I get a lot of inquiries about representing foreign language skills in job search documents and then backing that up in interviews. I’ve posted on how to include Spanish on your resume, whether to include it in a “Skills” section, and why it matters how you represent your foreign language skills in job search documents.
But what do you do when you get to the interview and you have to talk the talk (literally!)?
In this “before” answer to the question, “I see on your resume that you speak Spanish; cuénteme de eso,” you see the need to be prepared. This is especially true with respect to any information you provided in your job application documents. Don’t be taken off guard when asked about items listed on your resume or described in your cover letter.
With any question you aren’t prepared for, you are likely to ramble in your answer and fail to make clear connections to your professional life in general and the specific job in particular, both of which you must do in a real job interview. Remember: it’s about the interviewers, their organization, and their needs (which you meet!)
If you speak Spanish, you’ll also see the value of practicing in these “before” and “after” videos. It’s hard to switch languages when you aren’t expecting it and aren’t prepared. In the “cold” before answer, the interviewer’s Spanish seems a bit rusty: she makes minor pronunciation errors, mixes-ups present and past verb tenses, and uses circumlocution (which is actually a great strategy) to say “a thing that’s needed to graduate” instead of “requirement.”
In reality, her Spanish is excellent–as you’ll see in this “after” answer, in which the interviewer is comfortable using Spanish. She’s a fluent speaker with good grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
The content is great: she gives a brief history of her related experience, then uses 25% of the time to connect her language skills to the workplace. She specifically states the importance of being able to communicate with various groups–clients, providers, and colleagues–in their native language in professional contexts. If this were a real interview, she would be even more specific.
For any job interview question, you have to be ready to do these three things:
1-Prove you have the skills you say you have with a clear, concise, specific example,
2-Connect those skills to the qualifications and requirements for the job, and
3-Make sure you make the interview about them–the employers–and their needs, their mission & vision. Of course, you must also show how you are a good fit and meet their needs.
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a campus workshop, contact Darcy: email@example.com