In the first part of this article, we discussed in detail how to prepare for the various stages of interviews with HR employees of a foreign company. Here I propose to focus on the questions that may be asked to you already at the interview itself.
Unexpected questions from HR
Remember what Leszlo Bock, ex-director of human resources at Google, says: Today, all interviews are reduced to one format, and people are asked standard questions: "Name your strengths / weaknesses", "Tell us about yourself" and "Why do you want to get this job?". This is not the most ideal method for finding the best employee, but your bonus is that you are 90% predictable and well prepared.
Why do you want to leave your current job? This is a very important question. Your response tells the HR manager about your communication skills within the company, your values, and HR immediately estimates a possible behavioral scenario in the future. Never talk bad about your current or previous employer. You may not really have a good relationship with your boss, but don't say he is "bad." Say that you have a "value clash", that is, a conflict of values and explain what values you remain true in any situation.
What do you know about our company? I have witnessed many interviews that lasted exactly a minute, because the person could not answer this question. The logic of the interviewee is simple and clear: if you want us to invest our time in your candidacy, please do your “homework” - devote your time to studying information about the company. Don't just list facts, numbers, and names. Be sure to mention how you, with your skill set, can help the company make more money or solve a specific problem.
Tell us a little about yourself. A standard question that many Russian-speaking candidates nevertheless "fail" on. There is no need to tell where you are from, where you were born, and what you like to draw. Also, do not indulge in long and boring descriptions of your activities over the past 10 years. Retelling a summary is not quite the answer to this question. Imagine that you are going to a movie. There are 5 films on the poster, which are shown in this cinema at the same time. You don't know anything about them, except for the name, but the genre seems to be yours. Which movie will you choose? Chances are, you watch each trailer to decide which movie to go for. The answer to this question should be your "movie trailer", which the employer will want to watch in full with all the stated special effects. It should be interesting and last about 1.5 minutes.
What do you dislike about your current position? Answer the case, but do not dwell on this question. Not to mention personal dislike for people or their dirty mugs in the kitchen sink. This is where HR is trying to identify a possible “testing ground” for conflicts with your future colleagues and management. It makes sense to talk about what would be unacceptable for you professionally: failure to fulfill obligations and agreements, lack of insurance, etc.
Do you like to work in a team or alone? If you answer that you love working alone, it means that you most likely will not get along with the team. If you answer that you are more willing to work in a team, it may mean that you are unable to take responsibility and make decisions on your own. To avoid misunderstandings, carefully study the vacancy: what is required of an ideal candidate - independence or teamwork? And of course, be honest with yourself. If you are used to deciding and doing everything on your own, if you absolutely hate working in a large team, you hate open space, and the vacancy implies just that, you may need to consider another position.
Of course, these are not all questions, and one article is not enough to understand all the nuances. But the basic idea is that an interview is a DIALOGUE. This is by no means a monologue similar to the "topics" that we all learned before in English lessons. You should not memorize the answers to all questions. I have seen many times how everything went to dust, as soon as a person heard a question, the answer to which he did not learn. Or his monologue was unexpectedly interrupted by a question, or, perhaps, they simply cut off in mid-sentence, because he was telling something irrelevant, and the person forgot everything he wanted to say and cooked for so long. Everyone gets nervous at the interview. And if it's an interview in another language, people are all the more nervous. They lack not so much knowledge of the language as self-confidence, as well as the skills to build and maintain a dialogue in English. So I'll say it again: “rehearse” out loud and learn from the feedback that an English-speaking professional gives you, or that you are able to give yourself.
Typical mistakes of Russian-speaking candidates
1. People do not know how to talk about themselves. My advice is to learn to “brag about the case”, to talk constructively about your achievements in terms of facts. List your accomplishments, starting each paragraph with a verb, and take a close look at it. If these points make a clear picture, you are doing everything right. Read the paragraphs to someone who knows little about you. If he understands and can remember what your professional value is, you are doing everything right. If you need another 5-10 minutes to explain your paragraphs and subparagraphs, change the text. You won't have ten minutes. How you talk is also important. I may be a bore, but I repeat that it is important to "rehearse" out loud with expression. Very often people do not hear themselves, their voice and the manner of presenting information. You can list the facts, but stumble over every word and mumble from uncertainty,but you can talk about nothing for a long time and in good English.
2. People talk about themselves for a very long time. One of the fundamental rules of communication in the international business space is “Don't talk longer than they do”. If HR is asking you a short and specific question, you shouldn't play the part you memorized at home from beginning to end. It turns out that your interlocutor spoke for 10 seconds, and you - for three minutes! But the impression can be spoiled not so much by the monologue itself as by the fact that during a monologue people do not look at the interlocutor, but often up and to the side, remembering the necessary English words, do not give the second person the opportunity to agree, nod or ask a question.
Try to pay attention to this and answer a short question with a short sentence, after which look at the reaction of the interlocutor and make a mini-pause. It is very difficult to constantly diagnose the interlocutor and participate in the dialogue. Therefore, I attach great importance to two skills: spontaneity and confidence. They are worth developing as you improve your English. My advice is not to learn the answers by heart. Otherwise, one unexpected question or remark will completely unsettle you. Learn to articulate the point and answer questions clearly. The more verbs there are, the clearer your message in English. By the way, let me give you a hint: if you already work for a foreign company and intend to apply for a promotion, learn to formulate your ideas succinctly and succinctly. To be able to explain important and complex things in simple, understandable constructions - to a team,management and partners - the most important bonus to your professional skills.
3. People go too far when they talk about how awesome they are. I will take this out as a separate item, although it is closely related to the first. Remember that the main question in the interview, which is tacitly hidden behind all the others, is: "How exactly will you help our company make more money?" Therefore, if you notice that you are carried away by stories about what a great professional you are, and how many important certificates you have, change the vector and start talking about how cool you can solve the company's problems. Prepare one or two specific stories for each bullet point on your resume. Shootouts without a proven story are just bragging.
