Hello and welcome back to the Skills 360 podcast. I’m your host, Tim Simmons, and today, I want to finish up our series on English interview skills.
In previous lessons, we’ve gone over some of the fundamental questions about who you are and what you’ve done. Today, I want to take a closer look at talking about your career goals and researching prospective employers. Interviewers don’t just want to know whether you’ve got the skills, personality, and qualifications. They also want to know that you’re a good fit, and that they are a good fit for you.
One important question you need to be ready for in an interview in English is “why are you leaving your current position?” This question makes a lot of people squirm. But it’s actually an opportunity to talk about growth and change. Nobody stays at the same job their entire life. And this question isn’t necessarily fishing for problems in your past.
What kinds of things can you talk about as reasons for change? You might mention several desires, such as the desire to learn, to take on more responsibility, to enhance certain skills, to relocate, to adjust your work-life balance. All these are great reasons to change. Of course, if you were laid off, you need to be candid about that. I’m not suggesting you lie. Just that you keep your answer future-focused. And that means not badmouthing your current boss, colleagues, or workplace.
Talking about why you’re leaving your current job will segue naturally to answering questions about why you want this job. And the key here is showing knowledge, suitability, and value. By knowledge, I mean you know something about the company, its products, its reputation, its culture, and its values. By suitability, I mean that you jibe with the company and the job fits with your career goals. And by value, I mean that your skills and experience will help you make a real contribution.
Speaking of career goals, another common but tough question during a job interview is “where do you see yourself in five years?” With most interview questions, I advise people to be specific. But not this one. It’s okay to state very generally what your aspirations are. For example, you might say “I’d really like to be involved with the strategic side of things” or “I’d like to be taking on more management responsibilities.”
Whatever your answer, it should be possible to achieve within the company where you’re applying. They’re going to sink time, money, and resources into you. They want to know it will pay off for them, not just you. So, perhaps the worst thing you can say is “I want to run my own business.” The interviewer will immediately think you’re going to run off with all their ideas!
One thing you’ll notice is that most of my suggestions require you to actually know something about the company where you’re applying. All successful interviewees have done their homework in this regard. You can start with the company website, of course, but also check Google for recent news stories and press releases. Use LinkedIn to find out more about the company’s leaders and employees. And look through other social media channels to get a more complete understanding. The Glassdoor website can also give you an inside look at company culture – but don’t get scared off by a few negative reviews. Disgruntled people are often the most vocal.
Researching the company will also help generate some good questions that you can ask. It’s fairly standard at or near the end of a job interview for the interviewer to turn the tables with a question like “Do you have any questions for me?” The worst thing you can do is to say something like “no, all good, thanks.” That shows a troubling lack of interest.
So, what should you ask about? Here’s a few good ones. “How will you measure the success of the person you hire?” “What are some of the challenges the person in this position will face?” “Can you describe a typical day or week in the job?” “How would you describe the culture here?” And probably one of the best questions, because it gets to the heart of what they’re looking for, is “In the past, what has differentiated the people who were good at this job and those who were great?”
That final question will impress the interviewer and give you a good idea if you really want the position or not. After all, unless you’re really desperate, an interview is a two-way street. You’re both assessing whether you and the job are a good match.
And as I’ve explained, you’ll have to do that by talking about why you are leaving your current position, why you want this job, and where you see yourself in the future. And through it all, a solid understanding of the company is just as important as an understanding of English for job interviews.
That’s all for today. If you’d like to test yourself on what we’ve just covered, have a look at the BusinessEnglishPod.com website. There you’ll find a quiz about today’s show as well as a PDF transcript.
So long, stay safe. And happy learning!