Job Interview – How to answer the question tell me about yourself?

In a job interview, the structure is usually the same, regardless of whether it is in English. It is divided into 3 parts. The first is personal, followed by training and ending with work experience.

We can almost always find this first question:  Tell me about yourself:  Tell me a little about yourself.

Here is a time to tell what is relevant to you in your life, where were you born? Who do you live with? if you have a pet or children? What did you study? What do you like to do in your free time?

Your academic training, the space to tell what you studied? where? why? What languages ​​do you speak ? Likewise, this description of who you are professionally should be complemented with an example from your professional life. Let’s see in detail:

‘I am a person with a high capacity for resilience, willing to take on challenges and work as a team. For example, I am currently leading a team whose mission is to increase the company’s revenue by 30%. Not 4 months have passed and we have already increased sales by more than 15%. However, we have to correct certain issues in order to achieve our goal.’

‘I’m an extremely resilient person, willing to embrace challenges and work in teams’ For example, at this moment I’m leading a team whose mission is to increase the company’s income by 30%. We have increased sales by 15% in the first four months. However, there are some things we need to correct in order to reach our goal’.

Finally your work experience: Let’s look at how to do it. If you want to tell the interviewer that you are a person who helped increase the sales of the company you currently work for, or that you helped the company get through a difficult time, then your answer to this question will have to be based on those achievements. For example, you can describe yourself as a person with a high capacity for resilience, willing to take on challenges and work as a team’.

‘I’m an extremely resilient person, willing to embrace challenges and work in teams’.

5 keys to dominate a job interview in English (no matter what level you have in the language)

The work area does not matter in Job interview. From medicine to technology, the chances of you having an job interview in English are increasing. If you thought it was possible to fly under the radar and build a career without coming face to face with challenges in another language, you must accept that this is a thing of the past. To advance in your career, or simply get a job, keep in mind that sooner or later the dreaded interview in English will arrive, and this should not be an obstacle to your professional growth project.

What happens if you don’t master it? Is it essential to master the language to get a job? Clearly there are industries for which English is a necessity, such is the case of the hotel industry, the tourist services industry or multinationals. But, although it is not a necessity for work, we have information that confirms that the question about command of this language is increasingly recurring in interviews of any kind. So, what can you do to answer the challenge of the interview in English in an adequate way (regardless of your level of the language):

1. Prepare in advance:

Know and practice the 5 classic questions of any job interview. There are plenty of pages on the internet that list the questions you are likely to be asked. But how do you decide which ones to prepare for if you find sites online showing 50, 100, even 300 options? This is an overwhelming panorama.

  • Tell me a little about  yourself
  • How did you hear about this position? (How did you find out about this position?)
  • What do you know about the company? (What do you know about our company?)
  • Why do you want this job? (Why do you want this job?)
  • Why should we hire you?  (Why should we hire you?)

The task you have to do is the following:

First, write the answer in English, making sure to give as much detail as possible.

Second, translate it into English. We recommend that you review it with a friend who knows the language perfectly, or with a teacher. Be careful to trust 100% online translators. Although they are getting better and faster every day, they can take you to dark and dangerous places, with translations that are not adjusted to reality and that can even border on humor due to the double meaning that they often generate.

Finally, the task is to practice these answers until you get tired: write the phonetics, do what you have to do to internalize the message. Do not memorize them because something can make you lose concentration at one point in the interview, make you block, and that’s where your preparation interview ends.

2. Know the company:

Do all the necessary research on the company that is going to interview you, from the portfolio of products that it sells or manufactures, to the name of the general manager. Also investigate everything that has to do with the main competitors of the company in question, what are the most specific commercial challenges; and, incidentally, visualize the solutions that you, as an employee, could propose for these problems.

Read all the material available on the internet or in specialized magazines. If you get information directly in English, the better. Otherwise, the best thing to do may be to explore the vocabulary you have acquired and begin to build sentences in English about the company that is going to interview you. Having these phrases up your sleeve will give you material to defend yourself in the interview, especially when faced with questions such as:

  • What do you know about our company? (What do you know about our company?)
  • What do you know about our competitors? (What do you know about our competitors?)
  • How can you help us solve this problem? (How can you help us solve this problem?)

3. Listen, listen, listen 

One of the most common answers when asked if we speak English is: ‘I understand it but I don’t speak it’.

We all think we understand English since we see it in movies and television series. In fact, this is an advantage that many today have over any candidate who applied for a job 20 years ago. And, let’s say yes, you understand it but you don’t speak it at all. What can you do? How can you prepare yourself so that you don’t get burned out in the interview?

The guideline is clear: try to hear as much English as possible before the big day. Listen to news in English, shows on YouTube, series on Netflix… whatever you need so that the ear is prepared to receive any accent and information. Who removes, suddenly, from hearing it so much, you start talking about it (like most mortals).

There is a great debate among language experts regarding unconscious learning; that is, the one you do without giving your full attention (for example, when you are listening to the news in English while cutting carrots for soup), and not everyone agrees that this is the best way to learn a language. We propose it to our students who hear English all the time, and once a day do a conscious listening exercise. 

4. Prepare your own questions

The objective of the interview is to know everything about you. The company wants to see if you have the skills and qualities they are looking for. However, there is always a moment when they ask you:

Do you have any questions? (Do you have any questions?)

This is the moment of glory in the interview, since you are in control. Basically, you give the floor to whoever is interviewing you and, in this way, you speak less in English. As they say in English: Let the other person do the talking.

But hey, what can you ask?

The key, then, is to have 3-5 questions ready to ask when needed. Examples of questions can be the following:

  • How would you describe the responsibilities of the position? (How would you describe the responsibilities of this position?)
  • How would you describe a typical day in this position?  (What is a typical day like at this company (position)?)
  • Who would be my direct report?  If offered the position, can I meet him or her before making a decision? (Who do I report directly to? If they offer me the job, can I meet them before I make my decision?)

If suddenly the interviewer does not give you the opportunity to ask, then look for that moment. Ask the interviewer:

Can I ask you a question? (Can I ask you a question?)

Better yet, you can ask:

Can I ask you a couple questions? (Can I ask you a couple of questions?)

This gives you the opportunity to use your English with an already established speech (since these questions are in your head). Remember, the ball is on your side.

5. Review your work history

You must know your entire resume in English. At least, knowing perfectly the names of the positions or positions that you had and the main achievements that you achieved. Use action verbs in English, called action verbs, which are those that determine a mental or physical action, and are generally associated with work stories. Examples of these verbs in the past tense are:  organized  (organized),  developed  (developed),  coordinated  (coordinated),  administered ( administered).

Details love:

Remember to also include all the information about your education, including the universities where you studied and the degrees you obtained, the specialization courses you have taken in recent years, and other information that you consider relevant for the interview. Translate it into English and practice it until you can’t anymore. This is information that you control, and it helps convey your professional and educational history with mastery. Try, as much as possible, to find out on the Internet the vocabulary referring to the details that you consider important about each of your work experiences. Did you work in a call center three years ago? That sales experience may be key to the job you’re applying for now. You can’t be parsimonious when you’re selling the best image of yourself.

In conclusion, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. In today’s globalized world, you don’t know when a job interview can turn into a job interview in English. The vast majority of companies are looking for employees who can work anywhere in the world and who are strategic allies in their growth; For this reason, it is increasingly common to find yourself in a process for a local govt jobs or company and to be told that you have an interview in this language, or that the executive vice president (who is in the United States) wants to chat with you personally. So, before you panic and send the process overboard, we recommend you do your homework and prepare yourself with these 5 keys to mastering your job interview in English.

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