Useful English: how to succeed in a job interview

BROKINNEWS interviewIf you have a job interview in English lined up, you might want to give this post a read. I’m going to present some language that you can use to answer the most common questions interviewers usually ask.

As an interviewee, you’re likely to be asked the four following questions:


What are your strengths?

Here are some expressions/words that you might want to use to address this question:

  • I’m good at + doing something: I’m good at planning / dealing with people;
  • I’m good with + something: I’m good with numbers;
  • People say I’m..: people say I’m very hard-working;
  • I’ve often been praised for + skills / doing something: I’ve often been praised for my organisational skills / being always on time;
  • My time management is excellent;
  • I’m reliable;
  • to cope with something: I can cope with stressful situations;
  • to strive + to do something: I always strive to meet deadlines / achieve my goals;
  • I’m particularly proud of + skills: I’m particularly proud of my ability to deal with multiple tasks;

What are your weaknesses?

  • I find it difficult + to-infinitive: I find it difficult to say ‘no’;
  • I struggle with + someone/ something / doing something: I sometimes struggle with people who don’t work hard / prioritising;
  • I have trouble + doing something: I occasionally have trouble prioritising tasks;
  • I used to + infinitive but now: I used to have difficulties in prioritising* but I have now learnt ..;

>>> I’d suggest that you use adverbs like ‘sometimes’ or ‘occasionally’ in your response to make your answer sound ‘less negative’. Also by using ‘I used to + infinitive‘ you’re underlining that you’ve worked on your weakness and finally overcome it.

*Notice the structure: to have difficulties in + doing something.

Tell me about your experience/ your current job.

  • to be in charge of: as a Sales Director, I’m in charge of strategic planning;
  • to be responsible for: as a Sales Director, I’m responsible for strategic planning;
  • to lead a team: I lead a team of five people;
  • my main duties include + (doing) something: my main duties include strategic planning and setting targets etc;
  • my field is + sector/ science / industry: my field is human resource / psychology ..;

What made you apply for this job?

  • I think this job is a perfect match for my skills
  • I think this job would suit me because…
  • I want to bring my career to the next level
  • I think it would be both challenging and rewarding
  • My aim is to become XXXX in five years time;
  • I’d like to move on in my career as a Sales Director and this looks like an excellent opportunity;

Grammar you need to revise

Make sure you revise the following grammar before your interview:

  • Present Perfect: I have worked in my current job for 12 years / since 2002*;
  • Past Simple: I worked for 5 years in marketing before starting working for XXX;
  • Present Perfect Continuous: (lately) I have been working on a very important project..;
  • 2nd Conditional: If I was offered the job, I’d be able to start in a month (using the 2nd conditional makes you sound less pretentious 🙂

*for+ period of time (two days, three months, five hours)
since+ point in time (2010, April, Tuesday, five o’clock)

Hope this helps and good luck 🙂


Useful English: Business Phrasal Verbs

Image I have recently been asked to teach some ‘Business English’ expressions that would make a non-native speaker sound a bit more like a native.

I’ve come up with a list of 10 phrasal verbs which I personally think should be part of your Everyday Business English.

When appropriate, I’ve decided to include another piece of information for each of these verbs: their collocations.

A collocation is two or more words that often go together: a nice pretty weather. Read more on collocations here and start getting into the habit of always looking up collocations when learning new vocabulary. It will help you make less mistakes and sound more natural!

1- TO CALL OFF (transitive)

I’m afraid we’ll have to call off tomorrow’s meeting.

‘to call something off’ means to cancel it.
Collocations: to call off a meeting / a class / a strike / a match

2- TO PUT OFF (transitive)

She decided to put off the meeting to next week. 

He decided to put off seeing Mary.

‘to put something off’ or ‘to put off doing something’ means to postpone it/doing it.*
Collocations: to put off a meeting / a phone call / an appointment

3- TO HEAR BACK FROM someone

I haven’t heard back from the client yet

‘to hear back from someone’ means to get someone’s feedback/reply about something

4 – TO COME UP (intransitive)

I’m sorry but I can’t attend the meeting tomorrow, something has come up.

if ‘something (usually a problem, situation or event) comes up’ it happens unexpectedly.
I’d say ‘something has come up’ is a particularly useful sentence when you don’t want  to commit to something one of your workmates wants you to and you haven’t got a real explanation. It’s vague enough but not dismissive! 🙂

5 –   TO LOOK INTO (transitive)

Could you please look into the possibility of relocating our business to China?

‘to look into something’ means to analyse it, to collect more information and facts about it.
I’ll look into it!‘ is a sentence that could come in handy when a colleague has just suggested to you something that you hadn’t previously thought about. It shows appreciation of their comment.

6 – TO PULL OUT of something (transitive)

The company has decided to pull out of the agreement.

‘to pull out of something (usually an activity or agreement)’ means to decide not to continue it.
Collocations: to pull out of an agreement / a bidding / a contract

7 – TO COME ALONG (intransitive)

How is the report coming along?

‘to come along’ means to make progress.

8 – TO SET ASIDE something (transitive)

A lot of resources should be put aside for this project.

‘to set something aside’ means to save something for a particular purpose.
Collocations: to put aside money / time / food

9 – TO GO OVER something (transitive)

Let’s go over the whole project again and see how it can be improved.

‘to go over something’ means to examine it very carefully.
Collocations: to go over a project / a report / a document / a contract

10 – TO STICK TO something (transitive)

Let’s stick to our initial plan!

‘to stick to something that you’ve decided’ means to continue doing it in the same way.
A common phrase usually heard in meetings is ‘let’s stick to the agenda!‘. Use this sentence when you feel that people have started talking about things not relevant to the meeting’s agenda.

I hope there will soon be a chance for you to use some of these phrasal verbs in a meeting!
Talk soon,
Deb 🙂

*Remember that after prepositions you always have to use the -ing form. That’s why we say to put off doing to do something.