4. People don't ask questions. Imagine that you are invited for an interview, and you really have few facts about the company, or you were invited so urgently that you did not have time to prepare. When you are asked: “What do you know about our company?”, And you honestly answer: “There is still very little,” in this case, you may be treated with understanding. But if at the end of the conversation they ask you if you have any questions and you answer: “No, not one,” for HR this is an alarming “bell”. This may mean that you are not interested and that you are completely unprepared to take the initiative. Prepare a set of questions about the company that you can ask at the end of the interview. Check out this compilation from Liz Ryan right away in English and practice out loud.
5. People don't give thanks. Be sure to write a Follow-up thank you e-mail to thank the person for their time. First of all, this is a rule of good form. It is also a good opportunity to remind yourself (in large companies, the flow of candidates can be large), ask questions that you forgot to ask, and add a couple of details about yourself that you forgot to mention. But if you have not written anything at all and are waiting for an invitation, like a princess, many foreign companies see this as a loss of interest and even a lack of good manners.
Difference in approaches between Europe and the USA
In Europe, companies are more likely to invest in employee training and, accordingly, it is customary for many years to work in one company, gradually moving to the next promotion. In America, companies are more likely to hire a candidate with a ready-made skillset they need than wait for their internal employee to grow to the right level, so people are more likely to change jobs and companies.
I remember my resume being reviewed in Germany - for a long time, carefully checking every letter. The interview is more formal there than in the States, especially when it comes to a corporation. In the States, at a personal meeting, I was told something like “Come on, we have already read this summary. Tell me better what you do,”here the interview is not just a formality, but a decisive and fundamental stage in building relationships with people. It is important not just to answer questions about the resume, but to build a dialogue. Taking into account the fact that American companies are still looking for a "star", you need to pump the skill of self-presentation.
Get ready that in Europe most often the interview will be long, it will be conducted by a highly qualified HR according to the scenario approved by the company and will not let go until he asks all the questions from the list. In Europe (especially in the UK and Germany), it is more common to send not Resume (a 1-2 page document summarizing your experience and answering the question "Why are you the best candidate?"), But CV - a document where in chronological order you list everything you've done since high school. You may well be asked detailed questions about the last 10 years of your work experience. The distribution of roles is very clear: they ask you questions, you answer, your position as a candidate who “needs more” is obvious, and you should not take the initiative in your own hands at the first interview. Most likely you will be asked,where do you see yourself in 5 years and where you were 5 years ago. It's best if your career advancements and relocations are the result of careful planning, rather than impulsive and illogical decisions. You will be asked why you changed this or that job, for Europe the norm is a long relationship with one company. It is important for them to understand that you are quite predictable and that you have a career plan for the next 5-10 years that you intend to follow.
Women may be asked about plans to get pregnant, and there is no need to say that you are not going to have children if this is not true. Many employers treat this normally, especially since in Europe often fathers go on parental leave, and women continue to work. You will most likely have to send additional letters of recommendation and many different documents after the interview. Your patience, constancy, loyalty and the fact that you answer letters on time and fulfill the requirements are also a sign for the company that you are a worthy candidate.
In the States, the situation is significantly different. There, more attention is paid to the personal qualities of the candidate (although many European companies today are also shifting their focus in this direction). Even the fact that Americans prefer Resume over CV says a lot. You are expected to be able to present your experience and personal accomplishments on your resume in a way that resonates with the job you are applying for. It is also worth preparing for an interview. Lack of experience, especially if you want to change occupation, may not be a critical factor, if you can convince the HR manager that you as a person are a rare find, you learn quickly, and the synthesis of your experience from different areas, on the contrary, allows you to look at the situation in the company with a fresh look and help in the development of their product. Also remember that the United States is a multinational country. On the one hand, they are loyal to all nationalities. On the other hand, they most likely know little about the geography or values of your country, or how prestigious you graduated from. For them, it's just a name. You need to convince them that you are a good candidate right here and now - in the process of dialogue.
The very idea of "selling" yourself was born here, and it's better if you know how to do it well. Therefore, do not apologize for past experiences, do not be discouraged, do not belittle your achievements, but do not lie either. This is not forgiven. Answer honestly, to the point of the question. Instead of negative experiences, talk about what else you want to learn and what you want to achieve. Here you are on an equal footing, and your questions at the end of the interview will be perceived as a very good sign. Spontaneity is appreciated here. It is unlikely that you will be asked obvious questions and walked "in order." Chances are, the interviewer will jump from one question to the next and evaluate how quickly you respond and how flexible you can be.
PamelL. Leri, VP of HR at Mellon Financial Corporation, has done a whole lot of research comparing the “culture” of interviews across continents, and she argues that America expects candidates to respond quickly, while in Europe it is considered normal to pause and think. before formulating your answer. “If you can't fit your thought into 30 seconds, then you shouldn't talk about it” is the slogan of one very large American IT company, which many imitate.
You will most likely be asked about your hobbies and interests, and about your experience of volunteering. The latter is very much appreciated, many Americans from adolescence participate in various volunteer projects, and if you have a similar experience, you will be seen as a person who shares their values. Get ready to tell a story in English about a similar experience.
About the author:
Natalya Tokar, creator of the UpSkillMe Business English for Ambitious Minds training center, author of business English teaching methods, upskillme.ru
Photo: Getty Images
- How to “Sell” Yourself at an Interview in Foreign Companies (Part 1)
- The perfect resume: through the eyes of a job seeker and employer
- Royal wedding # 2: how the "spare" princess Margaret got married
- Countries where the most beautiful and responsive men live