BEP 90 – English for Job Interviews: Discussing Weakness

BEP 90 - job interview english - discussing weakness

In this Business English lesson we continue to look at the language and skills of interviewing for jobs in English.

So far in this series, we’ve examined two common question themes that you will likely be asked in almost any interview. They were, “Tell me about your previous experience?”, and “What is your most significant accomplishment?”

In this lesson, we will likewise deal with another extremely common question. Unfortunately, it’s almost as challenging to answer as it is popular to ask. It requires you to think about possible problems with your working style and personality, and to give an answer that demonstrates professionalism and the ability to present your weakness as a strength. That’s right, you guessed it, the question is: What’s your greatest weakness?

Talking about your weaknesses tests a unique skill: It investigates your ability to present a drawback as an advantage. Thus, the theme of this episode is “be positive”, and that’s the main point that we’ll be focusing on.

Listening Questions – Good Example

1. What is Sherry’s weakness?
2. Did this weakness affect her GPA (exam scores)? How?
3. Does Sherry explain the positive aspects of the weakness she describes?

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BEP 87 – Interviews in English: Talking about Accomplishments (2)

BEP 87 - job interview business english

You’re listening to the second in a two-part Business English Podcast series on talking about accomplishments. This is one of an ongoing sequence of podcasts on job interviews in English.

The theme for this episode and the last is provide examples. In the first part, we looked at a bad and good version of a recent university graduate talking about his academic successes. We studied how to use our accomplishments to demonstrate skills and characteristics that will be attractive to our potential employer.

In this lesson, we examine another good response to the question about previous experience and describing your accomplishments. We’ll be looking at someone with a little more job experience: Yala Santos is an HR specialist who is working in a manufacturing company. She now has an opportunity to interview for an HR manager position in a business unit of a fast moving consumer goods company, Fun Beverages International. Let’s listen to how Yala deals with talking about her greatest achievement.

Ordinarily, when responding the question about your most significant accomplishment, it’s very important that you prepare to tell a story that is organized and articulate. That means the story should be well structured and flow smoothly. Though there are many ways to make your presentation, Yala uses the same general format that I like to follow.

Listening Questions

1. You will probably need to set up the story by providing some context. Where were you? What was the situation? What was at stake, that is, what did you stand to lose or gain?
2. Recount your role in the situation. How were you involved?
3. Next, discuss what you did, including any analysis or problem solving, any process you set up, and any obstacles you had to overcome.
4. Reveal the outcome and what made you proud.

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BEP 86 – Interviews in English: Talking about Accomplishments (1)

BEP 86 - business english interview

This is the first in a two-part Business English Podcast series on talking about your accomplishments. It is one of an ongoing sequence of podcasts that focus on the job interview process.

Along with your previous experience, your greatest accomplishment is one of the topics that is sure to come up in almost any job interview. This question appears in a variety of forms: What was your proudest achievement? What was your most significant accomplishment? What do you consider to be your greatest success?

No matter how it’s asked, you should be ready with a reply. Interviewers want to hear about something important that you handled. Pick an achievement that is significant to you and that is rich in detail. These two qualities will make it easy to provide examples, which is the main theme of this series.

In this lesson, we’ll be listening to a bad and good version of a recent graduate discussing his greatest accomplishment. We’ll focus on language for providing examples of the positive personal characteristics that our previous success demonstrates. Then, in Part 2 of this series, we’ll hear another good example of someone with more job experience, and we’ll examine a four-part structure for telling our success stories.

First, let’s quickly review the bad example. We’ll go back to Alexander’s interview with Michael in the electronics store. As you listen, consider the following questions. Then we’ll examine the answers in the debrief.

Listening Questions

1. Does Alex put his success into an organized, articulate story?
2. Does he present his accomplishment in a way that provides examples of skills and qualities that will be useful at his new job?

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BEP 83 – English Job Interviews: Previous Experience (2)

BEP 83 - english job interview

This is the second in a two-part Business English Podcast series on discussing previous experience in workplace English job interviews. It is one of an ongoing sequence of ESL podcasts that covers the whole interview process.

In the first part of this series, we examined a bad example of everything that can go wrong when we talk about our previous experience. We used the theme “Don’t let your guard down!” to highlight the importance of maintaining an appropriate level of formality and professionalism, even when the interviewer is attempting to strike a casual tone.

In part-two, we listen to a better interview performance by someone who has prepared to talk about their previous experience more effectively. In this good example, Sherry Shen, from Hong Kong, is interviewing with a multinational accounting company for her first job after graduating with a Master’s in finance.

It’s her first round of interviews, and she is being asked all the standard questions by an HR officer. Although Sherry is an all-around good candidate, her resume has some problems. Her grades aren’t great, and there is a gap with no employment between her college and graduate school careers. As you listen, focus on the following questions.

Listening Questions:

1. Does Sherry let her guard down, or does she answer briefly and to-the-point with an appropriate level of formality?
2. Does Sherry seem well-prepared to talk about her experience?
3. How does Sherry account for the gap in her resume?

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BEP 82 – English for Job Interviews: Previous Experience (1)

BEP 82 - Interview in English

This is the first in a two-part Business English Podcast series on talking about your previous experience. It is one of a longer sequence of podcasts that will focus on the complete English job interview process.

When you sit down to start a job interview, more than likely you will be a little nervous. Interviewers have a variety of techniques to get you to relax and to feel at ease. Usually, they will make some small talk and generally try to lighten the atmosphere. One of the biggest mistakes you can make, however, is to interpret this friendliness as an invitation to be informal.

Another reason interviewers try to get you to relax is to make you drop your defenses so they can see “the real you.” That’s why successful job hunters will tell you, “Don’t let your guard down!” – that is, don’t lower all your defenses. That is the main message of this lesson – the first of eight themes we’ll be exploring during this and future episodes on the topic of job interviews.

In this lesson, we’ll be examining a bad example of what not to do. Since previous experience usually comes up at the beginning of an interview in English, we’ll look at the casual discussion that takes place when an interview starts. Then, in the next episode, we’ll hear a good example, and we’ll focus more closely on further language for highlighting your experience.

Let’s turn to the listening. In this bad example, Alexander, who has recently graduated with a Master’s degree in philosophy, is being interviewed by Michael for a job as assistant manager in an electronics store.

Listening Questions:

1. Is everything Alex says to the point?
2. Does he seem overly friendly or informal at times?
3. How does Alex account for the gap in his resume?

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