Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Interviewing for a Job in English | 7 Common Mistakes

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Thu, Mar 01, 2012 @ 08:15 AM

interviewing for a job in English, BostonWill you be interviewing for a job in English sometime soon?

If you have been offered an interview, congratulations! The company is interested in you and your skills. You have a great opportunity!

But now you need to show the interviewer that you are qualified and capable of doing the job! He or she will be looking for excellent communication skills which means not only proficient English skills but also an understanding of how to communicate in the United States culture.

There are a lot of great ways to make a good impression in an interview and there are also some really bad mistakes!

In today's article, I will tell you what the most common mistakes are, how they can hurt your chances of getting the job that you want and how you can avoid them!




Don't Make These 7 Common Interviewing Mistakes:



  • Not Knowing Anything about the Company: According to Forbes, this happens in a lot of interviews. If you are offered an interview, that means that the company is interested in you. Hopefully you are interested in them as well! To express your interest in working for them, you need to do plenty of research online about the history of the company, the values and their basic goals. Go into the interview with a list of 4 or 5 excellent questions which show that you have done your research on the company and the industry.


  • Being too Vague about your Accomplishments: When you are interviewing in English, it is important to use action verbs when the interviewer asks you about your positions in the past. What exactly did you do in your previous positions? What did you accomplish? What did you create? Verbs such as "facilitate" "implement" "present" or
    "develop" are great words to show action. Be clear and concise. Use action verbs to demonstrate the value that you will bring to the company.


  • Not Making Small Talk: Like it or not, small talk is an important part of communication in American culture and it's crucial for building rapport at the beginning of an interview. If you don't know how to make small talk in English, try talking about the weather. It is always a safe topic to start a conversation. Remember, your interviewer is looking for someone who knows how to communicate and is comfortable around people and small talk is often a part of everyday communication.


  • Dressing Incorrectly: Everyone knows that it's not wise to wear jeans to an interview at an investment bank but does dressing inappropriately always mean dressing too casually? Not always. Of course you want to look clean and your clothes should be neat and ironed. But also, pay attention to the company culture. Who works there and what kind of clothes are acceptable in that workplace? In other words, if you are interviewing for a fashion photography company in downtown Manhattan where all the employees are artists under age 30, a $300 business suit might not fit in with the company culture. Try to find out what the standard dress code is before you choose your interviewing outfit.


  • Answering Phone Calls or Text Messages: In my opinion, this one is obvious and doesn't even need to be mentioned but according to Forbes, this is one of the most common mistakes. In American culture, if you answer a phone call or try to send a text message in the middle of the interview, it is insulting to the interviewer. It will look like you are not interested in the job and you will most likely not hear from them again. Please, turn off your phone during an interview!


  • Talking Negatively about Past Employers or Coworkers: Most companies want to hire someone who will be able to get along with their colleagues and work well in a team. Even if your previous work situation was not good, spend your time talking about how you contributed to the workplace and the skills and knowledge that you have gained. Don't waste your time criticizing former colleagues. It will only make you look bitter and will probably hurt your chances of getting the job.


  • Not Understanding Communication Styles: One of the most common questions in an interview is "tell me about yourself". It seems simple, right? Maybe not! In the United States, it's common to answer this question using adjectives: "I'm hardworking" or "I'm a natural leader". If you are from a culture where people define themselves based on their connections with others, you might give a very different answer than what your American interviewer is expecting. You don't need to change the way you communicate but it's important to be familiar with your own communication style before entering an interview in the US.



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Photo credit: stevendepolo
This post was partly inspired by The Keys to Blowing your Next Job Interview

Topics: Interviewing, English Lessons

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