer will also show him / her what kind of worker you are. First, briefly talk about what the problem was and why it was a problem. Don’t use an example where you were the cause of the problem! Next, talk about how you fixed the problem. Make it factual and try your best to not sound too confident.

example answer for question #4:

“Mmm, well, there is one situation that really stands out. Back in 2012, while I was a teacher in South Korea, I had a little boy in my class called Sam. Sam was not a typical student. He had a hard time keeping up and finishing on time. His mother was upset and blamed me. I decided to show her that her son was talented in other things but that he could also be successful in what she wanted. I worked with him one on one for almost a year before we started to see an improvement. I am still in contact with him and I am proud to say that he is not only good at learning languages, but also in creating and designing cars. I used an interest of his to make him fall in love with English. Sam is such a dedicated and intelligent child!”

question #5

“What is your biggest strength and weakness?”

This is a firm favorite in most interviews and is similar to the previous question where there is more than one part to the answer. Talk about your strongest quality related to the workplace and give a few examples. Be humble and sincere, do not sound obnoxious or full of yourself. 

When you talk about your biggest weakness, briefly state what it is and keep it short. No need to talk about it for too long. But, you HAVE to show how you are working on this problem. Give an example of what you are trying to do to better yourself.

strength and weakness vocabulary

example answer for question #5:

“This is not an easy question to answer! But, I suppose my biggest strength is that I am flexible. I am good at taking on challenges and the fact that some things change suddenly does not bother me. It is not a problem for me to adjust and I will always continue to work and finish on time, no matter the circumstances. I will figure out a way to be successful.   This leads me to my biggest weakness. I am very hard on myself when it comes to failure. In the past, it really got me down when I struggled and failed at work. Now, I am trying my best to try even harder the next time and learn from my mistakes. I believe in the saying, “There are only two options: Make progress or make excuses.” I prefer to not make excuses.”

Lastly…

Ask questions about things that are not clear. However, do some research before your interview so that you do not ask redundant questions and look foolish. 

Dress nicely and pay attention.

Smile. Even if you don’t want to.

If you don’t understand the question, ask the interviewer to repeat or explain the question. You are allowed to do that!

Relax. If you are nervous, you are not going to enjoy it.

Good luck ❤️

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