Real Advice for Getting a Job
Job interviews are difficult even when you have to do them in your native language. The idea of having to do a job interview in English takes this stress to another level. Additionally, the hiring process can be different than what you are used to in English-speaking countries like the USA, Canada or the UK.
To find out what employers are really thinking when they are hiring and to give you the best advice, I decided to call my friend Greg who has a lot of experience hiring people for his own business and has many job interview tips. He has hired dozens of English teachers for the private Skype lessons they provide at Online Language Academy.
In this article, you will learn the typical mistakes people make while applying, how to act during the interview and tips for feeling less nervous!
This is a long article so I have created some links that will help you find the information you are most interested in. Don’t forget to watch the video with Greg and Amy discussing our best job interview tips!
How to Get a Job Interview
You might be surprised to find out that you have been making several mistakes while applying for jobs that are causing you to have fewer interviews than you are expecting. These mistakes aren’t obvious until they are mentioned to you or if you think about the process from an employer’s perspective.
Job Application Tip #1 – Think like an Employer
Imagine that you are an employer. You are someone who is very busy all the time trying to run your business. When you realize that you need to hire someone new, it’s another task that you need to fit into your day. When you are reviewing applications… you don’t have a lot of time.
As a job applicant, what can you do to make sure that your resume stands out? What does your resume need to have to make sure that even the busiest business person pays attention to your job application?
Job Application Tip #2 – Resumes Aren’t Reviewed in Detail
Even though you have spent a lot of time carefully preparing your resume (or CV), it is very unlikely that the person receiving your resume is going to read every single detail. The problem is that most employers receive hundreds of resumes when they post an ad with a job opportunity.
At this stage, employers are looking for reasons to eliminate applications because they simply do not have time to review every application in detail. Spelling mistakes and resumes that look boring or hard to read are immediately eliminated, even if you are the perfect candidate for the job position.
Applying for Jobs Tip #3 – You Have to Stand Out
Now you can see why it is REALLY important that your resume and application stands out from the rest.
If you are applying by email, try to use the name of the person receiving the application and mention the most important details that you think will make you stand out.
For example, including a link to a short video you created specifically for the job application introducing yourself or providing a link to a personal website you created can make your application different than everyone else.
Job Application Tip #4 – Don’t Send a Plain Document
No one likes to read plain text documents that feel like they are crammed with too much information. It makes it difficult to scan for relevant information. A boring black and white text document is not something that is appealing to read and it is not competitive with a more visually appealing resume.
Be sure that you use nice headings that make it easy to read and find the information they are looking for and include some color to try to bring some life to your resume and make it more interesting.
Job Tip #5 – Digital Resumes Have Changed the Game
As technology continues to improve, it is also allowing people to create beautiful digital resumes. If you are sending your applications by email, a visually appealing digital resume will help to make sure that it is read from start to finish.
In the next few years, having a digital resume, a personal website and links to everything will be expected. For now, having a beautiful digital resume will help you to stand out.
Job Application Tip #6 – Your resume can show you care
When you put some extra effort into creating your resume and making sure that you have modified each resume for the specific job you are applying for, it will show the employer you really care about getting the job and you took the time to personalize it for that specific company.
Applying for a Job Tip #7 – Create a Personal Website
It might seem like a lot of work to create a website about you and your work experience, but there are some really nice advantages to doing this.
On your website, you can explain your experience using more detail than you can on a one or two-page resume. Additionally, you can add pictures and make it an interactive experience.
Applying for a Job Tip #8 – Create a Short Video about You
Creating a video is something you can do for free and it can really help to make you stand out and make a good first impression. Using your computer webcam or even a cell phone, you can create a short video introducing yourself and talking about some of your skills. 1 to 2 minutes is usually the perfect length.
Be sure to appear professional, show your personality, record in a quiet room and have good lighting so that the video looks and sounds good. If you are using a cell phone, be sure that someone else is recording you and that the camera is still. A shaky video will not appear professional.
Getting an Interview Tip #9 – Pay Attention to the Application Requirements
Each employer will ask you to submit certain information when applying for a job. If they ask you to submit a cover letter, send a voicemail or an email… be sure to do everything they have asked.
