Today we are going to provide you with 3 practical tips for English job interviews. Many people falter at the interview stage even after they have been impressed with their resume and technical skills. We want you to feel confident going into the interview, so we’ve prepared today’s lesson which will go beyond “tell me about yourself” and use 3 questions to explain 3 simple yet powerful tips!
For those of you who enjoy reading on paper/e-readers, feel free to download this short ebook!
The 3 questions we will practice with today are:
After each question, we’ll present a bad and a good answer.
After each answer, we’ll provide a quick critique.
Finally, we’ll highlight 1 practical tip for each question, and some vocabulary, phrases, and sentence structures that you can use immediately in your interview.
Question 1: “Why do you want to work at our company?”
Let’s first hear an ill-prepared response:
I know you are hiring a lot of engineers recently. It seems like a great place with interesting technical problems. I like problem solving, so here I come.
The candidate hasn’t done his research about the company, so his answer is very general about why he wants to work there and what he has to contribute. He fails to mention specifics about that company or use language specific to that industry
I like that you deal with some of the most technical problems in machine learning. I was talking with my friend Tony the other day, who is part of your engineering team, and was impressed by all the interesting tools he got to play within in natural language processing. I look forward to growing with the company and exploring the frontier of NLP problems.
Shows he has done his research about the company, impresses with detailed specifics and uses language specific to that industry. He knows what this company prides itself in, what technology they’re using and shows that he is familiar with what the role entails. This answer is sure to make a better impression.
Practical tip 1: Know the role
When you apply for a company, do your research on
Doing research can help you answer a few other questions too like:
Useful language tips:
Question 2 : "What are you most proud of?"
I’m most proud that my team pushed most features out last year. We worked really hard to understand customer needs and simplify the problem whenever we can. I feel very proud that we are the most productive team
This answer didn’t seem too bad at first glance but failed to address specific traits of the candidate themselves. What did he/she do that contributed to the team’s productivity?
I take the most pride in organizing a weekly peer learning session among the engineers in my department. Each engineer used to all build different features individually, and sometimes we would end up building a component that had already been built before. The individualistic nature of our work hampered our productivity. Since I launched the peer learning session, everybody can share the tools they used and more importantly reusable modules they have built. This learning session has become one of the most liked meetings in my team, and has largely contributed to us becoming the most productive engineer team in the company.
Practical tip 2: Know yourself
We all have different personalities, working styles, and job histories. Before each job interview, spend some time thinking about what’s most interesting about you in relation to the job you are applying for.
Here are just a few possibilities to help you brainstorm, and we’ve embedded our language tips in bold. You could use those expressions on an interview if they apply to you.
Language tips (and possible strengths of yours):
Question 3: How do you deal with Situation X?
'X' here can be a number of different situations, but our answers to this question follow the same principle. We’ll start with a concrete example.
"Our company is expanding rapidly and is constantly evolving to meet market demands. How well do you handle change?"
I think it’s great that the company is growing fast. It makes working here more fun. I would rather work at a fast paced place.
This response is too short and general. The candidate needs to include specific examples that highlight his strengths.
I love a fast-paced working environment, and think that it pushes me to grow faster as well. Previously I was working with an ad agency to manage their in house experimentation systems. The system was designed to only support 1 variant at a time. As the company grew, I noticed that we got more and bigger customers that requested multi-variant experimentations through customer interviews and in-bound requests. While it was challenging to build such a complex system with automatic reporting, I understood that it was a necessary step to unlock the next level of growth, so I re-prioritized our feature requests and put together a convincing demo with my team. That demo ultimately paved way for a few multi-million dollar deals.
The candidate did 3 things really well. I encourage you to follow the same pattern when answering situational questions like this.
A. Identifies a situation he has experienced that relates to the question
B. explains what action he took
C. explains what he accomplished or learned from that experience.
Practical tip 3: Tell a story
One way to stand out with your answer is provide a story arc in your response. Make sure you cover the situation, action, and result in your response to a situational question.
The same story telling method can be applied to numerous other questions like
Bringing everything together
Remember to do your research on the company and know the role you’re applying for. Know yourself and your strengths and how they fill a need in that role. And tell a story when asked a situational question The best case scenario is when you are able to use the role, your personal strengths, and the story you tell all complement each other.
Of course, it takes practice to deliver these answers smoothly and confidently, so if you would like some help crafting and practicing your interview answers, book a Magoosh English Speaking class today and we’d be happy to help you out.