Interview Tips for ESL Students

After hours of sending job applications and writing the perfect resume, you will eventually be invited for an interview for the position of a job you have always wanted. As time goes by, the day for the interview is coming close, and these questions come into mind:

  • “What should I wear for the interview?”
  • “How will I answer?”
  • “Will I succeed in the interview?”

With these three questions—among many others—are probably what will prompt you into looking for interview tips. However, interviews pose a unique set of challenges for any ESL student that needs to be addressed. As such, we gathered a set of interview tips for ESL students to help them ace the interview and get the job of their dreams.

What is an interview?

An interview is where someone, the interviewer, asks you a series of questions with the hopes of (a) getting to know you more and (b) your background, skills, and capabilities. A common example can be found while applying for a job. When a company is interested in a particular applicant, it invites him or her to a job interview, where they try to acquire more information about the applicant, what he or she can do for the company (depending on the position), and whether he or she is the perfect candidate for the job.

Numerous factors are considered in the success of an interview. One of the most important ones is the way the applicant communicates and presents himself. Someone can have an excellent background and still underperform in an interview if he does not communicate well. Communication skills are highly valued in companies—especially big-time corporations. This is because a company is composed of a group of people working toward shared goals. To succeed in that, each of its members must be able to communicate with each other well.

With that said, it is clear that a lot of lists of interview tips will include being able to communicate well. What some of those interview tips do not consider, however, are a couple of things concerning the English language in society—namely, job interviews and the ESL student. It is for this reason why it is necessary that there should be a list of interview tips for ESL students in particular.

Challenges for ESL Students during Interviews

Challenges for ESL Students

Nowadays, especially for major companies and industries, the most commonly used language in every interview conducted is English. Approximately 20% of the world’s population speak English, and it is considered a primary language for over 50 countries. As such, English is the most widespread, widely used language in the world, but it is not a language that everyone speaks.

For the ESL student, this can pose a notable set of challenges:

  1. The main challenge for any ESL student: to succeed in an interview that is not something you are familiar with. It is difficult to speak your mind when you do not know the words to express it—what more if you are not completely proficient and comfortable with an entire language?
  2. You will be expected to know how to speak English well, or at least communicate effectively. Without such ability, you may be prone to speaking the right ideas with the wrong words, which is fatal in an interview. Lastly, the proficiency to fluently communicate in English will always be expected.
  3. There is a large chance that your interviewers will speak English fluently. It can be nerve-wracking to try to speak another language to someone who is very proficient in that language.

In short, the challenge for the ESL student with job interviews is trying to cope with the expectation of speaking English fluently. It can be a very difficult task to some, but with the help of some interview tips and enough hard work, achieving success in a job interview will become a lot easier.

Because we want you to succeed, whether you are a native English speaker or an ESL speaker, here are some interview tips for ESL students, with the theme of surmounting the hurdle of speaking English well.

• Practice in front of a mirror

What starts this list of interview tips for ESL students is something simple: get a text material—it can be digital or physical—stand in front of a mirror, then read out the words on the material as clearly as possible. You do not need to be fast; you just have to be clear. When you are done with the material, you can either read the same material or a new one.

What you are doing here is practicing your eloquence, ability to pronounce words correctly, and intonation. The last two factors are also important in fluent English speaking; you can have a large vocabulary, but the wrong way of saying a lot of the words.

If you want a material that will help you start out on this tip, you can use this speech example.

• Communicate with others using English more often

Employers could care less whether or not English is your second language—what they want to know is if you can communicate it well, which they will find out in the job interview. In this case, you have to show the company that communicating in English is something that is natural to you, something that you can do with ease or perhaps that you enjoy using. Interviewers would feel relieved to know that you can speak English quite well. This is one of the interview tips that you should definitely pay close attention to.

In order for you to do that, you must try to speak English more often when you engage in conversations with other people. Just as we have muscle memory in how we move in a specific task, we also have some sort of memory and conditioning for language. At first, it will require a lot of attention and effort. But after a long enough time of focus, you will be doing it as if it has always been a part of you to do it. Eventually, you would notice that the initial stuttering and pauses to think about what to say next will be minimized. This will translate very well in the interview itself.

Again, among our list of interview tips for ESL students, this is something that will help you greatly if you practice it a lot. For best effect, check out our ESL tips to master conversational English.

• Watch videos of native English speakers

When you communicate with native English speakers, you will eventually realize that you would want to learn how to speak English from how they do it. After all, there is no better way to learn the language than those who have been speaking it since birth. Doing this is simple: watch videos that have native English speakers talking in them, and learn the way they speak common words, sentences, and statements. After that, try to incorporate them into your own way of speaking. We suggest watching some YouTube channels for college students. Not only will you learn mannerisms of speech; you will also learn some important information that would help you in class.