If you don’t send all the information that they have asked you to send, it shows them that you cannot follow instructions and you will definitely not be called for an interview. Remember, they are looking for reasons to eliminate applicants wherever they can.
Job Application Tip #10 – How to Make an Impression Before the Interview
Surprise the employer by creating a video for the specific job position that you apply for to introduce yourself and greet them. You should mention a bit about the company, the job position and the one or two points that show you are a good candidate.
An employer will see that you took the time to create a video just for them. It shows you are serious about the job and willing to go beyond what is expected.
This is a great way to make a good first impression and they can see who you are. This detail alone can help you to get a job interview. You can’t make the same impression with a resume or a text document as you can with a personalized video.
Job Application Tip # 11 – Personalize Your Resume to Each Company
Most resumes start with an objective or a statement about their purpose for submitting the application. This is the first thing the employer will read. It is important that you change this short statement for the specific job you are applying for and to include the company name.
If you do not modify this statement, it will appear as if you are applying to many different companies and that you are too lazy to update it for the specific job you are applying for.
Job Application Advice # 12 – Don’t send an Empty Email
Take the time to write a short greeting when you send an email with your attached resume. You can explain a few important points, provide links to your personal website or the short video you recorded and mention the attached resume too.
Job Application Advice #13 – Don’t Bulk Send Emails
There is nothing worse than receiving a job application email that has been sent to your company and… you can see the exact same email application was sent to 20 other companies!
This shows the employer that you don’t care who you work for. You are simply sending out as many job applications as you can. You have no interest in working specifically for them.
Top Advice and Job Interview Tips
You have finally been called in for a job interview thanks to all those awesome strategies you used during the application process. Now, you can be better prepared to perform well in the interview by practicing and thinking about these job interview tips by knowing exactly what the employer is thinking.
Job Interview Tip #14 – Show Your Personality
Employers want to see your personality to help them decide if they think you will be a good fit with their other employees and the job position that you are being hired for.
I know it can be hard to ‘be yourself’ when you are nervous in a job interview, but it is important to let your personality show. If you are behaving in a different way than you normally do, the employer might feel like you are hiding something or that they cannot determine if you will be the right person for the job.
Online Job Interview Tip #15: Always Appear Professional
Treat an interview that you have online (through Skype for example) the same way that you would treat an interview in person.
Dress nicely, style your hair and choose a professional looking background that looks clean and tidy. Make sure that you use a microphone or headset to ensure you will be heard clearly, test your microphone and headphones before the call too.
Online Job Interview Tip #16 – Remove Distractions
Someone walking around in the background of your video is unprofessional and distracting. Be sure to tell other people to stay out of the room during your interview.
If you have pets be sure to put them in another room so they do not cause any interruptions either.
Job Interview Advice #17 – Be prepared and Organized
Think about everything that you might need to have during your interview and have it ready to access.
For example, if you need to drive to an interview, make sure you have gas in the car and change for the parking meter. If your interview is online, you should plug in your laptop and have your microphone and headphones ready to use.
Tips for Your Interview #18 – Questions that Reveal More than you Think
Employers choose their questions carefully to see the reactions and answer of the interview candidate. There can be hundreds of different responses to one question.
You might hear a simple question in a job interview that seems too easy to answer. Try to consider why they are asking you the question. They might be giving you an opportunity to explain more about yourself or to talk about your experience.
Job Interview Questions #19 – The Most Important Questions
The first question and the last question are the most important questions in the interview. The first question allows you to make a good first impression. The last question will be what the interviewer will remember the most.
Job Interview Question Tip #20 – Research the Company
Most interviewers will ask you: What you know about this company?
Do some research before the interview and make sure that you know some specific information and what makes them special. If it is a small company, it can be helpful to know about the person that is doing the interview as well especially if it is the owner.
If you do not know any details about the company it will show that you have not taken the time to look at their website, learn about their company and that you are not very interested in this particular job.
On the contrary, if took the time to research the website, their social media sites and some recent blog posts, it shows you care.
Interview Questions Tip #21 – Do you have any questions?
