What to say at your job interview (all my BEST phrases and tips!)
Hi, everyone. I’m Jade. What we’re talking
about today is job interview English. So, in this lesson, I’m going to give you some
phrases that you can use in a job interview, and I’ll also be giving you… We’ll also be
looking at what grammar you should be using to answer common job interview questions.
So I’m going to break it down so you know what to expect when you have that job interview
in English, maybe for the first time, or maybe you’ve already had a couple of interviews in English
but you just want to improve your performance. So let’s start by talking about before the interview.
So when you get there, there’s always, like, that bit of small talk. Maybe
you find it awkward, maybe you’re a pro at small talk, but I thought I’d just give you
some phrases so that you’ve got something to say, at least. So, when you get there,
it’s polite to say something like: “Thanks for inviting me to interview.” If you
feel like initiating small talk, you could say something like: “Is the position based in
this office?” or “building”, wherever you are. You might also want to say: “Oh, how
many people work here?” Just sort of general things, nothing personal going on there. Or you might make an observation about what
you see about the building or the workplace. You could say: “The offices are impressive.”
Now, clearly, if the building isn’t very nice, and there isn’t anything remarkable about
it, then I probably wouldn’t say something like this. It’s better to make no observation
than say one that’s not true, or one that sounds a bit strange because the place is a real dump.
You don’t want to say it’s great in your phrase. But maybe the area’s nice, so
then you could say: “What a great location!” This is an exclamation. You say it with some
kind of enthusiasm. Or you might say, as you’re walking to the interview room: “Ah, I see
you have an open plan office.” That means where everybody works together in the same room.
Or you might say: “I see you have a staff canteen.” That’s where you get your food. Okay? So, all suggestions for general small talk. The interviewer may, however, initiate small
talk with you, in which case, general things they like to talk about in England… Our…
Our favourite topics of small talk are the weather, so you could say something like:
“It’s chilly today.” That means it’s a bit cold. Or mild. “Mild” is… “Mild” is when
the weather is better than you would expect for that time of year. So if it’s winter and
it’s mild, it’s not as cold as you would expect it to be. Yep. So we love to talk about the
weather, you know that about British people. Did you also know we like to talk about the
traffic or the tube delays and things like that? So, perhaps they’ll say: “How was the traffic?
How was your journey here?” You can tell them about your journey. Say: -“Oh, it
wasn’t bad.” -“How was your journey?” -“Not bad.” That means it was okay. Or you could say:
“It didn’t take me too long.” It didn’t take me too long. Now, just a tip: You don’t
want to say: “It was a nightmare; it took me hours”, because they’ll probably want to
employ someone who can get to the job easily. And maybe they’d also make conversation
about where you’ve travelled from. “Oh, where is it you live? Oh, I know that place. My
cousin lives there”, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They… They might also be interested to know
where you’re from, your country. So maybe they’ll do some small talk about where you’re
from as well, whatever that country is. When we come back, we’re going to look at specific
job interview questions, and I’m going to break it down for you, and give you phrases
and grammar tips so that you know what to say in different parts of your interview. Let’s have a look at some common interview
questions, and I’ll give you some phrases, and we’ll mention grammar, where necessary.
So, a common interview question is when they say: “Tell me about your experience.” Here,
they want you to summarize what you’ve been doing. And I’m going to give you some tips for
that, because if you just start summarizing your experience, and you start with your first
job ever, and then you go forward, sometimes, this has happened before, the interviewer
will say: “Okay, that’s enough.” So, stop. So, you’ve just told them about all the stuff
that happened ages ago, which isn’t relevant to the job, so you’ve really missed out on
your opportunity to sell yourself, there. So what you should do is you should mention
your most relevant experience first, that’s usually your most recent job, and then go backwards.
