Successful Job Interview in English
Topmanager Journal 03/2023
About Cultural Fit and Survival Strategies
So you receive an invitation to an job interview for a top management position and you are told it will be conducted in English. Of course, your English skills may be excellent. But have you considered the cultural aspect? You might find the following tips useful.
How is your “Cultural Fit”?
If the job interview is in English, it is most likely to be a global company with a head office in another country. Are you familiar with their culture?
Cultural awareness as a key competency for all employees. Companies are looking for people who understand international and cultural differences, value diversity and are ‘interculturally fluent’. So be prepared for questions on your cultural fit!
Three useful tips for your job interview preparation:
- Find out about typical greetings, levels of formality, business dress, hierarchies and how people think, lead and get things done in the culture of the country. “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer is a very useful book.
- Is the new culture a “peach” or a “coconut” (softer or harder outer shell)? Peach cultures (typically US) tend to be very friendly from the start, move quickly to first names, share information about themselves and ask personal questions of those they hardly know.
- Learn as much as you can about the corporate culture of the company too. Are you a good fit? Do your values and beliefs match those of the organisation? How can you act authentically in an interview to show that you are a good fit?
Survival strategies for your job interview
Five more tips to manage your job interview professionally:
Internalise the English language you need – tenses:
- I manage large projects (regular tasks).
- I am currently managing a large project (current tasks).
- I managed three projects last year (time over, action over).
- I have managed two projects this year so far (time still relevant).
- I will make sure this project succeeds (resolutions).
- I am going to finish the project next month (intentions).
Speak, listen and read
Speak as much English as much as you can with colleagues, family and friends before the interview. The more you are used to speaking English, the more you can focus on the content of the questions and answers in the interview, rather than your English skills. It is particularly useful to listen to videos and podcasts as well as read articles about the company and its industry to familiarise yourself with the vocabulary of the latest products and trends as well as the company culture.
Gain confidence with Moments of Excellence
You are being hired mainly for your professional skills – not just your level of English. Stay relaxed if your mind does goes blank and, when you are out of your comfort zone, seize the good feelings from a previous successful interview to give you confidence – you may then remember what you wanted to say. And lastly, listen actively to stay focused on the interviewer and understand what is being asked. Smile, look them in the eye and ask clarifying questions or rephrase them to ensure understanding:
So what you’re saying/asking is … / If I understand you correctly … Just to make sure I understand, you would like to know … You would like to know how I…
Dos and don’ts
- Do use common polite English phrases.
- Do listen actively and check your understanding of questions.
- Do pause if necessary to collect your thoughts.
- Don’t ever excuse your bad English.
- Don’t go beyond the bounds of the question – stay specific.
Learn to describe words you don’t know as professionally and confidently as you can. Don’t let the fact that you don’t know a word disturb the flow of the conversation in the interview.
And now – good luck for your job interview!
Unerwartete Fragen für Topmanager im Job interview?
Die gängigen Fragen in Vorstellungsgesprächen kennt jeder. Doch gerade Top-Führungskräfte müssen sich auch spontan auf unerwartete Fragen einstellen. Der Zweck: Sie aus der Komfortzone zu locken. Wie Sie trotzdem souverän reagieren, erfahren Sie im Interview mit Claus Verfürth.
Ihr CV als Türöffner:
Die Executive Bewerbung
Bei einer Executive Bewerbung kommt es vor allem auf Individualität und persönliche Positionierung an. Wie Sie mit Ihrer Bewerbung im Topmanagement punkten und weitere wertvolle Tipps gibt es in unserem Blog-Beitrag Bewerben als Top-Führungskraft.