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What every applicant must be aware of for the English interview

Work interviews may already be by themselves a source of stress and uneasiness for most. But, when sitting face to face at the language evaluation interview, there is an extra factor to handle: proving their language proficiency without bending under pressure. In addition to strategies for anxiety management, applicants can take some actions to improve the experience of an English interview.

The first piece of advice, that applies for both, anxiety management and language evaluation performance, is rehearsing beforehand. However, there are some boundaries to respect within this suggestion: Evaluators perceive an over-rehearsed answer as unsubstantiated. In other words, an invalid answer in terms of evaluation because the speakers are not expressing their real linguistic capabilities. This becomes clear when the speech has complex words or structures that the applicant does not use in more spontaneous answers. In this moment, the evaluator perceives the answer as a red flag that, maybe, the speaker does not have an appropriate level of fluency.

In fact, it is convenient to anticipate possible answers for typical interview questions, but the speaker should always remain naturally spontaneous and never memorize. Indeed, interviewers tend to take these routine questions and add a variation to them. And it so happens that, after going over the same questions and memorizing the answers, interviewers automatically disregard any modification in the question and throw their standard answer, affecting their evaluation in coherence/comprehension for evading a whole approach or not elaborating enough.

On top of this, in the world of interviews, where the interviewer has probably listened to many other people throughout the day, it is a good strategy to make a positive difference. Therefore, even when answering to a typical interview question, it is wise to stay away from clichés or too many flamboyant words when they do not add any value to the argument or contribute to the goal of making a positive lasting impression.

Another key point, for the interviewer, the focus of attention (in a language evaluation interview) is registering the capability of communication of the speaker. Therefore, it is vital to go beyond short, simple answers and always attempt to elaborate. It comes handy, as well, to do some research on the company and be ready to refer to some topics with easiness, even if it involves looking up certain terms beforehand. The evaluator is interested in listening to the levels of vocabulary, fluency, coherence and pronunciation, rubrics that cannot be evaluated if there is not enough production. In a nutshell, not speaking enough during the interview, in terms of evaluation, is the same as making multiple language mistakes.

Now, what to do when making a mistake in the middle of the interview? The positive point is that if the applicants made a mistake when speaking and realized it, they are showing a higher level of linguistic ability. Slips of mind or mistakes are common even in a person’s native language. Acknowledging that mistake and self-correcting is not that common. The best the applicants can do is simply self-correct and continue. This will actually play at their favor, since it allows the evaluator to realize that the speaker is self-monitoring and on top of their own speech, without interfering with fluency. Likewise, in case of forgetting, it is recommended to find another way to express the same idea, instead of ruminating silently for a word. This creativity and capability for improvising is relevant in the workplace, so full of unforeseen linguistic possibilities. After all, we do not have a script in our hands for every possible situation in life.

Even in a language interview, applicants should be attentive of the attitude they project. Even if it may be a less formal interview, it still has some level of connection to Human Resources and applicants should monitor what they say and how they say it. Also, not interrupting the evaluator when giving instructions and saving the questions for the end will prevent any misunderstanding or miscommunication. On the other hand, in case of not hearing or not understanding the question, it is completely valid to politely ask for repetition. Practicing and taking into account polite alternatives of doing so will save them from projecting informality or a bad attitude, as in the case of a simple “what?” or “huh?.” Last, but definitely not least, attention to the small details can also save the day.  For instance, being ready for some level of small talk before the interview, if the evaluator allows for it; and even reacting spontaneously to courtesy words or greetings, such as “have a great day,” “thank you for your time” or “it was a pleasure.”

There are many pieces of advice that may improve performance in a language interview. Although speakers should start the interview with confidence in their own acquired abilities in order to convey it, the level of self-confidence and proficiency are entrenched on a scale. Projecting excessive confidence can be misinterpreted as having a bad attitude, and being too cautious with language or faking the pronunciation may affect fluency and naturalness. What is, then, the advice par excellence for that English interview? Taking a deep breath, trusting the acquired abilities, and keeping alive the spontaneity of language.


Author: Daniela Blandón Hernández 

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