What are your strengths?  A typical question used in interviews, and as part of our screening process. Interviewers may ask this to help understand what a person is actually good at doing, or comfortable at doing.  Whether for sales, general office work or management, this question often poses difficulty especially to those people who are still learning how to express themselves in an English language interview.  The meaning of the question is clear, but the trouble comes from how people answer it.

One typical response we often hear:  “I have good communication skills”.  While it appears positive, it leaves us wondering:   what does ‘good’ communication skill actually mean?  Discussions with clients confirms that using subjective language such as good is largely meaningless unless the candidate follows up with real-life examples of their work experience that demonstrate how effective their communication is.  One client explained to us that TOEIC scores (widely used in Japan to demonstrate English comprehension) did not impress him; rather, he preferred to gauge a candidate’s ability face-to-face where he could see how well they performed in an actual conversation, something which TOEIC doesn’t reflect.

Consider this: “I work in an environment where I’m required to speak in English by telephone daily, coordinating our sales team, and to report our sales results to our APAC Director in Singapore each Monday”.  Eliminating the use of ‘good’ and stating your specific activity clarifies your actual responsibilities as well as highlights how well you can explain yourself.  Of course, this is just one example and is not limited to English language learners, but All interviewees.

An article written by Mona Abdel-Halim highlights commonly used expressions in resumes that—if you want to make a better impression—you should avoid.  And a few mock interviews with our consultants can help your performance also.



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