The demand for bilingual employees continues to grow as more and more UK companies and organisations look to expand abroad. This includes business development and customer support roles, as well as more traditional bilingual job titles like translators and interpreters. However, there is also a growing requirement to meet the needs of the local multicultural demographic in the UK, with bilingual workers increasingly sought for roles like police officers, social workers and care assistants.
With such a wide range of organisations specifically seeking to recruit bilingual speakers across the UK, there certainly shouldn’t be a shortage of roles for applicants to choose from. And clearly, your specialist skill set does put you at a distinct advantage when applying for a number of modern roles. But, despite this privileged position, you will still have to go through that all-important interview process.
When preparing for your interview as a bilingual worker, there are a couple of extra steps you can take to show your bilingual skills in the very best light. Here are our top tips to help you climb to the top of the interviewer’s shortlist.
Research the company in both languages
If you’re applying for a bilingual role, ideally you should have a clear picture of the company’s work in the UK and abroad. Any company operating in a non-English market is likely to have a native language website. Look up this website and make a note of how the company works in, and targets, that market. When you’re asked the inevitable “what do you know about our company?” you’ll be able to earn extra brownie points by identifying key differences between their UK and overseas operation.
Find out how often you’ll use the second language
You should also focus your research on finding out how often you’ll be expected to use your second language skills. Bilingual jobs can differ wildly in their scope, from those where the role is conducted primarily in the second language; to those where this skill will only be needed on occasion. If the job description doesn’t provide you with the information you need, talk to the recruiter at the employment agency who should be able to help. Understanding exactly how your language skills will be used will help you tailor your interview answers to meet the company’s needs.
Emphasise your bi-cultural achievements
The majority of bilingual workers have lived or worked abroad at some point. It is this knowledge, not only of a foreign language but also of the culture, customs and dialects of a country, that can really make you shine. If you have been on an international placement at university or lived abroad for a period of time, make sure you talk about these achievements during the interview.
Prepare to be tested
Expect your bilingual abilities to be tested at some point during the interview. You may receive details of the test from the recruitment agent, but if not, phone up and ask for any details they have. Some employers will expect you to demonstrate your language abilities by answering questions in the target language; while others will ask you to complete a proficiency test of some sort.
When planning your interview answers, make sure you do so in both languages. You can also find plenty of proficiency tests online to brush up on your skills.
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