The whole process of searching for a new job can be extremely stressful with peaks in stress levels occurring at the job interview. When a part or all of the interview is to be conducted in a language which is not your mother tongue then naturally stress levels increase even more. If you have an interview for a job with an international company and English is not your first language then you are likely to find yourself in this exact situation.
If you have even thought of applying for a job in an international company it is likely that you have a good level of English. You may feel confident in normal conversations and business situations. At least you feel able to communicate. You may even be experienced in conducting job interviews as an employer, but when was the last time you had to present? This situation is a little different and there are other elements which may be conspiring against you. You may need to travel to the interview which is tiring, especially if the interview is first thing in the morning. First impressions are always important and arriving tired can damage your performance. The competition for the post maybe strong. You do not know how many people have made it this far. This may be one of a series of interviews and you must perform well in each. So what can you do to improve your chances? The key to success lies in your preparation but you may not have much time.
Your preparation should start well before you are invited for an interview. It is not unusual to get a call or email saying ‘Can you come this Friday?’ If someone needs to fly in from overseas to be part of the interview panel then the arrangements are often made at short notice. Giving yourself four days to prepare is more likely to induce panic than a sense of calm confidence. Nobody expects you to be a native speaker but they will expect you to be prepared. A well-structured presentation adapted to the requirements of the job description is essential. When you apply for the job, assume you will be invited for an interview so start preparing immediately. Some of your preparation will be generic and suitable for all future interviews. Other elements will need to be specifically prepared for each job application.
You should be ready to answer some questions which are frequently asked in job interviews. For example, be prepared to talk about your most significant successes in your previous posts and how you achieved them. You may be asked about the greatest challenges you have faced and how you overcame them. There may be questions about your management or leadership style. You may feel able to prepare these answers well in advance but if your responses can be matched to the requirements of the new job then you will be able to show previous experience in these specific areas. This should emphasise your suitability for the post and win you some valuable points.
If a headhunter or recruitment agency has put you forward for the job then be sure to ask for as much background information as possible, including information about the interview panel. Looking them up online can you give you an invaluable insight into the people who will be sitting on the other side of the table. You should also do your homework on the company itself, of course, especially in relation to the central role of the job you are applying for.
If the interview is worth going to then it is worth putting some effort into your preparation and practicing your presentation. You should consider getting some professional help and coaching for your presentation in English. Find alternatives for words that you find difficult, practice speaking about yourself in a positive way and practice giving well-structured answers to a range questions.
Remember, an interview is a two-way process. You want to make a good personal presentation to give yourself the best possible chance but you also want to find out if you want the job. Is this the right company for you? You should have some good questions prepared and be ready to understand the answers. With a bit of effort, you can greatly increase your chances of selection and get the position that you deserve. Your friends and family will say ‘Good luck with your interview’, and being lucky is great but being well prepared will increase your luck.