‘She doesn’t sound like the person in the CV’.
‘I’m not convinced he’s been a Team Lead’.
[Frequent comments I’ve heard from employers over the years, after they’ve met the person in the CV]
You’ve received professional assistance in creating an impressive CV, but that is all wasted if you can’t match it with your communication and interpersonal skills. Your ability to articulate what you have done and to speak with the confidence of a professional is crucial in any interaction you have with your prospective employer. What are you doing in preparation for this inevitable encounter? If the answer is, ‘nothing’, you need to think again. You may be competing against candidates who were born in Australia, have local experience, speak English as their first language and are adept at weaving humour and cultural references into the conversation.
Let’s have a look at a three-step approach to preparation:
Write down what you want to say to the prompt, ‘Tell me about yourself’, for example, or any question you are likely to be asked by an employer. Writing your response allows you to organise your ideas so you are succinct. It also allows you to read your response and identify things you’d like to change – Can you substitute with a better word to express your idea? Are you using appropriate technical language? Do you sound like an expert? Or is the language dumbed-down because of your limited vocabulary. A written response also allows you to pass on the spiel to someone else for feedback – the next step in the preparation process.
Warning: Written English and spoken English are not the same. One danger of writing it down is that it reads like written English. Avoid markers like, ‘Moreover’, etc. Some words we use in written English are rarely used in spoken English. Professional advice will be able to iron-out any issues you have with your choice of expressions.
Get someone who has been in Australia for a long time, preferable a speaker of English as a first language, to check your spiel – even better if it is a mentor from your profession. Take advice and make changes.
This is the stage that most people do not bother attempting. It is one thing to have the knowledge in your head; it is another matter altogether to have it come out of your mouth the way you want it to sound. Producing language, like any active skill, requires practice.
Read your spiel aloud, record it (audio/video) & listen to your voice. The simply act of listening to yourself will prompt you to make changes to the content and delivery. Get into the habit of recording yourself and playing it back. Better still, get professional tuition to produce impressive and professional spoken English, along with some tips about local culture to give you that extra edge over other candidates. You can also use those numerous discussions you have with recruiters, over the phone or face-to-face, to practise your speaking skills.