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What to Say in a Job Interview in English

What to Say in a Job Interview in English

Getting a job can be difficult, especially if your interview is English! Let’s try and make things a bit easier! In this article we will look at some typical questions you might be asked in your interview – and how to answer them.

Why have you applied for this job?

Avoid the temptation to say “Well, I need to earn some money and I saw your job ad on LinkedIn – so I thought why not?” Always be positive and professional. For example, you could say:

Your company has an excellent reputation in the insurance / real estate / finance etc sector. I believe I can make a positive contribution and learn from your team of experienced professionals.

Use phrases like “I believe” or “I am confident that”. Note that you “make a contribution”. (You don’t “do” one!)

How does your experience prepare you for this role? 

Be specific about your past roles and how they relate to the job you’re applying for. Highlight your achievements and how the skills you’ve gained make you an ideal candidate. You might say, for instance:

In my previous role as a customer service specialist, I handled over 50 customer interactions daily, resolving issues efficiently. This experience has honed my problem-solving skills and my ability to work under pressure, which are vital for this role.

The word “hone” means to make something perfect, e.g. you can hone the blade of a knife to make it really sharp. We usually combine “hone” with “skills”.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Employers ask this to understand how ambitious you are and how long you might stay with their company. Avoid mentioning any plans that don’t involve working in their industry or indicate that you won’t stay long. You could answer:

I see myself as a seasoned professional in this sector, taking on challenging projects that drive growth for the company. I appreciate opportunities for advancement and I’m committed to developing my skills further within this industry.

Seasoned” means that you’ve been doing something for a long time and you have a lot of experience. “To drive growth” means to make the company – and its profits – grow. Note that the phrase “I’m committed to” is followed by a gerund (-ing form): “committed to developing”.

Can you describe a challenge you’ve faced and how you dealt with it?

This question is to assess your problem-solving abilities. Be honest about a difficult situation but focus on a positive outcome or what you learned from it. Here’s an example:

In my last job, a project I was managing was falling behind schedule. I organised a series of extra meetings with the team to brainstorm solutions and reassign tasks based on each member’s strengths. We not only met the deadline but also received praise for the improved quality of work.

If a project is “falling behind schedule” it means that the end of the project will be late. Here, you’ve also got a useful English structure: “not only… (but) also”. This is a useful construction for linking two statements and makes your answers more professional and organised: “I not only studied engineering at university: I also worked as an intern (stagista) at a construction company for 6 months.”

Why should we hire you?

This is your chance to sell yourself. Don’t be shy about your accomplishments, but also show that you’re a good fit for their team and that you are aligned with the company culture. You might say:

I have the right combination of skills and experience for this job, plus I bring a passion for excellence and a commitment to teamwork. I thrive in collaborative environments and I’m always looking for ways to improve processes.

If someone is “a good fit” it means they have the right skills, experience and personality to work in that company.  The word “thrive” means to be successful.

Do you have any questions for us?

Always have a few questions prepared for your interview:  it shows you are interested in the role and the company where you have applied for the job. Good questions could be about the company culture, career development opportunities or specific projects you might be working on. For example:

Could you tell me more about your fast-track management programme?

Fast track” means accelerated: young managers at this company can probably get special training and opportunities so they can make progress and rise quickly through the company.

Interview Tips

1. Research the company: understand their values, recent news and their competitors.

2. Practice using the key phrases but don’t memorise whole sentences: you want to sound natural.

3. Dress appropriately: a smart suit and tie for men; skirt and jacket for women.  

4. Be punctual: aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early.

5. Follow up: send a thank-you email and show you’re available for the next interview round!

The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel in your interview. Study the phrases in this article – and practice saying them out loud.

You can also find a lot more phrases and interview tips on my website: PayAsYouLearn.com. The full Learn Business English course has an extensive section on Getting a Job and includes a lot of interview questions with examples and advice on how to answer them.

And, of course, read my Business English tips here on EasyMilano.com and watch the special videos I have created to help you learn key expressions and pronunciation in a fast, easy way.

Article by Robert Dennis for Easy Milano

Robert Dennis is a writer and Business English teacher based in Milan. He has been teaching for other 30 years both in the UK and in Italy. A long-time collaborator with John Peter Sloan, Robert published Business English (Gribaudo) in 2020. The book was launched with “Il Sole 24 Ore” and sold in newsstands throughout Italy. Robert has a website for people who want to learn Business English: PayAsYouLearn.com. The site features keywords and phrases, audio and exercises to help professionals improve their language skills. A graduate in English from Oxford University, Robert is a regular contributor to Easy Milano who often writes about plays staged in English in Milan and other cultural events in the city. He is also a translator and “buongustaio” who loves Italian food! robertdennis.it

Book a FREE mini English lesson with Robert! Have a 5 – 10 min online chat to learn some useful English expressions! Fill in the form below:

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    Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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