By the end of this unit you should:
Interviews conducted in English may be judged on the English proficiency, the content of the answers or a combination of both. This unit will focus on the English proficiency.
Read the following list of assessment criteria and decide which you think are most important for your interview.
These six criteria are commonly used in many interview examinations, including for IELTS and TOEFL examinations.
To score highly on fluency is is necessary to avoid "dead air" or "awkward silence", which are usually caused by lack of ideas, lack of vocabulary or inability to create a sentence. Avoiding "dead air" is achieved mainly by practice and the use of a few expressions to gain thinking time (see Activity 5).
Accuracy score is related to grammatical proficiency. The more grammatical errors you make, the lower the overall accuracy score.
There is a trade-off between fluency and accuracy. When people speak slower, they may be more accurate. In general, for Japanese students, it is better to focus on improving fluency when preparing for your interview. This is because the Japanese education system emphasizes accuracy over fluency.
Pronunciation comprises multiple aspects including intonation and stress. Your aim should be to sound enthusiastic and interested, which means you need to stress important words and use rising and falling intonation appropriately.
Appropriacy is concerned with the content of your answers. Your answers should not only directly address the questions but also provide some additional relevant information. This gives you two advantages: first, you show you understand how to communicate appropriately; and second, you provide the interviewer with more language for them to reward you with a higher score.
Range of vocabulary relates to the type of words you use. If you only use common words (e.g. high frequency words, such as the most common 2000 words), you score is unlikely to be high. You should aim to use some less common words. This can be acheived via good preparation.
Range of grammar relates to the different types of grammatical constructions that you include in your answers. Range of gramamr trades off against accuracy, since the number of grammatical errors may increase as you use increasingly complex grammatical structurs. In most cases, I recommend you focus on using the grammar you are comfortable with plus some prepared expressions.
Read the transcript of this (very short) practice interview. Identify aspects that can be improved.
In short, the answers relate directly to the questions, which is a good point. However, all the answers are short and simple. In fact, the interviewee only said 40 words in total. This means that there is little chance for the interviewee to impress the interviewer. In addition, there are a number of simple grammatical mistakes, such as using "come" instead of "came" and "want" instead of "wanted" in answers to questions asking about the past. There is one intrusive pronuncation error "r%iding". This word was difficult to recognise because of an "r/l" sound problem. However, by adding more information, such as "riding horses" or "riding my bicycle", it would be easier for the interviewer to guess.
Read the following advice.
In Japanese job interviews there is a strict etiquette regarding knocking on doors, waiting for instructions to enter or sit down, and bowing correctly. Interviews in English conducted in Japan may expect such behaviour, particular when job hunting. However, IELTS and other language proficiency interviews are more relaxed. It is, however, important to try to create a positive impression. The advice above is aimed at creating a positive impression.
Select the best answer for these questions.
In each case option a is the worst answer. Although this option answers the question, the interviewer learns little about your ability to speak English because the answers are too short. Option b is a better answer, but option c. is the best answer in each case. In option c the answer directly addresses the question and provides some additional information. The answers also show a wider range of vocabulary.
Read and remember these fillers. They can help you gain thinking time and show fluency even when you cannot answer a difficult question. For example, if you are asked to compare a frog and a toad, you might say
"Oh" is used to show surprise. The next expression gives you time to think of a response. Practice at least one of these so that you can avoid "dead air" while thinking of an answer.
Watch and listen to this short video in which an interviewee demonstrates how to answer questions even when she does not have an answer.
Practice your interview skills in this interview simulation.
This was created for accounting students, but for computer science majors talk about your major, and not accounting. The interviewer asks a question and pauses. Speak until he begins the next question. Do not leave any "dead air" or awkward silence (気まずい沈黙).
Read this advice.
We show enthusiasm and interest using facial expressions and intonation. Maintaining eye contact and smiling are two common ways to show interest. Intonation is one of the main ways to convey interest. When speech is rather flat, it seems as though the speaker is not interested. When speech has too much intonation, it sounds silly.
Read the following sentences aloud.
Create an audio recording of your answers to each of the questions below.
If that was easy, try answering "Tell me a little more about that?" after each question from question 2 through to question 11.
Video record your answers to the questions above. Re-record until you have an error-free video. Check each of the following criteria.
Make sure you: