Job Vacancy: Good Level of English Required
Juan, a student that I had taught for two years called me.
“I’ve got a job interview.”
“Congratulations,“ I said.
“The problem is I need a good level of English.”
Many students are not confident about their abilities. I believe encouragement is super important.
“Your English is fine. You can maintain a conversation with me without any major problems.”
Juan was still worried. “You also need work experience and they are going to be interviewing two hundred people!”
Remember I said encouragement is super important? “Ok, so we need to demonstrate to them the qualities that make you special compared to all the others. No problem!”
Apart from teaching English, I also help students prepare for job interviews. It is not enough to practice speaking. We have to prepare the best possible answers to common questions.
Juan had studied law. Unfortunately, when he finished his degree, the economic crisis of 2008 had hit Spain hard. He had never worked in his field of Labour Law. Most of the jobs he had done were in bars and restaurants, working long hours for very little money. He could not afford to pay rent on an apartment for himself, so, at thirty four years of age, he was still living with his parents. His girlfriend, tired of waiting for things to get better so that they could get married, left him.
I firstly had to convince him that his level of English shouldn’t have to be a big problem. Flexibility in speaking is important. To have a complete vocabulary similar to a native speaker is almost impossible – that requires years of study, so we have to be prepared to use the words that we do have. This means finding alternative words, or describing the thing that we want to say. Often the best way is to keep it simple. We think of the perfect word in our own language and want to translate it directly. That is not always possible and using a simpler form might not sound fantastic, but it means that we can to continue to communicate. The moment you stop talking because you’re worried about grammar or the words not being perfect, you have lost the opportunity of possibly getting the job.
We also need to prepare answers to the most common questions. When we have written our answers, we should practice saying them, so that we can repeat them easily, without having to worry about vocabulary and grammar. This will also give us confidence and help us to relax – we will already be nervous enough with the interview!
You need to understand the idea of an interview. The employer has seen your curriculum, so they know about your education, training and experience. If they have called you in for an interview, you must have passed the basic requirements. They now want to speak to you, to see what you are like as a person. You have to show that you are interested in the job, motivated, someone that they would like to work with and above all, special compared to the others being interviewed.
The best way of standing out as being special, is to give convincing answers. Everybody says they are hardworking and a team member. If you don’t give real examples from your work experience, it doesn’t sound very believable. If you say that you have been the manager in charge of twenty staff, it gives you credibility.
What makes Juan special is that he is a people person – someone who can talk to anybody and get their cooperation. But he needed a good example.
He told the story of a very angry client who came into the insurance company he worked for. He listened carefully to the man’s complaint and took responsibility for finding a solution. In the end, not only did he find a solution, but also one that was better suited to the client. Instead of losing a customer, he turned him into a happier, more loyal one. Not only that, the company was happy, because he invested much more money with them.
A week after the interview, he called me. Out of two hundred people he got the job! I was so happy for him, because not only was it finally working in law, with the enormously better wages it would completely change his life.
From Simón Wheeler (https://www.italki.com/teacher/1667154)