Do you have to face an interview in English? Here is our help with interview questions. Key phrases to use in an interview and how to answer tricky questions. Good luck!
I have been willing to handle…
I am very self-motivated, determined and honest …
I usually thrive on …
I frequently talk to our key accountants …
My strengths are interpersonal skills …
I can normally win people over to my point of view …
I am very frequently able to assess …
I often have an intuitive sense of…
I also have a personal rule…
My approach is helping us to come up with better and more creative solutions.
I have been told that I am honest, reliable and ethical.
I have had to learn to cope with…
My associates have remarked on my friendly attitude, thoroughness and ability to get things done on time.
I have been able to develop a very supportive team.
Tricky Interview Questions
- Question regarding “Personal Weakness”
More often than not, you will be asked about your weaknesses in an interview. If this seems daunting, follow the interview tips below:
Interview Question: “Looking at your own resume, what do you think your weaknesses are regarding this job?”
Advice: Take the opportunity to turn the question around and find out what they think your weaknesses are.
- Question regarding “Hard Work Ethics”
You will often be asked questions in respect to your work ethic. Always try to validate your answer with examples.
Interview Question: “Would your current boss describe you as the type of person who goes that extra mile?”
Advice: Share an example or experience that demonstrates your dependability or willingness to tackle a tough project. If you describe “long hours of work,” make sure that you prove that the hours were productive, and not the result of poor time management.
- Question regarding “Standing Out”
Often in an interview, you will be asked to separate yourself from other candidates who may be more qualified or may be less of a risk-factor.
Interview Question: “What skills or ideas do you bring to the job that our other internal candidates don’t offer?”
Advice: This question addresses your motivation in adding “true value” to the job. Evaluate the job carefully, considering current limitations or weaknesses in the department and your unique abilities. Your ability here to prove “I offer what you need and then some” could land you the job.
4. Being Specific
Sometimes in interviews, you will be asked questions that lend themselves to be answered vaguely or with lengthy explanations. Take this opportunity to direct your answer in a way that connects you with the position and company, be succinct and support your answer with appropriate specific examples.
Interview Question: “Why did you choose this particular career path?”
Advice: Your answer needs to convince the interviewers that your skills are exactly what they want. They want to know if you have a realistic view of what it is like to work in their industry. Be specific; show them that their industry and your career goals are in line with each other.
- Tough questions regarding your past
There may be times an interviewer may ask a question regarding your past that can be hard to dodge. You should answer these carefully and try to come up with answers that can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive response.
Interview Question: “I see that you didn’t finish school; can you explain that choice?”
Advice: The interviewer is trying to gauge what kind of a risk you are. So you tend to complete things or just let them fall by the waist side? Give a good reason why you did not finish or explain why any issues related to it are in the past.
- Questions about how you can “Contribute to the company”
Before an employer makes a decision to promote you, they will need to know how you have performed in the past and any other special contributions you can bring to the company.
Interview Question: “Tell me about a special contribution you have made to this company.”
Advice: Don’t give long boring answers, instead focus your answers on the actions you took and the positive results that you obtained.
- Questions regarding “Helping the Company”
When you are looking for a job, an employer will want to know what you can do to help or improve their company. Now is the time to tell them of your proven skills and knowledge that you gained with previous positions.
Interview Question: “Give me an example of how you can help this company.”
Advice: Use an example of a significant contribution you made in your past job that impacted the bottom line. Show how this ability transfers across industries from one functional area to another.
- Questions regarding “Salary Expectations”
Everyone wants to make a lot of money working the job they love. You should be honest here. Saying that you will be OK working for $30,000 when you think you are worth $40,000 is not a very smart idea. Experience will show that you will lose interest in the job pretty quickly.
Interview Question: “Tell me about your salary expectations.”
Advice: You should answer this question in general terms. Mention the market value for yourself.
