Friday, August 7, 2015

How to Prepare for an Interview in a Foreign Language

It's nerve-wracking enough having an interview in your native language, but then add into the equation that you're doing an interview in a foreign language and that can send even the steadiest nerves into a jitter.

I know this fine well and when I was in the midst of looking for an internship in France, to start off with, my interview technique was god-awful, big time. And then put doing an interview in a foreign language into the mix, and my first attempts at finding an internship were, surprise surprise, unsuccessful.

Thankfully, I learnt from my mistakes. Through a long and arduous process of trial and error, I finally got an internship at a brilliant company in Paris and it was, hands down, one of the best experiences to date. I got live and work in Paris for one, work with lovely colleagues to boot and I got to improve my French, although my French is still nowhere near the level I want it to be.

Anyhoo, I thought it was high time anyone who has an upcoming interview in a foreign language could learn from my mistakes and I could be the lovely lass I am and pass on my tips and advice.

So, what are my tips for preparing for an interview in a foreign language, you ask? 

#1 Research

Of course, this is advice that anyone should bear in mind for preparing for any interview.  But when it's an interview in a foreign language, this comes in even more important. You can research your company in your target language, so you can get used to the appropriate vocabulary for your industry, as well as doing the standard research about the company you should already be doing. It kills two birds with one stone.

If you're interviewing for a big corporation, you could search online on sites such as Glassdoor to see if previous candidates have uploaded their interview questions. This will give you a better insight into what questions could crop up.

#2 Second guess potential questions

Once again, you should already have thought up potential questions. However, having an idea of the potential questions in a foreign language will allow you to have an idea of how the interviewer could word the question. You will have also have thought up answers to the questions, showing off why you are the perfect candidate for the job. The practise will prepare you to feel ready, confident and determined to get the job offer.

Youtube is a goldmine when it comes to practising interview questions in your target language. Simply type in interview questions on Youtube and you will find loads of videos with advice as to how to answer them in a foreign language.

#3 Grab yourself a language partner

If you know someone who is a native speaker, get a hold of them immediately and role play the interview. Your friend can help you out with any grammatical mistakes or necessary vocabulary and you will have a feel for the actual interview itself. Even if you don't know a native speaker, it's likely you have a friend who studies the same language. If you don't know anyone at all, try finding a language exchange partner on WeSpeke. Practise, practise, practise until your heart's content. The more practise, the better.

#4 Revise your weak spots

As much as we would all like it to be true, you are not going to learn the entire language in a day. But what you can to boost your confidence is revise your weak spots. Does the subjunctive leave your tongue in a twist? Do you hate pronouncing the guttural "r" or the nasal sounds in French? Do you forget those pesky false friends? Feeling confident about your weak spots will make you feel confident as a whole to do an interview in a foreign language.

#5 Get used to the language

Familiarise yourself with how native speakers talk by listening to the radio or music, watching clips on Youtube (finally an excuse to watch cat videos, as long as it's in the target language) or even feature-length films. Listening is a hard skill to improve and learn, but you can easily practise it by having it on in the background whilst you work, exercise, even relax or of course, prepare for your interview.

Do you have any tips for interviewing in a foreign language? Have you ever had an interview in a foreign language? How did it go?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Sea of Seven Colours: San Andrés

Ahh San Andrés. I was expecting sea, sand, coconuts, reggae and the like, and San Andrés lived up to that and then some.

La playa en la isla de San Andres, Colombia
Pantalla en la isla de San Andres, Colombia

I'm still marvelling at how blue the sea is, even right next to the town centre. I'm still admiring the cute Caribbean style signs and how colourful my photos are. And I'm still yearning to go back for more.

Sadly, the spanner in the works aka a big work assignment that I stupidly didn't finish before coming, got in the way of my rest and relaxation plan. But, even a big work assignment couldn't get completely in the way, and I definitely had a great taster of what the island had to offer. I came back less tense, with a massive grin on my face and I had let go of any pent-up stress.

Dia de la Independencia en San Andres, Colombia
Desfile del dia de independenca en San Andres, Colombia
Desfile del dia de la independencia, Colombia

I managed to arrive just as the island's independence day parade was in full swing. Crowds of San Andrés locals and Colombians had gathered to celebrate, Vendors were selling ice-cold beers, freshly cooked empanadas and the streets were buzzing with energy. The procession was filled with drums banging, percussion rattling and school children doing a 1-2 step to the beat. Apparently, mainland Colombians come to San Andrés for the Independence Day Parade, as well as the sun, sea and white sand beaches. Apparently that's a selling point too.

Ruta en San Andres, Colombia

You may have heard there's a lot of duty-free shopping, golf carts and all-inclusive holidays, and that is true. But San Andrés is so much more than that, and I loved my time there. Although, anything to do with the Colombian Caribbean and I will fall hopelessly in love with it (pretty much).

Bote en la isla de san andres, colombia

My plan was to while my days away on the beach, so that's pretty much all I did. And being a creature of habit I am, I would hop on the bus to San Luis, and get off at Rocky Cay. It's a white sand beach, which even has a island you can wade out to. The only other beach I went to was the one by the town centre, and whilst it does the job, it's packed full of holidaymakers seeing as it's right next to all of the hotels. Still, if you just want to lie on a beach, it will do the job.

El suelo colorido en San Andrés, Colombia

I didn't even make it over to Johnny Cay, Cayo Bolivar nor Cayo Cangrejo, all of which are beautiful beaches there. But I've decided, as with just about everything, it's an excuse to return to San Andrés. Along with the snorkelling and scuba diving options, as well as trying my hand at kite surfing of course.

Although even higher on my to-do list is visit the island of Providencia, which is a two hour seasick-inducing ride away on catamaran. The journey is worth it and I met so many who had just come back from Providencia and they were raving about it. Providencia is as nature intended, with pristine beaches and sea, without the big hotel complexes and duty-free outlets. Providencia is the perfect place to switch off and abandon the never-ending quest to look for wi-fi. 

Graffiti a Blue Almond Hostal, San Andres, Colombia
Artwork at my hostel, Blue Almond Hostel, check it out!

What San Andrés was perfect for, was a change of scenery, just as I was reaching boiling point with Medellín. As much as I love living in Medellín, there had been an unfortunate sequence of events that had me chomping at the bit to go elsewhere. San Andrés offered me an escape, conveniently coming with the typically laid-back Caribbean way of life, which allowed me to recharge my batteries and properly relax, even with a big work assignment to hand in.

That's the San Andrés effect.

Have you been to San Andrés? Where is your favourite place to go to relax?