Your linguistic skills may be preoccupying, but in an L2 interview, your behaviour, along with the indirect signals, take on even more importance. Below, some of the reasons why, and what this means for your interview strategy.

EN2 18-12-2015  Author: Philip Wells

As a second-language (L2) interview candidate, your short-term options are limited, and improving the general level of your language isn’t one of them. And you may be one of a majority of candidates who suffer from a perceptual bias, which lies in believing that the biggest problem is going to be linguistic. In most cases and conditions, this isn’t the case. So here are five key recommendations for L2 interview candidates:


Give your audience what they really want
. You can gain a lot of time by focusing your energies on the content of your interview answers, which have to address the real purpose of job interviews, which goes well beyond giving a set of “right” answers. Interviews aren’t a form of painting by numbers. And the real questions are about your identity.

Focus on credibility
. Your ability to present a really credible narrative in terms of experience and personal qualities depends on the correct selection of career events and your behavior during the interview. The two have to be consistent.

Correct for
your own negative bias.
This is especially important
in selecting the career
events or personal qualities you consider important. Your judgement may be correct, but then again it may not. There is nothing to lose and a great deal to gain in bringing another person into the process.

The challenge isn’t linguistic, it’s about communication
. If you’re faced with what you think will be a severe linguistic challenge, you work smart by first looking at the content of your answers, and optimizing their presentation afterwards. There are ways to improve linguistic performance over the short-term, and to correct its effects on self-confidence. And think about communication broadly, because it goes well beyond the content of your sentences.

How they feel about you will depend on how you feel about yourself. If you feel your self-confidence is going to take a hit, make it a conscious decision to visualize yourself in your potential roles in the new job, and those it may develop into. Your aspiration to this job means that these roles are part of your identity, and your freedom to develop professionally. Explore the likely challenges you’ll have to face, and how you will address these, so that this inner identity becomes part of your interview performance.
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