Interview: How to tell a proper personal story in English for a job interview

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How to tell a proper personal story in English for a job interview

Hi guys, one thing that I am doing at the moment is teaching University graduates how to get their dream job. To make things even harder, they must do the interviews in a foreign language. I think it is fantastic how they are able to to do this. On thing English language students need to be able to do is to tell the story to keep the interviewers attention.

It can be very difficult,

as there are many things to remember. You must remember the story in a different language, you must remember the verb tenses, you must remember the key or main points, plus you can not bore the interviewer!!

Generally, you should be able to talk for around 60 seconds on a particular subject about your life experiences. Seems quite a lot, but if we break it down the interview can be a lot easier and a lot let stressful, not to mention sounding less like a robot with formulated answers!!

OK, so here I go. Imagine you are asked the question - "Tell me about your biggest achievement" (your biggest achievement is a success - but it is a success that you perhaps found difficult to do, maybe you wanted to give up but you continued, maybe even you failed a few times but you picked yourself up and carried on.)

So, how do we start. - We start at the beginning!!

The Beginning

Firstly you have to paint a picture in the mind of the interviewer. He/She doesn't know you so you have to introduce them to the story. So this is where you must answer the questions 

  • When - when did this event take place?
  • Where - where were you?
  • Who - Who were you with?
  • What - what is the story about? Give it a headline to keep the interviewer interested about what is coming.

The Middle

The next part is the middle. The middle is the nuts and bolts of the story. This is the main part.

  • What was the aim?
  • What did you do?
  • Why was it difficult?
  • Why did you want to give up?
  • What didn't you give up?
  • Why did you fail? 
  • What made you start again?
  • What made it a success?
  • How did you feel?

It is important to tell, not just what you did, but how you were feeling as this makes the story very personal and more interesting for the listener.

The Ending

The last part is the ending. This sums up your story and it is the part that the interviewer will mostly remember and is where you emphasize your good points and characteristics.

  • What did you learn?
  • What experience did you gain?
  • How has this improved you?
  • Why does it make you suitable for the job you are going for?

WE can now finish and the interviewer isn't waiting for the story to end. You have brought it to a natural conclusion and hopefully you will have impressed the interviewer and you can get your dream job!

So remember, ina  job interview - each story for your experience should have a BEGINNING - MIDDLE - END. Structure is so important and remember it usually not WHAT you say but rather, HOW you say it that counts - especially in a foreign language.

Hope this helps! If you have any questions, then please let me know!

Ajarn Ken

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