Don’t feel to be a stranger at a foreign language job interview!
A significant number of young people admit they learn foreign languages (mainly English and German) because they regard them as tools that make finding jobs easier in the future (you can read about this in more detail here); this seems to be a quite strong motivational factor. This is also important because a growing number of employers build some kind of a foreign language test into the personal or phone/video interview. The reason for this is that the working knowledge of at least one foreign language is expected from the applicants, especially that those already employed speak at least one language to a greater extent than those who are not employed. Thus, language knowledge is a competitive edge. (Of course, it also depends on the job and work sector.) So, if this is among your reasons for learning a language, you should read further!
I you are planning to start looking for a job in the future, or you have already been called in for an interview, it is worth preparing for some unexpected turns and events. The interviewers may ask surprising questions, you may have to make associations about pictures, but it is also possible that the interviewee suddenly switches from Hungarian to English. Either it happens such unexpectedly, or they inform you in advance that there is going to be a foreign language part of the interview, it is important to be clear about in what way they can test your language knowledge.
Fundamental knowledge and skills in the foreground: is speaking the key to success?
Certain employers are mainly interested in what fundamental foreign language skills you have, and so they do not even ask for your language certificate. They are rather curious about whether you make your message clear, you are able to speak spontaneously, and whether you can apply the theoretical knowledge in practice. It is primarily expected when fulfilling a job needs much verbal communication, so if you are looking for a job in this area, you should better prepare for this kind of interview.
It can also happen that at the same time, they test your creativity; for example, they show you a simple picture about which you have to talk, or you have to make up a story based on it; of course, interviewers do not expect some kind of a miracle, and you don’t have to come up with the screenplay of a blockbuster movie. The aim is to produce coherent, continuous speech.
Such individual, oral tasks can sometimes also appear in a group format; then, you don’t have to talk alone, but it is allowed to ask questions from the other candidates, or they ask you to solve pre-set situations together. These tasks do not really differ from the ones at oral language proficiency exams, so at least you can show what you are able to do in a familiar environment!
In other cases, you might be called on the phone, and a part of or the entire conversation may be carried out in a foreign language. Then, the interviewee wants to find out how you communicate when you don’t stay at the same place physically. This reveals if you could communicate with foreign clients on the phone, and how confident you are in situations that require quick answers.
Do you have good writing skills? Then they may want you to solve a task in writing!
In the case of other positions, there can be a need for your writing skills, so it is not surprising that at certain companies, they test this part of your knowledge. It can be an option that you will have write a foreign language draft e-mail to an imaginary client or partner, if the company you have applied use this kind of communication method. However, they may also ask you to write an official letter. It can be a good idea to check or go through the characteristics of official letter and e-mail genres, their main parts and editing rules.
Your writing skills can also be evaluated by a translation task; this is effective when there is a need for an excellent knowledge of both the given language and professional terms. Let’s admit, this is the best way for the employer (and you) to make sure the given job is sufficient for you.
You do not have to be surprised if they want you to fill in a placement test that measures your actual language knowledge; this is also a possible method, but today, it is not so wide-spread. And why do they use it? Perhaps because apart from theoretical knowledge, they make a picture about how you can use your time, how you handle stress caused by time limits, and how you are able to concentrate when answering question after question.
So, in short: at first, think about which job interview goes with which job type, and after that, you can begin preparation, practice, and then you can get in the “interview mood”.
Picture: Merio Pixabay