Thursday, March 29, 2007

Job Interview Skills for ESL Speakers

The job interview process in the U.S. is familiar to most American adults. We know we usually need to provide a resume and a cover letter when applying for a new job. We know that there are certain questions that we will probably be asked during a job interview ("tell me about yourself," "how do you deal with conflict," "what do you bring to the job that other candidates do not," etc.) However, this whole process is foreign to many people from other parts of the world. Fortunately, many of these questions can be prepared for and rehearsed by job applicants by studying information from such sites as They have a great list of job interview questions and other pointers for job seekers.

Speakers of English as a Second Language have additional challenges to overcome when they are competing in the U.S. job market. Grammar problems, properly using modals, vocabulary limitations, pronunciation challenges, cultural differences, Visa issues, etc. These issues make it even more important that non-native English speakers thoroughly prepare for job interviews.

I usually send links to my students with information about the questions they should prepare for. They then work on the answers on their own time and we practice the answers during our tutoring session. Non-Americans often seem to have a tougher time tooting their own horns, so I often have to pull out more details for the answers so that the job seeker will shine in their interview. Of course, we also work on grammar, word choice, and other ESL issues for the interviews.

I'm currently working with a research physician from an Eastern European country. In her country, competition for positions is less and far less preparation is needed for a job interview. This whole process is new to her. Tonight, we worked on a few of the typical questions asked by most employers.

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