“Selling yourself”

Successful job interviews in English

Applying successfully for a job is all about selling yourself. This can be a challenging task, particularly if it has to be done in a foreign language. Good preparation is the key: you should think very carefully about how your skills and experience make you the right person for the job and in an interview you need to be able to express things clearly and answer tricky questions in the right way.

This article provides you with a lot of tips and recommendations, so you will be more confident in English in order to get the job you are looking for.

Your interview should be a carefully planned event. The more you prepare, the better the chances are of making a good impression. Gather as much information about the company as possible by using their website. Try to find out how many people are joining the interview and ask for the names of the people you are going to meet. Think about the questions the interviewers might ask you and prepare the answers. The likelihood of saying the wrong thing increases when you are speaking English, especially if you are nervous, so you better have your responses prepared and practice them beforehand. Don’t forget to take your CV, covering letter and work references with you.

Greeting and warm-up
No matter what sort of company you are applying to, dressing well is a sign of respect. Most people know what type of clothing is acceptable for their area of business, but if you are unsure, dress conservatively. You will look and feel more professional. Don’t be late! Experts say that you should arrive early – not less than 15 minutes before the interview starts. Make a first good impression by using confident body language – firm handshake, steady eye contact and above all – smile! As for native speakers of English, small talk is an important part of the interview, start up with light conversation to calm down your nerves and to build rapport.

Talking about your career, education and personal skills
To check your language skills, interviewers might start by asking you to tell about yourself. To get started, your CV in English provides you with the summary of your past experience in chronological order. Use it and don’t worry too much if your grammar isn’t perfect. The most important thing for the interviewers is to find out how well you communicate in general. Active listening is also essential. And don’t forget that you are at the interview to sell yourself. This means emphasizing your past achievements and current responsibilities and what you believe you could do for your potential future employer. To come up to this, use active, dynamic vocabulary as much as possible.
Try to be honest and natural. The biggest mistake you can make in interviews is that you aren’t authentic. Experts say that if you show a very professional picture, that isn’t a true picture, you won’t win them over. Your future employers rather want to know what you have learned from earlier experiences, including negative ones. Explain how you can put this knowledge to use for their company.

Tricky questions
More and more personal managers ask offbeat questions. They are used to test the candidate’s ability to think creatively, logically and quickly. As it is almost impossible to prepare for every offbeat question, an internet search under “strange interview questions” will at least give you an idea of what to expect.

Final phase
Most interviews end with interviewers asking candidates whether they have any questions. As you are interested in finding out where you stand, you could ask how well your profile fits to the candidate they are looking for. It’s important to end the interview on a positive note. Although you want to get an idea of the salary, holiday and additional benefits , the precise details are usually best discussed in a second interview.  By then, the company has already narrowed down its choice and is prepared to make an offer.
Smile and tell them that it was a pleasure meeting them and that you enjoyed the discussion. Also express that you look forward to hearing from them. This is a polite and positive way to close.


applying for a job sich bewerben
a challenging taskeine anspruchsvolle Aufgabe
skills and experience Fähigkeiten/Fertigkeiten und Erfahrung
to gather informationInformationen sammeln
CV (curriculum vitae)Lebenslauf (A.E. résumé)
cover letterBegleitschreiben
work referencesArbeitszeugnisse
to build rapport with sb.ein gutes Verhältnis aufbauen
past achievementsbisherige Leistungen/Errungenschaften
current responsibilitesderzeitiger Verantwortungsbereich
offbeat questionsausgefallene/ungewöhnliche Fragen
to narrow sth. downetwas eingrenzen