Skip to content
Home » Sometimes more miles are good

Sometimes more miles are good

Please tell me about yourself?

I am certainly no interview expert and I do not actually know anybody that is. I do know some people with some great ideas and advice and I myself have gone through several interviews and now administer English Assessments for some corporations. I have several students that are headhunters and they share some stories with me. For the companies that I work with, English is a crucial requirement that can separate the candidate from the group and place them in the continue pile or in the no thank you pile. I came up with my own interview process and I believe that people find it to be comfortable, realistic, revealing and quick. In one hour I am able to come to a conclusion about your level. The conclusion may be superficial, but the interview and my report help the company to choose wisely.

Seeing through the fog

How do you perform in unstructured situations? Some people are really good at speaking and not so good at writing, others are strong in listening but have a hard time with numbers and dates. I have talked to some people that articulate themselves well and leave me with a great impression. I try my best not to be swayed by how well someone treats me during the interview and I do my best to only focus on the level of English. The recruiter that will receive my report is depending on me to clarify the level of English of the speaker and I do my best to make that my focus.

You help set the pace

The trajectory of our conversation is assisted by the interviewee and your participation in the conversation is crucial. Be prepared for the interview by training before. I have talked to so many people that tell me that they have not spoken English in years. They knew that they were going to be assessed and yet they did not prepare. I never understood this and actually find it to be a little frustrating. I have graded interviewees with a lower score because they were rusty. I note that I believe that they could have done better if they had practiced before. I can tell that they are nervous or intimidated by the lack of practice. They have one foot in the door but hold back out of fear of making a mistake. I encourage you to make sure that you practice and prepare before your interview.

Don’t be your own judge

The upside of being caught off guard is twofold: the interviewer can see how you really do in English and you get a reality check by speaking with a person that is focusing only on your English. Make sure that you do not criticize yourself and try not to show your frustration. I really enjoy talking to people that are comfortable. It accents their English even more and draws my attention away from their mistakes. I do my best to grade a candidate accurately, but if you help me to see you negatively by constantly criticizing yourself, it won’t end up good for you. Try to maintain a positive attitude throughout the conversation and leave the assessing to the interviewer.

How did you learn and how often do you use English?

I’m always curious about how a person learned English. There are many wonderful schools, and private teachers, as well as online apps and sites. Some people are self-taught and self-motivated to learn even more. Have some stories ready that help the recruiter to better understand your abilities and how you got to the point that you are. Have one good example that illustrates your ability and make sure that you highlight that you want to learn more. Acknowledge that you know that there is more to learn and that you plan on continuing to grow. Even if your current job does not allow you to practice much, make sure that you are practicing outside of work. You need to dress for the job that you want and not the job that you have, English is the same. Prepare for where you want to go and not where you are.

Do you use English with your current employer?

This goes along with not being ready for the interview and can be a hot-button question. Not using English in your current job is no excuse for not being ready to use it in the job that you are trying to get. If your resume (CV) says that you speak English, you better be ready to do so. Make sure that you implement a course of action that prepares you for where you want to go. If you want to grow in your current job, or you want to get a new job, be ready before the time to prove you are ready when it arrives. Now is the time to ratchet up your skills and the fact that you are reading this tells me that you are already working on that area. Congratulations! Networking is an important aspect of this and looking for chances to speak with a native speaker can help you a lot with this mission.

Everyone can improve

I make mistakes sometimes and I was born and raised in the USA. My English is great, but even I need to pay attention to what I write and what I say. I have spoken with Americans and foreigners and understood little of what they said. This sounds funny but it is true. Be ready for some constructive criticism and grow from what you hear. I do not reveal all of my cards when an interview finishes, but I do give the interviewee some hints about their strengths and I encourage them to work on some of their weaknesses. I think that it is important for them to have an idea of how they did and the impression that they left me with.  

A picture is worth a thousand words

Which illustration best describes your level of English? How do you see yourself and how do you show yourself to others? I speak with some people that use the words they know very well but they have limits as to how many words they know. Others try to look more sophisticated, but they do not always use the words well or they use them in the wrong way. Some people appear shy and build a shield around themselves. I end up spending an hour trying to get past it so that I can give a fair assessment. Some people think that they have an amazing level of English, but they actually need to take a step back and come down from cloud nine. There are many clichés to describe the different situations that I encounter. You do not need to be an English zealot, but having the ability to work in the environment that you are interviewing for is an important aspect of your career.

Step up

Don’t make the interviewer go fishing to understand your level of English. Do your best to be ready before the interview. I don’t think that you can just turn on your language abilities and then turn them off again. You need to be ready all of the time. A native speaker will see through your masquerade. Try your best to put yourself in an English-speaking world and don’t just make it one or two dimensional. Find someone to practice with and make sure that you are creating the opportunity to write. You want to be a full range candidate and give yourself every advantage that you can.

****** The article above is from the Make Your English Better Advanced Lesson Eleven. The Advanced level contains 24 lessons (12.5 hours) with 47 videos to follow. You need to have an Advanced level of English or a high Intermediate level equivalent to a B-2 level to get the most from these lessons.

Experiencing the world and opening doors

These lessons will help you to build your English skills in a way that improves your ability to face challenges, present your ideas, compose an intelligent text and digest what you hear and read in English. The lessons are presented at a faster pace to make the situation more realistic and the texts are more complex.

Christopher DeLong