Interviewing Tips for Bilingual Professionals
If you’re a bilingual job seeker, in some cases you may have a competitive advantage over other job seekers. Not only are job opportunities more plentiful for bilingual professionals, but workers can command a higher salary, often 5-20 percent more than the position’s base rate. While your bilingual skills can land the coveted interview, you’ve only completed a portion of the job search process. Now comes the hard part: the interview itself. Here are some tips for creating a great impression.
1. Do your research before the meeting. Does the company have ties to the Hispanic community that you are also involved in? Are you linked to any professionals already employed or previously employed by the company? Often you can make inroads just by doing some basic research. You can also access professional networking sites like LinkedIn and join a bilingual group, and post questions about the company you are about to interview with - odds are, you’ll find another bilingual professional willing to give you advice or a referral.
2. Stick to English during the interview. Unless the recruiter requests you speak Spanish for the entire session, you’ll want to answer the questions in English. While Spanish is the nation’s second language, most of the people you’ll encounter do not speak two languages. If asked, feel free to divert to Spanish in order to showcase your bilingual ability.
3. Emphasize your achievements. If you are bilingual, odds are you are bicultural as well. Bicultural candidates have an advantage over people who learned another language at school, since they are even more familiar with dialects, customs, and subtle language differentiations. Did you live in another country for a period of time, or did you work as a bilingual professional for another organization? You’ll want to bring these up during the interview. Talk about a time you helped out a colleague or client who is Spanish-speaking, and how you resolved the issue. Recruiters love situational examples so they can visualize you in the role.
4. Be prepared for any question. Search the web for advice on interview questions and prepare your answers. Have someone close to you set up a mock interview session to ensure you are primed. Always give short, succinct answers to each question. Rambling or going into great detail is often frowned upon, especially since recruiters are restricted by time limits and usually have multiple interviews scheduled per day.
5. Exude confidence. You have a sought-after, marketable skill that many employers are in need of right now. It’s important that you demonstrate to the recruiter that you are confident in your skills not only as a bilingual professional, but also as a competent and enthusiastic employee. Make eye contact at all times, refrain from constant nodding, smile, and thank your potential employer for their time at the end of the session.
6. Don’t talk bring up salary unless you’re asked to. Compensation transparency is gaining ground in the field of recruiting, but it’s still a touchy subject. Often employers prefer to broach this topic at their discretion rather than answer salary questions right from the get-go. If there is a gap between what you’d like to earn and the base rate for the position, you may be able to negotiate this AFTER you’ve been given the green light for a second interview or a job offer. Remember that as a bilingual professional, you may be able to ask for a higher salary than what is being offered.
7. Follow up. Whether it’s a thank-you note or a brief email, you’ll want to follow up with the recruiter at least 24-48 hours after the interview so you’ll stay fresh in their mind. If you do not get the job, asking for feedback is not out of the question. The recruiter may have valuable suggestions about work experience and interview techniques that you’ll want to gather for future interviews.