Preparing for an interview (not only at Solwit!) nowadays also entails being ready for an English language proficiency test. Programmers or testers usually use English on a daily basis and normally it poses no problems since the vast majority of tools are available in this language. However, there’s quite a difference between day-to-day work and a job interview. So, how do you prepare for the recruitment process and what questions in English can you expect during the meeting (and why)? Here’s what you need to know.
Let’s start with a good tip: try to objectively assess your level of language skills. If you are not able to determine it according to the international scale (A-C), simply explain your proficiency level in your CV. You can say that you understand, read, and speak the language, but for instance, you need to brush up on your speaking skills because you have worked in Polish-speaking teams so far. Don’t overestimate your skills because, sooner or later, it might all come out. Most likely as early as during the interview. You’ll get stressed out, and the recruiter will remember that there were some inaccuracies in your CV, to put it mildly.
At Solwit, we don’t conduct recruitment interviews entirely in English, but you can expect that we may want to test your skills.
Keep in mind that we don’t aim to hire you as an English teacher – we seek programmers and testers, not linguists. Language is supposed to be a tool for communication, so we don’t require you to have a perfect accent or be familiar with all the grammatical intricacies.
During the recruitment meeting, you will surely find out what language level your job will require. We will inform you if the team you are to join is English-speaking, or if you will only need to communicate with a foreign client from time to time.
We always try to keep meetings as stress-free as possible – so we hope these sample questions will help you even more!
Normally, we test your English skills on two fronts – soft and technical.
Tell us something about yourself. How would you describe yourself?
These types of questions come up when a recruiter wants to check your general English language skills. Perhaps there will be English-speaking individuals in your prospective team and all communication will be English-based. The other reason could be potential client liaisons, which may occasionally require skills other than technical ones.
So, what do we want to check by asking these questions? First of all, the confidence you have when communicating – whether speaking English stresses you out, whether you do so easily, naturally, the vocabulary you use. We also want to check your reaction when someone starts speaking in English, as it often happens that specialists in a certain field can discuss their professional topics with ease, but they find it difficult to speak in colloquial everyday language.
If you are asked to talk about technical details (e.g. what you did in a previous project), we are keen to see if you can communicate with someone who will be working with you. If the first few questions did not go well, these others could be your chance to succeed. You’re a specialist, so surely you can tell us about your responsibilities or the technologies you’ve worked with.
Prior to the meeting, it would be a good idea to practice if you don’t use the language on a daily basis – that can reduce your stress level and boost your confidence.
It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not the knowledge of English that determines the outcome of the recruitment (unless the requirements and job advertisement clearly indicate that a specific level is absolutely essential). No harm will be done if you use the incorrect tense or mispronounce a word (it might even go unnoticed) – we just want to get to know your potential, and since we meet at the interview, we believe you have it!