This is another sneaky question that can seem simple. This is actually an opportunity for you to ask a question that can allow you to explain something special that you can offer or contribute to the company.
For example, if you have had experience with social media marketing but you are applying for a sales position, you can ask them if they are using social media to attract new leads. Once they finish answering your question, you can tell a story about how you helped a previous employer to increase sales through the work you did.
Interview Questions Tip #22 – What type of person are they looking for?
At the end of the interview you might hear, “Do you have any questions?”
You can respond with, “What type of person are you hoping to hire for this position?”
The employer will describe the qualities and skills they are looking for and you can verify you are the candidate they are looking for based on their answer.
Job Interview Advice #23 – You want to work for THEM specifically
Try to make the employer feel like you are interested in working for them specifically, not just anybody that will hire you. Give this impression on your resume, the personalized video you create and also during the interview.
Job Interview Tip #24 – Send a Thank You Email
Taking the time to send a ‘thank you’ email will really show that you have good manners and you appreciated the time and the opportunity to meet with the interviewer.
How to Be Less Nervous in Your Interview
This section will give you some advice to help you prepare for your job interview in English to feel less nervous when the interview happens.
Job Interview Tip #25 – The First question
You will feel the most nervous within the first 2 or 3 minutes of the job interview. Luckily, the first questions that you have to answer are very predictable and you can practice answering them ahead of time. By the time you are finished answering the first question, you will already be starting to feel more relaxed.
Job Interview Question Tip #26 – Tell me about yourself
The first two questions that you are likely to hear are:
- Tell me a little bit about yourself
- What do you know about our company
Be sure to practice how you are going to explain this to the employer several times so that it is easy for you to say even if you are nervous. By the time you are finished answering these questions, you will feel less nervous.
Job Interview Advice #27 – Review your resume
It is important to know exactly what is on your resume so that you are ready to answer any questions related to it. Take a few minutes to review your resume in detail.
Job Interview Tip #28 – Practice Explaining Your Experience
Resumes only have a small amount of detail related to your past job experience. You should expect to be asked about certain job positions and the type of experience you have.
Practice explaining each item of your resume in more detail so that you can expand on your experience confidently during the real interview.
Job Interview Advice #29 – Connecting Your Past Experience
Before the interview, think about how each item that you have listed on your resume can be related or helpful to the position you are applying for.
Everything that you have done has taught you something or given you some sort of experience. Think of some stories that help connect that experience as a skill that could be helpful to this job. Practice saying this answer out loud or try this speaking practice technique.
When you tell stories you will feel more relaxed and it will allow you to make a personal connection with the person doing the interview.
Interview Questions Advice #30 – End Every Answer Positively
Be sure to end each of your answers on a positive note. Using your past experience as an asset to keep the answer positive.
Practicing for Your Interview in English
There are some really great ways to practice answering questions for your job interview to really help you feel more confident during the real thing. The first one is my favorite tip!
Interview Preparation Tip #31: Who Makes You Uncomfortable?
When you are in a job interview, it is uncomfortable and stressful. To replicate this uncomfortable feeling, it can help to practice job interview questions with someone that you think will make you feel uncomfortable.
For example, practice some interview questions with a roommate or a neighbor that you don’t know very well.
By the time you have your real interview, you will already have experience practicing your answers in a situation that was much worse!
Interview Preparation Advice #32: Private Lessons to Practice Interviews
There are many English teachers that can help you to prepare for your interview and help you to practice answering job interview questions. The teachers at Online Language Academy are experts in helping you to provide better answers in your job interview and give you the confidence you need to answer the most common questions.
Interview Preparation Tip # 33: Different Accents or Ways of Speaking
Each person has a different way of speaking and you will have no idea what type of accent they speak with. It can be very helpful to practice speaking with native speakers that have different accents. Additionally, each person will speak in a different way.
Summary for this Job Interview Advice
These tips really are some of the best advice to help you stand out from the rest of the applicants and to be called for an interview.
As you can see, applying for the job is almost more important than the actual job interview. If you don’t apply for the job correctly, you won’t be called for any interviews!
Don’t be afraid to use technology as a tool to make you look better than the rest and to personalize your job application to really be something special that can’t be ignored by any employer.
