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?

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