How to give a good interview answer?

Uncategorized Aug 19, 2020

To all international student graduates and new immigrants, I always get asked how to deliver a good answer under the pressure of an interview because we tend to be frozen or a lot of "um...oh..ah" in our answers and we might likely fail the interview because of this.

This problem has 2-fold: Idea & Language.

Most of us blame the language part because "English is not my 1st language", which is only 50% correct.

So this is a step-by-step method that I used to get my 1st job at a bank and you can try it to fix this problem: 

1/ Idea

Even with domestic candidates, whose 1st language is English, sometimes they can't think of a good answer and speak out clearly within a few seconds, especially under pressure in an interview.

So, this part has nothing to do with the language.

If the interviewer asked you about something related to leadership experience and you can’t come up with an example within a few seconds, that means you prepare poorly for an interview. You have no idea to talk about, again, it is not the language part, it is just you don’t know what to say, even in your mother tongue.  

Thus, it is all about preparation that you know your experience well and inside out. You might go for different interviews with different job titles but your past work experience doesn't change. So, you need to spend your time on understanding clearly your work experience before you can come up with an idea to answer an interview question. The reason why you can’t answer a question might be because you miss out on some of your previous experience and achievement, you just forget it.

You should spend more time and reflect on your own work experience to prepare all examples that you have to showcase your skills and achievements such as: leadership, data-processing, communication…etc

2/ Language

Language is a problem when you have an idea and you just can’t get it out.

Normally, you think about the idea or the answer in your own language, then you translate it into English and by the time you get it out of your mouth, the interviewer is already sleeping --- because it takes too long!

So the only solution to this is: PRACTICE. You need to practice speaking English everyday to get yourself familiar with the language. It is just like you can’t get a 6-pack body by just WATCHING people doing push-up, you need to actually do the push-up to build up your muscle.

So how can I practice speaking English?

a/ Language School --- > cost money $$$$

Some will go to a language school and sign up, this is good, but just a friendly reminder that if you really count how many minutes you actually speak English in a class, I think it is well below 15 minutes per day, which is too little. That’s why there are a lot of people going to language school without any improvement.

b/ The park, the coffee shop, the mall, on the subway…etc --- FREE but Ineffective

Some people will recommend you go to the park, coffee shop or asking strangers on the street “How are you doing?” to initiate a conversation. I will NOT recommend this for the following reasons:

_When people are on the street or at the coffee shop, they are going to somewhere or doing something and they are mostly likely not in the mood of talking to a stranger (You). So, it is harder to start a conversation. Imagine you are late to work and somebody stops you to start a conversation, how do you feel?

_You will be rejected many times and you feel down and you lose your CONFIDENCE, so you stop speaking English.

Please understand that it is not people are mean and they don’t want to talk to you, it is just because you approach them in a wrong way at a wrong time.

c/, ---- FREE and EFFECTIVE

The most effective and safest way to practice speaking English for international students and new immigrants is to go to 2 big social events platforms: and Eventbrite.come

With thousand of groups and activities, I am sure you will find something you like to join in such as your hobbies. Hiking, Painting, Travelling, Soccer…etc you name it. So going to these group meetings will help you practice speaking English more effectively because:

_All people go there are HAPPY to SPEAK and they are willing to LISTEN to you. Yes, for free, you don’t need to pay them to talk to you.

_They are in the mood of TALKING, if not they already stay at home.

_They are friendly, nobody goes to a meetup group to be angry.

_ This is where you actually make friends and connections and really learn the culture and the people of Canada, because it is not a networking seminar or workshop or job fair in which you want to convince people to hire you. It is simply a place to talk about a hobby that everyone enjoys

To sum up, please take the following actions and you will get a job soon:

1/ Please spend some time today to reflect your work/school project experience to make sure you have enough ideas/stories for an interview

2/ Please go out there and practice speaking English in a safe and fun way.

#interviewskill #ESL #failedinterview


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