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Business English: Internal Interviews

Once you are already inside the company, the interview changes. They no longer need to waste time hearing you describe your past work experience. Obviously, they are aware of what you have been doing. Now they want to know how you think.

For all of these questions, it is critical to structure your answer in a clear way. That in itself shows your potential. It also helps the interviewer to stay focused, even though the person may have a full day of interviewing scheduled.

1. Given this hypothetical situation, what would you do?

The "hypothetical situation" will vary for different careers. Imagine several situations that would be important to your employer and practice your answers, one at a time. During the interview, give yourself time to think. Write down a few notes if needed. Ask questions as needed to clarify the hypothetical situation. As you present your answer, make sure it is clear. Structure it the same way you would structure an essay: introduction, details (step 1, step 2, step 3), conclusion.

2. How would you solve this hypothetical problem as part of a team, and how would you solve this hypothetical problem if you were on your own?

Again, keep your answer clear and structured. Do not concern yourself with showing preference between being on a team or independent--unless that is asked. Treat each problem as a separate scenario. If the issue of teamwork vs. independent work is brought up, respond by saying that you work well both ways and you're willing to follow your manager's lead in choosing which way is appropriate.

3. Describe your past successes as part of a team.

Clearly show what you did. Use numbers/percentages when possible. Demonstrate your ability to cooperate while also expressing the roles of others. Highlight yourself, but choose a situation that shows balanced teamwork.  State one success in detail. Then state general success--such as having worked with the company for ___ years and having completed ______ projects.

4. Describe your past personal successes.

Again, use specifics. If all of your work has involved teams, treat this question almost the same as question #3. If you have a good example of an independent personal success, then state that one.  As in #3, state one success in detail, then state your general sense of success, i.e. how your life has followed a successful path from your university work to the present.

5. What are the pitfalls of ...?

Your employer will describe a "pitfall" that suits your career situation. Imagine various pitfalls of work within your company to practice this question.

Take a moment to think about your answer. Your answer should be detailed without being stereotypical. They want to know how much you know. After stating the pitfalls, state solutions. Be careful to structure this answer: the main pitfalls that I see are ____, ____ and ____. (Explain each more thoroughly.) In my experience, wise solutions are ___, ____ and ____. (Explain these.) Remember, you can always add an aside, such as, Oh, one other pitfall is ____. However, giving some basic structure to the answer allows you to be memorable.

6. How would you describe your previous relationship with your manager?

Again, let yourself think. State several, specific points in your relationship--such as communication, organization, working styles. Then go into some detail. Paint a picture of how you worked together. Avoid anything personal and simply show what it looks like to work with you. If your previous relationship was not good, be careful to control the expression on your face. Keep your face neutral with a relaxed, polite smile.

7. Discuss a conflict you have had with a coworker.

Choose a coworker behavior that is generally accepted as inappropriate, such as emotionalism or low work performance. Keep your solution neutral--avoid seeming to have played manager or to have over-reacted in any way. State that you followed correct protocols and did not let the behavior disturb your own work.

8. Why do you wish to change jobs?

Be sure to understand your company, how people move up and how often. You want to express positive ambition, but avoid sounding ambitious to an extent that could threaten the interviewer's position. Match your career goals to the overall goals of the company.


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