Top Interview Tips for Bilingual Job Applicants

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.

How can we help?

As a specialist bilingual recruiter, we match skilled workers with a variety of businesses across the South Coast. Take a look at our current vacancies and please get in touch with our team.

Recruitment Tips: How to Hire Bilingual Workers

If you’ve made the decision to hire a bilingual worker then you’re obviously aware just what an asset they can be in an increasingly globalised world. Bilingual workers in the UK are in greater demand than ever before, which can make the hiring process a challenge. For this additional skill set, you should also expect to pay a little bit more, with bilingual workers commanding an average of 12 percent more than their monolingual counterparts.

In some sectors, bilingual workers are in particularly high demand. In the corporate world, bilingual speakers are a huge boon for international businesses, but they are also becoming increasingly prevalent in charity, medical, public sector and legal professions. So, it’s clear you’re going to face fierce competition for the brightest bilingual minds, which is why we’ve created these top recruitment tips to help you find the best talent.

Look for past experience working for British businesses

British businesses that are hiring foreign language speaking staff for the first time should look for those with experience working for British businesses. It doesn’t matter whether they used their foreign language skill in the role; you simply need to know they are familiar and comfortable with the culture of a British workplace.

Think about the other skills bilingual workers can bring

If you’re looking to recruit bilingual workers then you’re clearly aware of the value of their linguistic skill set, but you should also consider the other benefits they can bring. Significant benefits arise where migrants assist a business’s expansion by sharing insights and connections to international markets. You should also consider their ability to introduce new ideas and innovations, and add skills that are culturally unique and complementary to the role.

Clearly advertise the level of language skills you’re looking for

Companies that produce job advertisements that clearly explain the level of language proficiency they need are much more successful at hiring and retaining the most qualified bilingual speakers. Also, explaining that language skills will be tested in the advertisement will weed out unqualified candidates from the start, without having to foot the bill for additional language tests.

Assess their language skills

Never take the simple ticking of a box marked ‘fluent’ as proof of the candidate’s foreign language fluency. If you’re recruiting a bilingual worker without the assistance of a specialist multilingual recruitment agency, make sure you assess the candidate’s language communication and comprehension skills. There are a number of objective, scientifically designed assessments to gauge their verbal and/or written communication skills, so make sure you use them.

Some companies prefer to assess candidates’ linguistic skills for bilingual positions at the first stage of the hiring process to ensure they only use internal resources on qualified candidates. Other companies may assess language proficiency at the final stage of the recruitment process once the other hiring criteria have been met.

Use a specialist linguistic recruiter

Given the high level of demand for bilingual workers, finding a candidate with the necessary qualifications and experience to fill the role can be a challenge for UK companies. At Linguistica Recruitment, we have a track record of finding and placing talented multilingual staff in commercial, technical and administrative positions across the South Coast.

Get in touch with our team today for expert help filling your marketing, human resources, I.T., legal, logistics, finance or market research role.