Share this article with someone you know that is looking for a job. The advice here is helpful for ESL job applicants but also native speakers.
Leave us a comment below if you found this helpful 🙂
I remember the first time that I had a language exchange…
I was so nervous! I had no idea what to expect or how the people would be that I was going to be talking with.
About 6 months ago I realized that there are actually fun ways to study a language and I just wanted to share my experience and emotions. After many months of doing activities that were not very fun ways to study, I decided I was ready to start talking with real people, native speakers. I found a free site called conversationexchange.com and created a profile. To my surprise, I received over 50 messages within 3 days from various countries. These people wanted to speak English with me! I added a dozen or so people to my Skype account and started to receive greetings from everyone.
I was quite content to just try chatting with people, text chatting I mean. Although I had committed to this idea of talking to real people, I was definitely putting it off (delaying) as long as I could. For the first few days, I was working quite a bit, so it was easy to tell people I was not available to talk. One night, I was off work early in the evening and I received a message asking if I could practice talking. I didn’t have a good excuse to say no… so I said yes I could talk!
My ability to speak in a foreign language was not very good at that time. I remember being very content to speak English with this Colombian guy on the other end of the call and only saying with a few words of Spanish here and there. Despite the language barrier, I couldn’t believe how interesting the conversation was! This was one of the most fun ways to study a language. I had met a really interesting person, that was very kind, extremely patient and really funny.
I remember the feeling of speaking and listening to the language I was learning. It was so bizarre. It felt like I was testing every word to make sure they were understood by the person I was speaking to. Until now it was only a theory that these words were used and would be understood but I had never tried. So really, I still had a bit of doubt in this way and it actually took a few weeks to gain some confidence.
A few days after my first phone call, I decided to try talking to a different language partner. It was another interesting person who was smart, friendly and easy to talk to. After talking with 4 or 5 different people, I started to realize that most people that are learning languages are really cool people, ambitious and often very well educated. Just the type of people I like to talk to!
Now I recognize that it is absolutely critical that I feel comfortable talking with the person on the other end of the phone, testing out this new language. It is a very delicate thing working with other people that want to learn, having to teach and also being taught. You have to put yourself in a vulnerable situation where you could be emotionally hurt if you are laughed at or made to feel like an idiot.
If you take the time to find the right person to practice learning a language with it will truly become a natural motivator and be a very fun way to learn English. I find myself wanting to learn the language better to be able to communicate my thoughts clearly to my new friends.
I am really grateful to have found a language exchange partner that I feel is a good friend. We help each other so much every day. There are no stupid questions, ever. Some questions are just funnier than others and are more fun to answer with entertaining examples for the answers.
I’d love to hear your most fun ways to study, what it is you enjoy the most. Leave a comment below!
I have been lucky enough to be invited on a podcast radio show to share my experiences learning a foreign language. As many of you know, I am learning Spanish and I was inspired to start this blog to share challenges and obstacles that language learners have. This blog is where I write about my ideas to help motivate you to continue learning a language and share some personal frustrations so that you know, you are not alone with those feelings. Please follow this blog but entering your email address on the right-hand side of the page you haven’t already; It is for anyone learning a language, not just for people learning English.
A few months ago I was looking for motivation to continue learning Spanish and I found an excellent podcast at www.realfastspanish.com. Andrew Barr is not only teaching Spanish on his podcast but he also spends half of the time talking about motivational topics related to learning a language. I have found his podcasts to be extremely helpful and I have supported his podcast since I discovered it in October last year.
Andrew invited me to share my story about learning languages, discuss some challenges I have had and to give some advice to other people who are learning a language. You can listen to the interview here:
Overall, I really enjoyed this interview and I thought that it was really cool to talk to someone who I look up to for inspiration to continue learning a language. Andrew is really interesting and had a lot of great advice that he shared with me over the phone call after the interview. I hope that other people can relate to some of the challenges that I am encountering while learning a language and realize they are not alone with feelings such as being terrified or embarrassed to speak, not understanding anything that you hear from a native speaker or being confused about some grammar things. I still struggle with being confident while speaking in a foreign language; although, I have an exciting progress update!
