CAE Reading and Use of English Part 8
You are going to read an article in which people talk about their experiences of job interviews. For questions 47-56, choose from the sections of the article (A-D). The sections may be chosen more than once. When more than one answer is required, these may be given in any order.
Which person mentions the following?
47 establishing how the interview will be conducted
48 the importance of keeping to the point
49 a relaxed atmosphere in the workplace
50 an abrupt ending to an interview
51 taking responsibility for past errors
52 appearing to have rehearsed responses
53 preparing inquiries to put to a prospective employer
54 awareness of body language
55 revealing what motivates you
56 advantages in being honest about your weaknesses
Tell us something about yourself
Being interviewed for a job can be a stressful experience. We asked four people what they learnt from being in that situation.
My first interview for a job taught me a great deal. I was applying for the position of junior account executive in an advertising company, which involves dealing with clients on a face-to-face basis. It follows that you have to be good at interpersonal skills, and unfortunately, that’s not the impression I gave. Like a lot of people, I tend to babble when I’m nervous. The interviewer began by asking me to say something about myself, and I started talking about my hobbies. But I got carried away and went off at a tangent, which made a bad impression. The other lesson I learnt was that if you are asked to talk about things you aren’t good at, you really shouldn’t be evasive. You could mention something that can also be a strength. For example, being pedantic is not always a bad thing in certain circumstances, and you should explain how you cope with that deficiency, but you have to say something.
In my present job, I have to interview applicants, and I can offer a few general tips. Firstly, a candidate should not learn a speech off by heart; you will come across as insincere. Secondly, it is crucial to understand what the interviewer wants you to talk about. For instance, an interviewer might ask about a situation where your supervisor or manager had a problem with your work. Now, what the interviewer is really after is to see how you react to criticism, and the best thing is to say that you tried to learn from this. Finally, don’t try to conceal your real character. Many years ago, an interviewer asked me at the end of our talk if I had any questions. I was very keen to get the job, so I asked what opportunities there were for promotion. I wondered if perhaps I had been too direct, but I later discovered that employers like you to seem eager and ambitious.
I remember one interview I attended with a company that makes ice cream and other dairy products. I turned up in a smart business suit and tie, only to find that my prospective employers were in jeans! They believed in being casual: no private offices, everyone ate in the same canteen, people all used first names with each other. I realised I should have done more research. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. On another occasion, as the interview was drawing to a close, I was asked if I had anything to say. I was so relieved it was over that I just smiled and blurted out: ‘No thanks!’ I later realised this was a mistake. A candidate should decide in advance on at least ten things to ask the interviewer: it’s not necessary to ask more than two or three questions, but you need to have some in reserve in case the question you wanted to ask is answered in the course of the interview.
Preparation is of extreme importance; things like finding out what form the interview will take. Will there be any sort of written component, for instance, and will you be talking to one person or a panel? And of course, you need to prepare answers to those awkward questions designed to find out more about your character. For example, you might be asked about your most important achievement so far; don’t answer this in a way that makes you seem swollen-headed or complacent, as this will suggest that you don’t learn easily. Actually, it’s not so much what people say that makes them seem arrogant as the way they sit, how they hold their heads, whether they meet the interviewer’s eye, so bear that in mind. Another question interviewers sometimes ask, to find out how well you work in a team, is about mistakes you have made. You should have an example ready and admit that you were at fault, otherwise it looks as though you are the kind of person who shifts the blame onto others. But you should also show that you learnt from the mistake and wouldn’t make it again.