- “In Five Years …”
Employers will want to know your drive and a sense of what your future holds for you. They would prefer to hire someone with a sense of purpose. Employers may ask you to describe what you see yourself doing in the years to come, whether you will be at one company or another. Telling them you see yourself in their position may not be the best answer.
Interview Question: “Where do you want to be in five years?”
Advice: Avoid the urge to describe job titles; this makes you seem unbending and unrealistic, since you do not know or control the system of promotion. Describe new experiences or responsibilities you’d like to add in the future that build on the current job you are applying for.
- Question regarding “Previous Bosses”
There will be times in an interview where questions about past co-workers and old bosses will pop up. Telling them how pathetic and bad they were is generally a bad career move.
Interview Question: “Tell me about your relationship with your previous bosses.”
Advice: The interviewer is looking for a fit between the two of you. As you describe each previous boss, the interviewer will be making mental comparisons between your old bosses and themselves. Be honest but never sound too negative as your employer may consider you to be a hard person to work with.
The English Language Room can help you practise for your interview. Try a Skype session with a trained English tutor who will listen, correct any mistakes, work on pronunciation skills and give you vital feedback for improvement. It is the perfect, stress-free way to practise. We give specialist interview practice.
Do people in your country chat about the weather? When you’re making small talk, you can be sure that at some point the weather will be a topic for discussion! In whatever social or business situation you are in, being able to chat about the weather is a great way to break the ice.
Have a look at this helpful lesson on Small Talk and The Weather to help you speak English with confidence
- You will be able to chat and make small talk about the weather
- You will practice using ‘will’, won’t and ‘will question form’ to talk about the weather
Let’s Get Started
What’s the weather like today?
Look at the table and answer the questions which follow.
|12pm today||°C||12pm tomorrow||°C|
|San Francisco||Fg||21||San Francisco||S||17|
|St Petersburg||Sn||-1||St Petersburg||Fg||2|
S=sunny C=cloudy Fg=foggy R=rainy Sn=snowy
- What is the weather like in San Francisco today?
- What will the weather be like in San Francisco tomorrow?
- What is the temperature like in Shanghai today?
- Will the temperature in Shanghai be higher or lower tomorrow?
- Is it supposed to be rainy in Dublin tomorrow?
- Have you heard the forecast for Stockholm tomorrow?
Now look at the table again and ask the class your own questions.
Reporting and predicting the weather
- Read the sentences and fill the gaps with the missing words:
What’s there changeable looks with get weather about will day
- Well, here in London it is quite cool and windy today. It is ______ 12°C
- It ______ be warmer on Sunday. It’ll be around 18°C.
- ______ the weather like there, Bob?
- It’s a beautiful ______ here.
- The ______ is great/awful/terrible today.
- On Friday it’ll be sunny ______ winds of 10-15mph. (miles per hour)
- Our forecast says it will ______ worse on Thursday.
- Maybe ______ will be showers later on.
- It ______ like it’s going to rain tomorrow.
- The weather is a bit ______ .
- Look at these phrases and match the pairs to complete the sentences.
|I think it will be
It won’t be cloudy
Will the weather
I hope there
If it rains
They say it
If it is too hot we
I think it will
It will be very
| will get better when we go home!
windy at the coast
will stay in the hotel
be foggy in the morning
will be rain soon
will snow tomorrow
we won’t go to the barbecue
warm and sunny next week
get better for next week?
and wet in Miami.
Role Play: Weather reporter
Scan the information on the weather from the BBC website
Answer any questions the trainer may have.
What have you learnt this lesson?
What do you need to improve on before the next?
What do you think would be useful to do next lesson for you to progress further?
Sitting in on a meeting when the conversation is not in your native language and trying to join in can be one of the most nerve-racking and frustrating situations in your working life. We completely understand the problem: by the time you have thought of what to say, the subject has changed; you are so busy listening and understanding that you don’t have time to formulate your sentence; you think you might sound abrupt or rude if you interrupt; people speak so quickly that there is no opportunity to ‘get your word in edgeways’.