Among the other interview tips in this list, this one in particular has both a strength and a weakness. This tip’s strength lies in how it allows you to choose which videos to watch. Being able to control what kinds of videos with native English speakers you watch allows you to also set the pace and difficulty for yourself to learn such mannerisms. Plus, it also allows you the ability to play the video back in case that you miss out some mannerisms.

While watching the videos, you might experience the people saying some things that do not directly make much sense. There is a chance that you just heard an idiom or a figure of speech. To help you out, here is a short guide on idioms for English language learners.

On the other hand, you cannot directly interact with the people in the video—and communication requires you to speak to another person face-to-face. As such, it cannot directly help you learn communication skills. Again, this is more of helping you learn speaking mannerisms. As said earlier, it would benefit you best to apply what you learn from the videos.

• Learn how to answer common interview questions

We established that interviews are some form of conversation. However, it is a formal kind of conversation, one that follows some structure. The aim of interviews is to extract additional data that were not mentioned or specified in your cover letter or resume. Hence, there will be common questions that are often asked in every interview, no matter the company. 

These questions can be searched online or asked about from your peers. For quick reference, click here to know the common interview questions and how to nail them. The most important part, however, is knowing how to respond to them properly. Secretly, companies are looking for a specific answer to each question, as your response indicates whether or not you possess a characteristic that they are looking for. 

Certainly, this tips goes both ways, whether you are a Native English speaker or an ESL speaker. However, for ESL speakers, this tip requires some additional attention, as it involves knowing the essence of the questions and how to respond to them in a professional and pleasing manner.

• Have a mock interview with a friend

This is, perhaps, one of the most obvious of the interview tips: what better way is there to practice for the interview than to practice with an interview? After all, it is what you are preparing for in the first place. A mock interview allows you to mentally prepare yourself not only for possible questions but also the environment of an interview. 

The difference between talking casually with someone and talking to a potential employer in an interview is enormous. The latter case can spell the difference between you getting a job or not. Naturally, you would feel nervous. Regardless if you are an ESL student or a native English speaker, there is a possibility that you will stutter and not be able to think clearly on what to say. A mock interview will allow you to prepare mentally for this particular challenge, strengthening and preparing you on how to respond to particular questions with eloquence. And since “practice makes perfect,” practicing with a mock interview is definitely one of the most helpful interview tips that you can receive.

As an interview requires at least two people—you, the interviewee, and the interviewers—it is best that you ask the help of a friend or two to conduct a mock interview. Try to make it resemble an actual interview as much as possible by asking your friends to tackle common interview questions and possible questions and concerns. We advise asking numerous friends to do mock interviews for you for best effect, since each of them may have a different approach on asking, just as each potential employer has a different approach on interviewing.

• Relax

Just thinking about the idea of being interviewed can already get people nervous. It is natural to feel this way, as the job interview can lead you to being successful in finding your career path, so this is a chance that you do not want to mess up. We assure you that the interview tips above will help you greatly. However, the one thing that you should always keep in mind is this: do not stress yourself out so much and relax.

If you allow yourself to be bothered by stress, you will stutter and be unable to know how to respond properly to the interviewer’s questions. Eloquence is of vital importance in an interview, and you cannot be eloquent if you are stressed. Hence, it would be best that you relax before the interview.

Outside of practical reasons, relaxation in connection to interviews is vital for your growth. It is not always sure that you will succeed in a job interview. If you fail it, you might become even more stressed and sad as you think that you are not good enough. This is on top of the pressure of dealing with school requirements such as writing narrative essays and term papers. On the other hand, if you relax as much as you can all throughout the process, you will see the failure as a way of growth and to keep moving forward. Job interviews in large companies, nowadays, can be very hard for the ESL student who have to learn how to speak a different language fluently. Failure is very much possible—it is only a matter of how you react to it. This is the most important out of all the interview tips here. Your mental health is key here, regardless if you are an ESL student or a native English speaker.

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We hope that our list of interview tips for ESL students is helpful. Regardless if you are a native English-speaking student or an ESL student, interviews can be nerve-wracking. It requires excellent communication and persuasion skills, testing you to the limit in convincing the employer that you are the perfect candidate for the job. Meanwhile, you might also be busy with numerous school works alongside the job interview. If you are an ESL student wanting to focus more on your interviews, you can leave the papers to us. We at CustomEssayMeister are devoted to helping many students like you in striving at life. You do not have to be stressed out with the piles of schoolwork that you have to deal with at the end of each day—leave it to our writing experts, who will not only take care of it for you as you prepare for your job interview, but also get you top marks across the board. You can rest assured with us, as thousands of ESL students had over our decade of excellent service. Enlist our aid now and focus on acing your interview to the job of your dreams!