Looking for a job can be daunting at the best of times, but when English isn’t your first language it can be a bit more than intimidating; it can be downright overwhelming. Not only are you competing with countless other applicants, but you are competing with people who know how to say what they want to say easily while you are struggling to translate in your head before opening your mouth.
According to Annemarie, creator of Speak Confident English, the key to anything you do in life is to do it with confidence. She aims to help you learn English so that you can say what you want to say when you want to say it, and above all, with confidence. Check out this brief job hunting survival guide and you’ll quickly understand that the key to landing that job is confidence.
Look at the Big Picture
What you are experiencing at the moment is probably your own self-doubt. You are sitting across the table from the head of HR and this is the last step before meeting with the department head who will have the final say on whether to hire you. Step back for just a moment and review what you know to be true.
You’ve made it this far, so why start doubting now? Of the hundreds of applications submitted to this company, yours made it to the “A-List.” You’re here, aren’t you? That must mean they liked what they saw on your application and resumé. Sit up straight and look your interviewer in the eye with confidence. They liked what they saw, and you know you have what it takes, so act like it! Confidence is critical at this point.
Language Isn’t Always a Barrier
Yes, you will need to speak English fluently because you will be working in a country where English is the national language. However, also remember where you are! The United States has speakers of over 300 other world languages and if you think this poses a problem for you while job hunting, imagine what teachers go through each and every day in the classroom.
Language isn’t always a barrier and, in fact, being bilingual is usually a plus. Today’s high-powered corporations know they are operating on a global level and your ability to speak more than one language may be just what they are looking for. Speak confidently in English because you want to impress upon that interviewer that you have mastered the language. You now have the ability to communicate with those who speak your native language, as well as being able to communicate effectively in English. If that doesn’t boost your confidence, nothing will!
Confidence Boosting Proverb
There is an old proverb which mothers raise their children by in English speaking countries. “It isn’t what you say but how you say it.” Keep this in mind when interviewing for that all-important job. Even if you are shivering in your boots, as the old saying goes, keep that smile on your face and speak with confidence. Keep timidity out of your voice.
Slow down if you must but speak clearly and with confidence. Once you let the other person hear that tremor in your voice, they may begin doubting you as well. They want to know that you truly have mastered the skills on your application and that tremor may lead them to believe what you are saying isn’t the whole truth. You can master confidence if you learn to control how you say something. Remember, it isn’t what you are saying but how you are saying it!
Feedback from Peers and Former Co-Workers
You may not even be aware of all your strengths, so why not get feedback from peers and former co-workers prior to the interview. Ask them to give you some honest feedback on what they see as your major strengths. It is surprising to learn that you have strengths you never thought you had. Take those strengths into the interview with you. Perhaps a former co-worker found that you were able to quickly assess situations for quicker and better outcomes.
Maybe a peer sees you as friendly and able to get along well with people from all walks of life. Remember, most people don’t see themselves as others do so that feedback is of vital importance. Think of it as a learning mechanism. That is why you’ll also need to be prepared to work on any weaknesses they may point out as well. This is not the time to be oversensitive. This is a time to walk into that interview armed with confidence. Knowing that you’ve conquered a weakness is a confidence booster if ever there was one!
In the End, It’s All About Authenticity
Once you have assessed your skills and what you know you can bring to the job, it’s up to you to convey the message. Authenticity is crucial in any job interview. Don’t try to be someone you are not just to impress the person sitting on the other side of the table. Once you are confident that you know you have what it takes, the only thing you need to master is yourself. It may be a challenge if you are also trying to master a second language, but in any language, authenticity is what counts.
Interviewers are trained in the art (and science) of reading nonverbal clues. Body language and eye contact can belie the words coming out of your mouth. That person may read your fear of speaking in English as a sign that what you are saying isn’t 100% truth. If you haven’t mastered that fear, at least be forthcoming with the interviewer.
A Final Thought – Or Two
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are searching for the right words in English. It is obvious by this point that you have a strong grasp of the language, but even native speakers of English pause from time to time in search of the right way to say something. Just avoid the temptation to overexplain yourself and all should be well.
Authenticity is key. You are who you are and you have what it takes, so let the real you shine through. You could speak a dead language and still get the job if they like what they see. If what they see is the real you, the job is yours. You can be confident of that.