We have put together your essential ‘speaking up’ phrases. Take them with you to every meeting and have them at your fingertips. You will be able to interrupt a conversation politely and with respect…your colleagues will stop listen to you. Give them a try!
- Could I just come in here? / Could I just add / mention….?
- Could I perhaps mention……
- Excuse me, Can I jump in here for a moment?
- I see what you mean, but …….
- Well, I agree up to a point, but …..
- Yes, that may be true but ……
- Sorry to interrupt and I completely agree with what you are saying but …..
- Excuse me for interrupting here, but I feel it is important to mention that…..
- I’m sorry to just come in here, but I have been wondering……
Adding a ‘hedging’ word (possibly / perhaps/ reasonably / probably) can help you to sound softer, more approachable and not in the least bit arrogant.
We could go ahead with …….. We could possibly go ahead with …..
It is better to…….. It is perhaps better to …..
We could expect……. We could reasonably expect…..
They will decide to …… They will probably decide to ……..
Try them! They work wonders!
Learn English: Essential Email Language
So you want to improve your business English? Let’s study writing business e-mails!
There are two main styles when writing a business English e-mail. One is formal and the other is informal. When writing a formal e-mail, your language will be more indirect. An informal e-mail contains language that is direct.
In the UK, most people use a business-like and polite tone that is fairly direct. The point or purpose is stated briefly, clearly and quickly.
Use direct language if:
• You are writing to a co-worker
• You are not making a special request
• You expect your request to be accepted
It’s okay to use very direct language if you are writing to your employee or someone who works for you.
Use indirect language if:
• You are writing to a customer, a stranger, or your boss
• You are trying to say something difficult or negative
Example: Very direct – This needs to be done today.
Less direct – Please do this today.
Indirect – We need this tomorrow, so I’d appreciate your getting it done as soon as possible.
Here are some other examples of direct vs. indirect language.
1) Very direct – Send them to me right away.
Less direct – Please send them to me right away.
Indirect – I would appreciate it very much if you could send them to me right away.
2) Very direct – Let me know what you think.
Less direct – I would like to know what you think.
Indirect – I welcome your questions and comments.
3) Very direct – We do not have the item in stock.
Less direct – We are sorry that we do not have the item in stock.
Indirect – We regret to inform you that we do not currently have the item in stock.
4) Very direct – I’ll see you at the meeting.
Less direct – I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.
Indirect – It is with great pleasure that I look forward to seeing you at the meeting on Thursday.
Remember to always use a tone that is friendly, whether they are important customers or just colleagues. It’s important to treat everyone with respect.
Are you thinking outside the box or having an ideas shower? Whether you are learning English for business or work or just for fun you will come across some curious phrases that cannot be translated word for word and, if you do, the meaning is ‘lost in translation’. Phrases like this are called idioms and English is rife with them and nowhere more so than in the world of business. If a project is ‘oven-ready’ it certainly doesn’t mean that you are going to cook it!
Idioms can be confusing but they are also fun to work out and even more fun to use, if you can use them in the right context. In business English these are also known as buzzwords. Some people find these phrases clichéd or overused but, love them or loathe them, it’s important to know them.
Here are 20 key business idioms to help you with your learning of English
|To think outside the box||To think creatively and without restrictions|
|Let’s have an ideas shower!||Let’s brainstorm our ideas!|
|To touch base||To contact for a short time|
|To fast track||To do something in as little time as possible|
|A ball-park figure||An approximate number or value|
|A win-win situation||A good situation for all|
|Look at the big picture||To see the overall effect or plan|
|A game plan||An overall strategy|
|Delayering||Downsizing (and making redundancies)|
|To have your ducks in a row||To be organised|
|To cascade information||To pass information on down through the ranks|
|Empowering||Encouraging staff to learn many skills|
|Going forward||Moving on (…..from now on )|
|To sing from the same hymn sheet||All feel and do the same|
|Low hanging fruit||Projects yielding the greatest reward for the least effort or cost|
|To move the goal posts||To change the objectives|
|A slippery slope||The start of a decline|
|To absorb lessons learnt||To learn from the past /mistakes|
|benchmarking||Evaluate by comparison to a standard|
|A back-up plan or Plan B||A second plan if the first does not work|
Hopefully this has been useful for you in your efforts to use and understand English for business.
