Posts in Category: Business English

Language activities specifically relevant to using English in business and work.

Job Interview Tips for Japanese Seeking English Language Jobs 

Behavioral Interviewing
Behavioral Interviewing is the most common Western business method of interviewing people for career appointments. The Behavioral method has been used for several decades, although recently there has been some criticisms about how suitable it still is in the modern world of business. I suspect most companies will still be using techniques based on behavioural interviewing for some years. So, the information below is largely based on this method.

General interview tips
-1. Ask questions from people already working in the company. Try and find out before the interview if they will use behavioural interviewing.

-2. First Impressions are very important. Smile, be relaxed as possible. Realise, it’s natural to be a bit nervous in a job interview. If you prepare well, it minimizes your nervous feelings at the interview. In modern behavioral interviewing, you need to show confidence that you are good at your job. Typical Asian job situations may expect you to be modest, but in behavioral interviewing you need to show confidently, “I am competent, I have performed well in this situation or at this activity in the past”.

-3. You prepare well by knowing as much as possible about the company; the job; the names and roles of the people who will interview you, and the main interview areas or aspects.

– 4. The main interview areas are: your skills; your achievements; your career ambitions; your knowledge;  and your personality.

– 5. Perfect English? You don’t need to speak “perfect English”. Even native speakers show hesitation when speaking in interviews.  People often make hesitating sounds like uhm , ahh, mmm. Just try to speak slowly and clearly.

– 6. Fillers. Instead of just making “uhm, ahh” sounds, try using “filler” speech.  You can simply start by using words like ”well” , “right” or “so”. This is OK.  Another good “filler” technique is to repeat the question by paraphrasing what the interviewer just asked you.  Even better “filler” phrases include,  “That’s a difficult situation; I’m glad you asked; Good question,” You can also use ASK questions yourself – e.g. “is that enough detail for you? Did I answer your question? So you mean that …..….?”

-7. Perfect fit? Many modern jobs (especially involving internet technology) are quite unique in their job description. So, few candidates may be a “perfect fit”. That is, don’t worry if you don’t have 100% of the qualities stated on the job description. But do try to mention any of your own skills, education or experience which are a match or similar to items on the job description.

-8. Practice saying what you plan to say in the interview many many times. Ask yourself the interview questions one by one, and then speak the answers ALOUD to yourself.

-9. KISS. Keep it simple stupid! Write mini stories which are consistent with your normal, natural English level.

-10. RELAX. The company has given you an interview. So, basically they think you are qualified for the job. They want to like you, so make it easy by being as relaxed as possible.

Here is a list of “Desirable Behavior Qualities”, also called Competencies or Performance Skills. These are what most companies are looking for. Of course not all of these will be relevant to your specific job area. But you will need to show some of them when you create your job interview stories.

Communication-Oral (speaking)
Control (self-discipline)
Analysis (looking at parameters)
Attention to Detail
Development of Subordinates
Equipment and Software Operation
Listening Skills
Planning and Organizing
Practical Learning
Presentation Skills
Rapport Building
Research Skills
Risk Taking
Safety Awareness
Sales Ability/Persuasiveness
Strategic Analysis
Technical/Professional Knowledge (theory)
Technical/Professional Proficiency (practice)
Technology savvy ( e.g. Skype, Twitter, FaceBook, Google, Microsoft Office)
Work Standards

Planning your Interview
Plan your interview and be prepared to present yourself. Below are some questions and exercises that can also help you prepare:

What skills and contributions do you offer the company? (production and processes)

How can you “add value” to the company? (What is your value?)

What messages to the interviewers convey your skills and qualities? (conscious or subconscious)

What differentiates you from other applicants being interviewed for the same job?


Present yourself with concrete examples of your role and accomplishments.

What was your role, title, team type and position within the team?

Examples of how to do so:

“As Director of _____I….”

“I was responsible for…”

“As a member of the product team…”

“When I taught or instructed I…”



“I created, led, initiated, designed, developed, simplified, organized, facilitated…”


“I developed a plan that …”

“I created a process that…”

“I led the team that…”


What was the result of my efforts?

“I increased, improved, reduced, achieved…”


“I reduced vacancy rates 30%”

“I improved test scores by 20%”

“I achieved highest-ever attendance levels”

“I increased call efficiency by 10% for 3 consecutive quarters.”

Our Departments sales, productivity improved by 15%
The project (event, presentation, report, etc.) was successful

People (the Chairman, the organiser, the client commented (praised me), congratulated me

I was commended for ….. recommended by …….., promoted to

These systems (procedures, people I trained) have been operating successfully for ….years now


Here is a List of Common Behavioral Interview Questions

1.         Can you please tell us a bit about yourself.

2.         Describe a situation in your work career where you showed good leadership skills.

3.         Describe how your interpersonal skills have been used effectively in your work situation.

4.         Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?

5.         Give an example from previous jobs of how you had a problem to solve. How did you go about solving the problem?

6.         How do you respond to working under pressure?

7.         What was your role in your department’s most recent success?

8.         What do you see as your main strengths?

9.         What do you see as your weak points?

10.       Why do you want to work for our company?

11.       What are your goals for the future?

12.       What did you like most and least about your last job?

13.       Do you have any questions to ask us?

Please realise these questions may be asked in different ways. You can paraphrase the question, that is, repeat the question to the interviewer in another way. For example, the interviewer may say,
“Tell me about a time when you were faced with problems or stresses at work that tested your coping skills.” This is the same as question 6 above.
You could reply, “ I guess you’d like  to know how I respond to working under pressure?”.
The Interview should clarify, by saying “that’s right,”  or another similar reply.


Send me a contact message. If you want to practice for a job interview, you can do that with me via my CafeTalk tutorial: Denver Finch, “New! Job! Interview! English for New Job Seekers”. Of course you can also access an astonishing amount of material on job searching and job interviewing via Google and Youtube. Some sources are great, others not so good. I recently discovered an excellent source of job interview information in Deniz Sasal, you can check him out at “” AND ALSO  

Tour Guide English

English for JapaneseTour Guides

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported recently that an estimated 867,100 foreign tourists visited Japan in September 2013. This was an increase of 31.7 percent from a year earlier.As the 2020 Olympics approach, the number of overseas visitors to Japan is likely to boom. Whether you are a professional or a volunteer; working as a tour guide can be very interesting and rewarding.  A great deal of unique words phrases and expressions are used in the field of tourism. As a guide for domestic tourists; you already know most of these in your own language.  But knowing tourist language in English will be very useful for an international tour guide.

Talking about Occupations, Skills and Abilities

In this section we look at talking about things we can do, using very simple English. We begin by discussing skills and abilities, and then look at jobs and occupations.