Learn Laugh Speak. How to: Language barriers in interviews.

How to Deal with Language Barriers in Job Interviews

How to Deal with Language Barriers in Job Interviews

Today’s workplace is international, which means that more and more people are learning English as a second language. It’s possible you have to interview someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language – but you don’t have to worry because we’re going to share some tips on how to get the best out of an interview with a non-English speaker.

The Process of Language Barriers and Interviews

Assuming the interviewee does not speak the interviewer’s language, there are a few steps that can be taken in order to facilitate communication and ensure that both parties understand each other. It is important to remember that body language, tone, and facial expressions can be just as important as words when communicating.
The first step is to try to find a common language. This may be difficult if the interviewee does not speak any English or the interviewer does not speak any of the interviewee’s languages, but it is worth trying. If there are no common languages between the two parties, then an interpreter may be necessary.
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Once a common language is established, it is important to keep the conversation simple. Avoid using jargon or slang terms that could potentially confuse or mislead the other person. It is also helpful to ask questions that can be answered with short, clear responses.
If at any point during the conversation you are unsure whether or not the other person understands you, stop and ask them. Do not assume that they understand just because they are nodding their head or saying “yes.” Pausing for clarification will help avoid misunderstandings later on.

How to Deal with Language barriers on the Interview

When you are interviewing for a job, you may come across a language barrier. This can be frustrating, but there are ways to deal with it.
First, try to find someone who can speak your language. If you can’t find anyone, try to use Google Translate or another translation tool.
Second, keep your answers short and to the point. Don’t use big words or long sentences.
Third, ask questions if you don’t understand something. It’s better to ask for clarification than to pretend that you understand when you don’t.
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Fourth, be patient. The interviewer may be taking longer to understand you, but they are probably just as frustrated as you are.
Finally, don’t give up. If you really want the job, you’ll find a way to communicate despite the language barrier.

Strategies and Techniques

There are a few strategies and techniques you can use to deal with language barriers in job interviews:
1. Use simple, direct language.
Avoid using jargon or complicated words and phrases. Instead, stick to using simple, straightforward language that both you and the interviewer will be able to understand.
2. Repeat back what you think you heard.
If you’re not sure you understood what the interviewer said, repeat back what you thought you heard to confirm. This will help ensure that you’re on the same page and avoid any misunderstandings.
3. Ask clarifying questions.
If there’s something you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. It’s better to ask a question than to make an assumption that could lead to problems later on down the road.

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4. Take your time and relax.
Don’t rush yourself or get flustered if things aren’t going perfectly smoothly. Relax and take your time in responding to questions; the interview isn’t a race!


Dealing with language barriers in job interviews can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources available to help you overcome any communication obstacles, so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. With a little preparation and practice, you can ace your next interview regardless of the language barrier. Good luck!

Thank you for reading!

This was written by me. Bryce Purnell, founder of Learn Laugh Speak.

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Check out more on my Medium or send me an email if you’re ever curious about anything at all 


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