How to Apply for a Job in English Successfully in Eight Steps

by Jacqueline Schaalje

Applying for a job is easier than you think. The first thing you have to understand is how you can sell yourself. If you sound like a great person who is going to contribute a lot to the company, you will get the job. It’s as simple as that.

How can you contribute to the company? Well, in order to answer that question, first find out what the company that you will be working with is looking for.

Then follow these steps:

Step 1 Make sure you fit the job description. If you don’t meet the job requirements, don’t apply for the job. You’ll only be disappointed. If you do think you can do the job, and you have the right skills and experience, go to step 2.

Step 2 Know everything there is to know about the company, the job, and the people who work there. Study the company website, ask people in similar jobs, ask your friends if they know someone who has worked at the company or who works there now. Any information could be useful: Find out what the company’s products are and who they sell them to. Find out who the competitors are.

Step 3 Learn all the English words and phrases you will need to write your CV (resume), your letter, and for the interview. Such as: applying for a job, skills, qualifications, qualities, I’m responsible for, I’m interested in, background, degrees, I graduated from [name of educational institution], I have [number] years of experience.


Step 4 Send your CV and write a cover letter in which your main message is how good it would be for the company if they hired you.

We’ll talk more about letters some other time.

Step 5 You got the interview! Great!

Step 6 Do make sure you look your best for the interview. You probably know this already: You have only one minute to make a good impression. In that first minute that they see you, people decide whether they like you or not. Before you can even begin to show off your wonderful English, your future boss will already have decided to give the job to you.

Step 7 Smile and extend your hand. Say “How do you do? My name is [First name] [Last name].” If the other person already says their name, say “Pleased to meet you. I’m [First name] [Last name].” If you worry about getting confused when introducing yourself, practice it at home before the interview.

Step 8 The actual conversation. In this conversation your employer is going to check whether you have the right qualifications for the job, and also whether you are a nice person to work with. Some people in the industry even say that the nice person bit is more important. But you know what should be going through your mind: You should explain to your boss that his company will benefit by having you on board.

Here is a model conversation:

Interviewer: Welcome to Friends Company. I appreciate your coming in for the interview to the job of [name of job]. Have a seat.

Interviewee: Thanks.

Interviewer: I’m going over your CV now. You’ve graduated from Harvard. Wow. What makes you the best candidate for the job?

Interviewee: I’ve worked as a [name of your job] for 8 years now, and I’ve made an absolute success of it. I contributed a 10 percent in the company’s [income/sales/donations/subscriptions/market share] in the past year. I feel I’ve learned to know everything there is to know, and I’m now ready to take a more responsible job.

Interviewer: Why do you want to work for Friends Company?

Interviewee: I like your company. I own several of your products. I’m sure I could contribute just as much, or even more, to Friends Company as I used to in my previous job. If you’ll give me the chance to work with you, I can show you how.

Interviewer: That sounds promising. But you’ve never been a [name of job] before, is that correct?

Interviewee: Officially, I haven’t been. But I’ve often worked with Bill Billion, and he showed me all there is to know about the field. You can call him to ask about me, if you like.

Interviewer: We’ll do that. Are you a team player or a soloist?

Interviewee: I like working in a team, because more people know more than one. But when I have to do a job alone, I make sure that I take the time to work on it undisturbed.

Interviewer: That’s very nice. May we set up a second meeting to discuss the conditions of this job?

Interviewee: Certainly. I’ll be happy to!


Of course you understand that this is an ultra-short interview. If you’re lucky you’ll get one like this. All other kinds of questions may be thrown at you, and if you’re clever you practiced answering them at home long before the day of the interview. It won’t be so hard to think of good answers, though, if you keep in mind all the time that what the boss wants to hear is how you’re going to help the company. The interview is not about you, but about what you can do for the company. Nail that job!

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