Brush up on your English: Interview tips for the non-native speaker

Published October 4th, 2015 - 06:05 GMT

If you live in the Gulf, you are more likely to have good English language skills. Still, interviews in general may not be that easy for a non-native English speaker.

If you have applied to that great job opportunity and was called for an interview, congratulations! Now is the right time to flaunt your fluency in English, work on your accent if possible but most importantly, make sure that you have the right type of English for that job interview.

A job interview is a set of specific questions that require from your side appropriate answers. It also requires an excellent command of tenses and hopefully zero grammar mistakes.

In this feature we will provide you with tips on job interview questions and answers in English.

Before the interview

Here are some ways to prepare for interviews in English.  With a bit of hard work and common sense you will succeed in your first interview and exceed your own expectations:

1. Prepare a set of related vocabulary

It’s a good idea to write down beforehand a set of suitable vocabulary related to the industry in which you hope to work and particularly the job position you are applying to. The interviewer will notice the eagerness and commitment from your side immediately.

2. Prepare vocabulary rather than blocks of text

Memorizing long paragraphs about your past experiences and future expectations to use in the interview is not such a good idea for the following reasons:

  • You might forget what you memorized and since you repeated it as a whole, your entire prepared answer is gone. This could make you very nervous and affect your confidence.

  • What you have prepared might not be entirely related to the question you were asked, thus making your answer sound off-topic and the interviewer will be lead to think you didn't understand the question.

During the interview: The time has come to impress your future boss and nail that job interview. Here are some tips to help you with that:

3. Use the appropriate tenses

There are 3 tenses you should learn how to use during the interview:

Future and conditional future tense:

The future conditional tense is an important one for interviews because it is used to express expectations and goals.

There are certain questions with regard to your future if you get the job.

Prepare yourself to answer using the correct tense:

  • What are your goals for the future?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What would be the first goal you hope to achieve should you get this job?
  • How would you advocate for a strategic decision you're trying to make within your sector?

Example of answers to the following questions would be:

I want to secure a project manager position with an international company that specializes in urban development. Ideally, I would like to work for an experienced company, such as this one, so I can grow as an individual and take advantage of all the learning and expertise an established company can offer.

  • The first goal I hope to achieve if I get this job is..
  • If I face a difficulty trying to convince upper management and other stakeholders within the company with my decision, I would..

Present Tense

When the interviewer asks you about your current job position, answer in the present tense:

  • I work at…
  • In my current position I'm responsible for…
  • My current job responsibilities involve…
  • I have been working at .. for 4 years…


Past Tense

When the interviewer asks you about your past job experience answer in the past tense:

  • I worked at…
  • In my previous job position my role involved…
  • I have worked there for 4 years
  • Finally keep your answers short and to the point, recruiters or interviewers usually don't have the time to be your best friends. You only get 10-15 minutes to make a lasting impression on your potential recruiter so make the most of it by being concise in your answers.


Make it a point to give full clear answers to the interviewer's questions then stop talking. People tend to become chattier when nervous so if you ramble the interviewer might think you're not confident or not well-prepared.

After every question, let the interview ask for more details if they are interested, or ask you another question to keep the interview moving along. A comfortable silence between questions would encourage a good two-way conversation between both of you and show your capacity for concentration even in a first interview conducted in a foreign language!

Copyright: Arab News © 2022 All rights reserved.

You may also like