How You Can Answer Some English Job Interview Questions

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In my previous blog/article “English Job Interviews and Why Searching for a Job is not Just Writing an English Resume” I talked more about the preparation for a job interview and very little about how to answer English job interview questions.  It was more about the preparation and search for information, deciding on your main skill and traits, determining how or where you acquired your skills, developing some stories or examples you can use to illustrate you using the skills, and a little bit about how to answer a job interview question. I will now talk more about how to answer some English job interview questions. 

I have already mentioned some of the preparation activities that you should do, so I will not go into much detail here.  I will first review the show and prove idea that was dealt with in the previous blog/article.  Show and prove is a way in which in answering many of the job interviewers’ questions you can ensure that they understand that you actually have the skills and personality traits that you say you have.  It is not just a matter of saying you have these skills and traits.  You need to prove that you have them, by saying how or where you acquired them.  Or, you need to show that you have them by giving an example (story) about you accomplishing something and thereby showing you using the skills or exhibiting the traits.  Now, onto some of the job interview questions and how to answer.

How to Answer Show and Prove English Job Interview Questions 

The answers we will deal with will mostly be those that you can use the show and prove method.  The first one is “Tell me about yourself”.  For this you use your education, work experience, and other experience to show and prove you have the skills they are looking for.  From your education you will know how you learned a skill.  Work experience will provide two things; where you acquired the skill, and some stories/examples you can use.  Other experience, which includes internships and extracurricular activities, if relevant, will tell you where acquired some skills and possibly provide some stories/examples you can use.  You use your education, work experience, and other experience information to prove you have the skills or to provide a story to show you have the skills. 

Other questions that are related to “Tell me about yourself” and for which you can use part or a simplified version of the above answer include “Why should we hire you?” For the answer to this job interview question, use much of the previous answer, but be more specific about the skills you have and show and prove them.  Another question is “What has been your work experience?”  Use the work portion of the “Tell me about yourself” answer to prove your have the skills and use a story, such as a major accomplishment, to show you have the skills.  The last one is “What makes you the best candidate for the job?”  Be more specific for this interview question answer.  Focus on the skills and traits you have that are key for this position.  Don’t forget to show and prove that you actually have them using you work, education, and other experiences.  These types of questions are trying to find out if you have the skills that they are looking for.

How to Answer other Types of Job Interview Questions 

Let’s look at other types of job interview questions that are not really show and prove answers.  “How do you handle pressure?” is one question that they use to see if you can manage your time wisely.  For this interview question answer you first need to prioritize the work items, do the important ones first to reduce your work pressure, then do the other work items, and finally you should mention how you reduce your stress.   

As an aside I will give a quick English review.  Pressure comes from an outside source such as work, while stress is something inside you that is caused by outside forces.  So, pressure comes from outside you and stress comes from within you. 

“What was your last major decision and how did you make the decision?” is another question that you may hear at a job interview.  This job interview question is trying to understand your decision making process.  They want to see if you take too long to make a decision or if you make decisions too quickly.  Tell them the process you use for an important decision and hopefully you don’t use the same process to decide where to have lunch.  The process should go like this: first, gather some information and possibly consult with others to gain more information and opinions; next, think about the information; finally, make your decision.  This process is very similar to the problem solving process, except not as complex.  The problem solving process starts with analyzing the problem before moving onto gathering information and consulting, and also you need to come up with some solutions before deciding upon the one you will implement.   

As another English aside: a decision is where you need to choose between two or more things: and, a problem is where you need to come up with a solution to solve something.  So a problem is something that needs to be solved and a decision is where you pick between a few choices. 

Let’s move onto “What is your biggest weakness?” a tricky job interview question that they may want you to answer.  You need to come up with a real weakness and not use something that you may present as a weakness, but which they might think is good.  An example is “I’m a workaholic and I am always thinking about work”.  You need to choose a real weakness, but not one that is a skill or trait that is key for this position.  You can pick something like time management, or I sometimes take too long to make decision (if decision making is not a key skill needed for the position).  Don’t pick something like “I am afraid to talk to people”, especially if this is a sales position.  The main thing is to not spend too much time talking about your weakness, rather you should spend most of the time talking about what you have done or are doing to improve on your weakness. 

A related question is “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”  You should first talk about just one of your weaknesses (see the paragraph above for how to answer), and then talk about two or more strengths.  Even though the question had strengths first you should leave them until the end because the interviewers will most likely remember the last thing or things you said more than they will remember the first thing you said. 

You may be asked “What has been your greatest accomplishment?” as an interview question and in answer to this you can use one of your stories/examples.  As you were preparing for the job search process you would have developed a few stories to show you using the skills and traits you have.  I would hope that at least one of them would be about your greatest accomplishment at work.  In answer to this job interview question first start with why you see it as your greatest accomplishment.  You can then go onto telling the story which will show you using a few skills and exhibiting some good traits. 

These are some of the ways you can answer job interview questions.  They are not the full answers in that I did not write out any examples for you.  I believe that if you have done your preparation like I have mentioned in my previous article and follow the steps in answering the above interview questions, you will be able to develop very good answers to any English job interview questions.


For more information about English job interviews and answering job interview questions please see English for Job Interviews

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