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
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:
your audience what they really want.
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
Correct for your own
negative bias. This is especially important
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.
challenge isn’t linguistic, it’s about communication.
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
How they feel
about you will depend on how you feel about
If you feel your self-confidence is going to take a
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.