4 Steps for Interview Success with a Foreign Accent

Interviewing for a job with a foreign accent? Is English your second language?

Here are 4 steps for interview success:

When I moved from Bangladesh to the U.S., I feared going through the interview process and I was worried about being judged for my foreign accent. 

When English is your second language, it's common to fear judgement from an interviewer or feel concerned that they might not understand what you are trying to convey. But those candidates might be qualified for the job, or even more qualified than native English speakers, yet they don’t apply due to their lack of confidence in their speaking abilities. 

​​But if you don’t have confidence in yourself, why would someone else have confidence in you? 

Having a healthy level of self-confidence is essential for your mental health and a successful career. From my first-hand experience, I know it’s not easy. I had to fight through my fears and remind myself that I have what it takes. I didn’t give up! In the past, I’ve felt the sting of being judged for wearing my scarf and my accent. Trust me when I tell you that preparation will increase your self-confidence, and that it is possible to find companies that will value you and understand what you bring to the table. 

I have learned that every experience, good or bad, has taught me something to help me grow. After going through a lot of challenges in my career, I landed in a place that values my background and who I am.

Now, let’s talk about how I faced my fear. Check out these steps I recommend:

Step 1: Set your Intentions

  • Do not compare yourself with others.
  • Always focus on being the best version of yourself and what you do best.
  • Be unique in your own way, your accent makes you different from other candidates, and you can offer a different perspective.
  • Attend an ESL class.
  • Practice your communication at local library programs. 

Step 2: Before the interview

  • Be kind to yourself and talk positively about yourself.
  • Motivate yourself. 
  • Continue to improve; no one is perfect.
  • Practice how to pronounce words in the job description.
  • Preparation is key. Make a list of all the possible questions they might ask and practice your responses. 

Step 3: During the interview

  • Slow down. Sometimes, when we get nervous and tend to talk fast, it is even harder for the listener to understand.
  • Focus on your achievements and wins in work and the community.
  • Don’t be deterred by the interviewer’s reactions to your accent. Be confident in what you have to offer the employer. 
  • If you feel uncomfortable during the interview process, it might not be the right work environment.

Always make sure to be you, relax and stay positive! Know that you are qualified for the job, and interviewing is a two-way street.

If you have further questions on how to prepare for a phone interview or virtual interview, sign-up for a coaching session with one of our professionals. 

We wish you the best in your career endeavors!

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About The Author: Tanima Alam

HR Associate Consultant/Recruiter with remarkable experience in retail management, recruiting, and training.

Currently in graduate school for Business Administration, Human Resource Management, and Organizational Development at Eastern Michigan University.

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