Right after the interview with Andrew, I started speaking with my friend Adrian from Mexico. He decided that he wanted to dedicate the entire call to speaking in Spanish because I had been helping him a lot with English recently. And… I had a completely Spanish conversation for one hour and 15 minutes! After about 20 minutes of talking my typical nervous feeling went away and had some really great fluidity with my speaking.
I have just reached my big goal of being able to have a conversation for more than 30 minutes in a foreign language! But really, I more than exceeded that goal by talking for 75 minutes! A big thank-you to Adrian for dedicating that call to my progress and to Andrew for inspiring me from his interview.
Thanks for listening. Please tell me what you think about the interview or what you think about my latest accomplishment by leaving a comment below!
Recently, I was talking to a girl I know who decided to start learning a language to be able to travel comfortably later this year. She is studying to be a lawyer at a university already, so she decided to take the language course through the university. The previous week, I had recommended a website where she could find a native speaker to practice with, a service that is free, (www.conversationexchange.com.) This was her response,
“No, not yet. The reason is that I am worried about saying something wrong. I am kind of nervous to try, It’s also very uncomfortable for me to talk to people for the first time especially by Skype. Sometimes when I am in my language class, my professor will ask me a question. Even if I think I know the answer, I don’t want to say it because I think I might be wrong or I think I might have misunderstood the question.”
Where does this negative feeling of being ‘incorrect or wrong’ come from???
Well, I will tell you what I think…
Schools from all around the world use a similar method for teaching groups of people. They present the information to the students, they ask some questions to make sure the students understand, they do some exercises and then they give you a test to evaluate your performance. This is the system I know and see the most often in public schools since, I was a child. Of course, there are exceptions. So what is the problem with the system?
There is only one goal for the student: To try to be correct!
The education system values these ideas: it is bad to make errors, to be incorrect or to not know the answer. If you are not correct, you will receive a penalty such as a lower grades or marks, social humiliation and you will likely feel stupid for not knowing the answers.
We are not born with this knowledge, which is why we are in school or a course. The only way to learn is to make mistakes until you figure out how to do it correctly. This teaching method is accepted and is used because it allows teachers to measure results. The issue with this style of teaching is very clear when you compare learning a subject like math to learning a language. Math requires practicing a method to learn how to find the right answer. Language is creative and there are dozens of ways of expressing the same thought. There is no single answer that is right or wrong, just lots of practice to figure out how to say it better.
Anyone who is learning a language knows that you need to try to use it. What happens is: we make lots of mistakes, ask lots of questions (questions that feel like stupid questions) and we need to be corrected all the time! In order to learn ANYTHING, you need to try you start by taking a few guesses or tries until you find the answer.
I want you to imagine you are in a classroom and the teacher decides to ask you a question. You aren’t sure of the answer. This isn’t your fault because the teacher has not taught you or given an environment where you can safely ask the question. Next, you are forced to respond with either a guess or to announce to the entire class that you do not know the answer. Then you feel like an idiot, you feel stupid, you feel that everyone else in the class must think you are stupid too and of course, the teacher thinks you don’t remember anything they have taught you. This is a perfect example of the social humiliation aspect of being incorrect. If you are correct and you know the answer – you are allowed to skip the penalty for not knowing something new.
Where is the encouragement to try even if you are incorrect? Why is there no system to reward students for trying? The harder you try, the more you should be rewarded. A person who tries all the time, without fear of being embarrassed, receiving poor grades or looking stupid will perform better, they will learn more. They will ask more questions too.
Unfortunately, after going through an educational system that values ‘being correct’ above everything else; we develop a mental attitude that makes us hate the feeling of ‘being incorrect’. It has created an ego inside of us and that ego has one goal: I must be correct so I can be reward by the education system. Making mistakes is an unavoidable part of learning, teachers know this fact but the method of teaching does not create the optimal environment for learning.
I cannot offer any solutions to the problems in the teaching methods I have talked about today, but I hope that by telling you my opinion, you will be aware of your natural desire to be ‘correct’ all the time and where it comes from. Please share your opinion in the comments below and let me know if you like the educational system or if you feel it could be improved.
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