Overcoming Language Barriers Before, During, and After an Interview

Overcoming Language Barriers Before, During, and After an Interview

Interviews are roadblocks for anyone seeking a job, but adding a language barrier can add even more hurdles. Employers and future candidates must be on the same page, and to ensure this, there are several things you can do to prepare. Seeking out those who have gone through Interpreter Training can help you feel more at ease if speaking in your mother tongue is the best way of getting your message across.

Do not let language barriers prevent you from climbing your career trajectory.

So here’s how to overcome language barriers, before, during, and after an interview:

Before the Interview: Develop Your Story

A Medium article on preparing for an interview as a non-native English speaker suggests that you must first educate yourself on standard interview questions: strengths and weaknesses, knowledge of the company, what you can contribute to the job. You know your story and can memorize your answers, but have someone check if your grammar and pronunciation are correct and if everything you’re saying makes sense.

Having two monitors would make this process much easier. As emphasized in HP’s list of best home office setup ideas, one screen will be able to keep the primary program in view—or the app you’re communicating with your interviewer through—while you can keep your notes on the other screen. Plus, employers often ask if you have any questions as a test to see your engagement, so a second screen is also a good place to list them on.

Do a mock interview with someone beforehand so you can feel more confident in your delivery.

During the Interview: Communicate it to the Best of Your Ability

Given that employers either put together structured Q&A sessions or conduct unstructured interviews, preparing for interviews can sometimes be tricky, especially when you don’t know what’s in store for you.

For example, The Balance’s interview guide highlights that in a semi-structured setup, the interviewer will always ask follow up, open-ended questions. As such, your preparation should also include knowing how to elaborate on your earlier statements. Take notes as often as needed if you need any further explanations. If you need to learn English to do your job efficiently, either commit to learning the language or tell your employer your plans to do so. Any effort on your end will be appreciated.

After the Interview: Use Being Multilingual to Your Advantage

Don’t be afraid to clarify and check for understanding as this will show that you are efficient and value understanding. “Thank you” is a well-understood concept across all cultures and languages. Show professionalism by sending your interviewer a short note of gratitude for his or her time. This will also shift the focus from your language abilities to your character and skills as a candidate. Forbes Insights deems a multicultural workforce as an asset and success factor for any company. If you know that being multilingual can benefit the company, show them what you can do for them.

Barriers will stay barriers only if you let them. Being multilingual can always be leveraged to your advantage and introduce you to a world of possibilities.


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