I’ve always found interviews to be fun, but I know not everybody is like me. I’ve always done well during them and have extensive experience being the interviewer, as well as the interviewee. In this article, I’ll share a few tips to help you establish a healthier mindset for the interview and to help you stand out from other candidates. If you apply them, you’ll be more confident regardless of what language you’ll be speaking during the interview.
I’m from Montreal, and most jobs there require you to speak both English and French. My French is not nearly as fluent as my English, and from time to time it can be embarrassing speaking to French people. Like many of you, I get nervous, can’t always find the right words, and can barely put a sentence together, even though I have the skills and the ability to speak French. The situation is what makes you get lost. Interviews in a foreign language are always a little more nerve-wracking, but they don’t have to be as long as you do two things: plan your answers and adopt the right mindset.
Planning Your Answers
In fact, if you’re doing the interview in a foreign language, it should assist you in avoiding one of the most common interview mistakes: talking too much. Please, please, please plan your answers! Chances are you can find over fifty percent of the interview questions online already. Why would you not plan for it? Don’t you want this job? And for the questions you can’t plan for, at least plan your basic answering strategy.
From my experience as an interviewer, the interviewee who talks too much comes off as lacking confidence or unprepared, neither of which are desirable traits. These interview candidates keep talking until they think the interviewer is happy with what they said. They’ll repeat themselves and get lost in their own thoughts during the interview, which is not ideal. I even have had candidates ask me during the interview, “What was the question again?” They’ve been answering a question, but they don’t even know what they’re trying to communicate! Have a plan! Use the STAR method for most interview questions.
Setup: Setup up the scenario.
Task: Tell them about the task you were faced with.
Action: Talk about the actions you took.
Result: Finish by telling them what the results were.
- Question: What is your greatest strength?
- Answer: I love challenging myself.
S: When I was in Vancouver, I decided to run a marathon. Not only did I want to complete the marathon, but I also wanted to be proud of my time.
T: I researched training for a marathon, joined some online forums, and created a training schedule to achieve my goal: to complete the marathon in under 3 hours and 45 minutes.
A: I spent the next two months following my training plans, discussing how I was doing with other runners online, and making adjustments to my training schedule when needed.
R: By the time the Marathon came, I was well prepared. I finished the marathon in 3 hours, 44 minutes, and 19 seconds.
Then stop talking! You don’t need to say any more. You’ve answered the question well. Of course, if possible, use examples that show you have relevant skills for the job you’re applying for when you can talk about related job experiences.
Changing your Mindset
Now, the mindset. It’s ok to be a little nervous for an interview. Some people are overly nervous before interviews because of the mindset they have. They have an “I desperately want the job” mindset. I can’t make a mistake or I’ll lose the job.
Being curious about the job is a healthy mindset to reduce nervousness. You’re going to the interview to find out more about the job. I know you probably already want it, but it’s better to appear undecided to the interviewer. Think about it like a date. If you went on a date with a person, and the first thing you say to them is, “Will you marry me?” they’ll think you’re crazy. You need to get to know the person first.
So please ask questions! The interviewee who ask questions stands out. It says that you value yourself and don’t want to work for just any company. You want to work for a company that will also value you. I like to make a list of questions and pull it out at the end of the interview to make sure I’ve asked all of them. It’s possible that by the end of the interview you’ve already found out all the information you need to know, but when that interviewer sees that list they’ll think, “Hey, this person plans ahead, none of the other candidates did that.”
In summary, if you want the job, plan ahead. Have your game plan prepared for the interview. You can’t predict each and every question, but you can come prepared with a plan of how you will answer them. It’s ok to play detective and ask lots of questions during the interview. It’s your life. Show the interviewer you want the job that’s right for you. So think about that interview and write out some questions for the interviewer. Good luck!