Good luck and watch out for more blogs with phrases and expressions to help you out!
English,learning English for business,business,business idioms,learn English Skype
The statement in the title gave us at the inspiration to set up ‘The English Skype Room’.
Our tutors have been teaching English and other Modern Languages for many years and the same problem came up again and again when our students would say, ‘It was fine when I was in the country, it just came naturally to me, but now I have forgotten it all again’. We all know the feeling! We decided to set up the ‘next best thing’ to being in the country: provide a platform for anyone around the world to have conversation lessons, lessons on business or interviews and brush up on their English before going on holiday or a trip.
Modern technology has shrunk the world and it is so easy to sit at home and talk to anyone from any country through Skype or the Web. We think it is vital for learners of English to take advantage of this new technology: use it to improve your job prospects, prepare for that interview or business trip.
English has become the global language of business and we want to help our customers feel confident in using it and applying their knowledge to everyday situations. It can be nerve racking at the beginning to speak English over Skype with someone you don’t know. Our tutors are all friendly and good listeners and you will soon ‘feel at home’ even though you are at home!
Here are a few tips for preparing for a Skype lesson…
Read through the English lesson carefully before you start.
Look up any new words in a dictionary (online dictionaries are quick and useful)
Listen carefully to your tutor and don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question.
Keep your answers simple using language you are familiar with at first: your tutor is skilled at getting you to be more adventurous.
Don’t worry about making mistakes! We like mistakes…it means you are learning!
Do you want to learn English?
Do you want to improve your English for job prospects or promotion?
Are you coming over to the UK for a business trip or holiday?
Are you looking to improve your English because you want to study in Britain?
An online course of grammar and worksheets is very useful and so is watching Youtube English lesson videos, reading and listening to the news and working from a text book. All great ideas! These strategies will help with your passive learning, but it is active and interactive learning that will boost your English skills. Using Skype to communicate with a native English speaker is the perfect way to learn a language: it is the next best thing to actually being in the country.
Skype English lessons enable you to have a face-to-face conversation; you can ask to learn what you really need; ask for clarification and get instant feedback; listen to clear British pronunciation and improve your pronunciation skills; hear up to date English; you are free to make mistakes without anyone else hearing them. That has got to be a bonus! During Skype English classes the teacher can text vocabulary and written information directly to you or share the screen so that you can see the teaching material and work on a text or exercise or video/ audio clip together. The lesson is so alive and vital that it is just like being in a classroom ……. not a classroom but a ‘skyperoom’.
Just shut your eyes for a minute and imagine you can speak another language fluently. You can order a meal, find your way around town, go into business meetings, and answer questions at the job interview, all in a language that is not your mother tongue. A wonderful thought and it certainly would be wonderful if that could happen overnight or in our ‘minute of dreaming’. But as the saying goes, ‘It takes years to become an overnight success’. Maybe not years in the case of language learning but it just needs a little hard work, practice and dedication.
When you were two or three years old, you soaked up language. You heard an important word like ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ or better still ‘tractor’ or ‘cat’ and you liked or loved those things so much that you wanted their attention and therefore you labelled them and tried to say the word as best you could. Other people reinforced this for you by repeating it so many times that you finally ‘got it’. The human need for food and drink meant that language was vital for survival. You had to learn ‘milk’ and ‘dinner’ etc. rather than just cry! The need to be loved, to have attention, to survive provided the perfect motivation to learn a language. So where does that leave us poor adults? You may need to improve your English, for example, in order to ‘survive’ in your new posting in Europe or you are going to begin a course at university in Britain or America. Ask yourself, how much do I need this and why do I need the language?