So, start with the most recent job, and then go backwards. And what’s also
helpful to do is… Maybe you don’t want to talk about all your jobs. You
could say something like: “I want to tell you about my
two most recent positions.” So when you say that at the beginning
of your answer, the interviewer knows: “Oh, how long do I have to listen for,
and what am I to expect, here?” Because if you just sometimes start talking, start talking,
start talking, they, again, might cut short your answer because they don’t know how much
you’re going to talk about. And this is a way to make sure that you
say what you need to say. You say what’s going to make you look good. Use this question to sell yourself. Tell them
about what have you’ve done in your experience or your education that fits the job, so don’t
talk about things that aren’t relevant. Mention your achievements as well, so that means:
What successes did you actually have in those jobs? Make sure that they know about it. You
can mention figures, how much money, how many, how big the teams were, things like that.
So really try to paint a picture and tell a story of what you did, because the interviewer’s
just not going to know unless you tell them and make it easy for them. Here… Here’s a big gap, but under the
gap, here’s a phrase. You could say: “I currently work as…” You could also use the
continuous: “I’m currently working as…” blah, blah, blah, your job. And you can go into talk about your job.
If you’re talking about a past job, you could say: “From 2005 to 2009, I worked
as a technician at”-blah, blah, blah-“place”. And then you can talk more about the job. Or,
you could use a present perfect, if it’s a job that you’re still in now.
So you could say: “I’ve been working as an engineer for company for three years.
Let me tell you more about that job.” So moving on from summarizing your experience,
another common interview question is where they ask you to imagine a situation, situation
that might happen in the job at… At the place. You don’t work there yet, but they
just want to know what you would do in this situation. So, let’s say you want to apply
for a job in a… In a store, in a retailer. They might say: “Tell me about how you would deal
with a customer complaint. Customer complaint. What would you do in this situation?” So you
need to imagine that situation, and the grammar you need to use is “would”, hypothetical “would”.
That shows that you’re using your imagination. So you could say… Keep moving. “First of
all, I would apologize to the customer”, and then you can continue to tell us more about
what you would do in the situation. “Would” shows that you’re talking about that hypothetical situation.
It’s not a real situation; it’s one that you’re imagining in your head. Or, maybe you want to talk about something from
your personal experience. I also recommend this. So you could say: “Let me tell you about…
Let me tell you about a time when I successfully dealt with a customer complaint. It happened
because the customer bought… Bought a jumper, and the jumper had a hole in it, and when she
came back, she was… She was very angry and emotional, because there was a hole in her jumper.
So first of all, I apologized to the customer, and I said: ‘I’ll do whatever I can.
Let me see if we’ve got another jumper in your size.’ I went to find the jumper,
and the customer was very, very happy. And to my surprise, she wrote a thank you letter
and sent it to the store after, because she said I dealt with her in her distress very
well.” So things like that, you know? Showing how you do a little bit extra in your job,
and showing how amazing you are, basically, when you tell stories. So when we come back,
we’re going to look at more common interview questions. And again, I’ll give you some phrases,
and I’ll give you the grammar that you need to use to answer these questions. Okay, next we’re going to talk about that
interview question that everybody knows about, and it’s always asked, but nobody really knows
how to answer. Talking about your strengths and your weaknesses, or maybe your strength and your weakness.
That’s something for perfectionists to be aware of, because when I’ve worked for
people before and doing interview practice and I asked this question, the perfectionist
will just start with, you know, one weakness. “Oh, I’m not very good at,” you know, this.
But then they’ll give, like, they’ll just keep going. They’ll try to give two or three
other weaknesses, when the point is: just say one. Okay? Don’t tell them more than you need to.
And, yeah, somebody who’s not a perfectionist, who probably doesn’t analyze themselves very
deeply, is a person likely to give a better answer to this question, because they don’t
really think that they’re that bad at anything, and this is a much better interview technique
to have, because you really should be selling yourself rather than saying
what’s bad about you. So anyway, the secret of answering this question
is to mention a “learning”. And some of you might not like this word, because it’s not
yet a real word in English, but people are using it. And what I mean by it is: When you’re
telling your answer about what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at, make sure
that you involve an example of what you’ve learnt. If you’re going to say that something’s
bad about yourself, make sure that you convey that you’ve changed that already, or you’ve
learnt from the… From your past mistakes, and that makes it a good answer. You can’t just learn an answer to this question,
because it really depends on the job that you’re applying for. So let’s imagine that
you are applying for a job, something to do with events. Okay? Because when you work in
events, there’s a lot of planning involved, okay, but there’s also a lot of unpredictable
things that happen. So, this could be a good answer for that kind of job: “I make
a lot of plans and lists.” Planning. “But often, the plan goes out the
window, and I think on my feet.” If something goes out the window, that’s an idiom for you don’t… You don’t
follow the plan anymore. You forget about the plan. And when you think on your feet,
you’re improvising; you’re doing something without… Without having prepared for it. So
that’s a good answer for that kind of job, but it wouldn’t be appropriate
for a lot of other jobs. Yep. What about…? What about this one, then: “I used to check and double check
the work of my staff obsessively. As I climbed the career ladder, I’ve had to
learn to trust others to do their jobs.” So, this could be an answer for
a manger or someone like that, someone who has a real eye for detail and
really, really cares about things being done well. But someone who also knows that there’s just
not enough hours in the day to do everything, so I need to also trust my staff to do their things.
That’s potentially a good answer for you, if you’re in a similar situation. Yeah, so just remember that although you need
to reveal something that’s not so good about yourself, in this case, maybe it’s not good
that you don’t follow your lists, but it is good because in a job like planning events,
you can’t always follow the plan, because life’s not like that. You’ll be given unexpected
situations sometimes. And also, if you’re… If you’re a manager, perhaps that’s a good
thing that you’ve overcome being obsessive, but were you obsessive about the right things?
Well, you were making sure that the job was done well, so maybe
that’s a good thing, too. Moving on. You’ll often get asked in the interview:
“So, why do you want to work for us?” When you get this question, it’s a really good idea
to not just talk about the company. You’re drawn to that brand or that
company, like for example: “Oh, I really want to work at
Google or Microsoft, because…” Say more than just about the
company, where you show what you know about the company. You should
talk about the actual position, the job that you’d be doing. You need to show that as well
as being interested in the company, you would actually like to do that job. So
here are some phrases you could use: “I see myself as…”, “I want to work here because I
see myself as an events manager in the bar industry, and I really like your bar concept”,
for example. Or you could say: “It’s my ambition to be a manager in a corporation
like this, a global corporation like this one.” Or you could say: “I’ve always been really interested in marketing,
and what I know about your company, I’m really interested in the new approaches you have for
marketing.” So you could use any of these phrases and make it your own. What I also want to talk about now is when
I’m doing interview training with people, sometimes their language is revealing doubt,
self-doubt in their answers, and they’re not even aware. It’s not about them being able
to speak English correctly, but they’re just speaking in a hesitant way, which I don’t
think is good for a job interview answer. So let me show you what I mean. If you’re…
If you’re answering the question: “Why do you want to work for us?” A
good, strong, active response is: “I want to work here because…” When you say “want” you’re certain, and it has…
Yeah, it just has a degree of forcefulness to it. If you say: “I would like… I would
like to work here because…” that’s a bit soft. It’s not so… It’s not so… It’s not somebody who…
Yeah, okay, it’s polite English, but it’s not so… It’s not so confident.
And I think that’s what job interviews are about, most of the time: showing how
confident and how great we are. A similar example: Why…? Oh, it’s not really
related to the question. When talking about yourself, you could say: “I’m good at marketing, because I’m really good with people,
and I can manage to persuade them to join my ideas.” But if you say: “I feel I’m
good at marketing, because”, blah, blah, blah, same answer, the extra
verb can give it a little… I’ll cross it out. Can give it a feeling of… Of less
certainty, there. So the extra verb’s not helpful. You feel that you’re good at that,
but maybe other people don’t agree, so it’s better not to say it at all. And what about this: -“Why do you want to work
for us?” -“I always wanted to be a software engineer, because”, blah, blah, blah, blah,
is much better than… Oh, this is the wrong example. Always try… Okay, let me give you
a different example. You’re talking about your job. If you say: “When I’m at work, I
always try to do my best.” You try to. Sometimes you fail. Sometimes you’re not very good. You
try to do your best, but we’re all human; we make mistakes sometimes, so “try to” is not good.
In fact, using “try” anywhere in the interview-I’m going to make a big claim
here-is just not a good word for interviews. “Try to”. So, if you’re going to say something
about yourself, make it a bold, bold statement: “When I’m at work, I always do my best.” You’re
strong and you’re confident now. So, in the last part of the lesson, we’re just going to
look at the… The final part that always comes up in job interviews. Okay, so number five, you get this at the
end of your job interview. You need to ask a question about the job or the company, so you
should prepare this before. Some personality types are people who always have lots of questions:
“I want to know this, I want to know this, I want to know this, I want to know this”, all in detail.
And then other personality types, more like me, just kind of prefer to
find out when it happens, maybe with a job it’s a little bit more important, sometimes
you want to know the salary or whatever. But just, generally, maybe I don’t always have
questions; I’ll find out when it happens. But it is true that people expect you to have a question.
The interviewer will expect you to have a question, and they tend to think
that if you don’t ask a question, that you’re not really that interested in it, which, you
know, is probably not true. You did go there for the interview. So, I really strongly suggest
that you prepare something to say, so that when you get to that part of the
interview, you have a question. So, you could say: “Does the salary come with
any perks or bonuses?” These are, you know, extra things not to do with the job. “Perks”
could be something like a gym membership, something like that. A “bonus” could be if
you reach certain targets when you’re doing your job, you’ll be awarded financially if you do well.
So this, asking this kind of question shows that you care about the money: “Tell me.
Tell me about the money.” That’s not a bad thing. If you go to the interview
and don’t say anything about the money, and they don’t tell you how much it is, maybe
you seem a little bit desperate, and you’ll take any job. So it’s not
good to be desperate, either. Here’s another question: “What’s the working
culture of the company like?” Perhaps you’re interested to know: Do people socialize together?
What’s the…? What’s the mood of the company? And this… This is a good question to ask if
you haven’t managed to get a sense of that yet, because, you know, it’s supposed to be-isn’t
always like this-but an interview is a two-way process, because remember you are deciding
whether you want to work there, too. Maybe not so much sometimes now, but that’s the way
it used to be, and that’s the way it could be sometimes. So, yeah. You could
ask that kind of question. Or how about this? I think this kind of question
is quite clever, because the question isn’t about the actual job or how it’s going to be,
or blah, blah, blah. This kind of question could potentially start an interesting conversation
for you, if you’re actually interested in the industry, or the company, or the area.
And you might be the only kind… The only person asking this kind of question out of all the…
All the people they interview. So you could say: “Hmm. Yes, thanks for inviting
me to interview, but how do you see social media developing in the next five years?”
Stroking your beard. Because, you know, this shows that maybe you’re just interested more
generally in the field, or the area, or the industry that you are hoping
to work in in the future. So, what you can do now is apply all this knowledge
on the engVid website by doing the quiz. I’d also like you to subscribe to me here
on this channel. Also, my private channel, my personal channel… Private channel? Personal channel.
I’ve got two… Two, not four. I’ve got two channels, so I’d really appreciate you
to subscribe to me. And I’m finished now, so good luck in your interviews. And when you
do get that job, come back here and leave little comments to say how much these little
phrases and top tips for you have helped you. And come and see me again.
Okay, bye-bye. Bye!