7 Tips on How to Overcome a Language Barrier in an Online Interview

7 Tips on How to Overcome a Language Barrier in an Online Interview

If you are bilingual or polyglot, chances are you’ve encountered multiple situations in which you felt stuck. However, when it comes to interviews, this is something that definitely shouldn’t happen. This is why we gathered 7 Tips on How to Overcome a Language Barrier in an Online Interview, so that you can succeed. If after this blog, you feel more comfortable being interviewed in English, browse our top English speaking countries in Europe and apply for positions that interest you. 


Why do language barriers exist?

Language barriers exist because of multiple reasons. Those who go through it the most are bilinguals and polyglots. It usually happens as their brain is accustomed to speaking, listening, and writing in multiple languages. Therefore, it can be quite common to encounter situations where you feel stuck as the brain switch doesn’t always go smoothly.


Linguistic barriers can be caused by:


  1. Psychological reasons: usually connected to overthinking, excessive stress or anxiety, lack of confidence, or even constantly double-guessing yourself.

  2. Lack of organization: this happens when neither the recruiter nor the candidate are properly ready or know their role in the interview. Additionally, it can also be caused by lack of preparation before the online interview.

  3. Language disabilities: while some communication barriers are caused by things we can control, there are some that don’t depend solely on ourselves. For instance, there are some people who suffer from disabilities, such as dysphonia, hearing loss/impairment, dyslexia, or stuttering.  

  4. Psychical distance: since it’s an online interview, many factors can cause a language barrier. Examples are: wi-fi connection, battery levels, sound levels & microphones, software updates, etc. Do you remember when you used to play the Telephone Game? Well, this is exactly it. 

  5. Being multilingual: knowing multiple languages will make your brain want to connect a word to everything you already know, which is why polyglots tend to feel stuck when doing online interviews at times. Knowing dialects can also confuse you when speaking similar languages. 

  6. Behavioral reason: you’d be surprised how much your attitude and body language can be a language barrier. Your motivation will communicate your level of interest to the recruiter and your body language will show your commodity with the interview overall. 



How to overcome a language barrier during an interview?


1. No need to be fancy, use basic words and verbs!


One way to overcome a language barrier during an online interview is to use not only simple words, but also plain verbs. Try to simplify your ideas and definitely avoid slang. This obviously doesn’t mean you should talk yourself down or not show your language skills. However, if you’re noticing you’re starting to get nervous and messing up your responses, this would be a very useful tip, and would come in handy. 


Below, you’ll find some simple sentences you could use during an online interview:


  • I’ve always enjoyed working in multinational companies.

  • I have a lot of experience in customer service.

  • Can you repeat your sentence?

  • I’m passionate about languages/travelling/cultures. 


These were some examples you could use in your next interviews, but there are many other useful sentences available out there in case you’d like to browse.



2. Or do go fancy, but select keywords beforehand. 


Let’s say you decide you actually want to go full-on fancy mode and want to use powerful sentences. In this case, try to focus on specific words; keywords. 


The positive aspect of online interviews is that you have margins for notes. This being said, do some research!


On what?


Check the words used in the job description, the company’s website, and your industry niche. This will give you a better idea of what the organization considers to be essential for the position offered. 


In order to overcome online communication/barriers you will need to select some strong statements, write them on post and rehearse them a few times before joining the online interview. As soon as you start feeling confident, you are ready to go!


Below you’ll find some powerful sentences and keywords you could use during an online interview:

  • I appreciate the opportunity you’re providing me with and I hope to have proven my value to you. 

  • I’m flexible and adaptable to sudden changes.

  • How would you describe the way your company promotes employer branding

  • I have quickly earned my position in my previous job.


These were a few examples you could use during an online interview. If you’re planning to look for other powerful sentences, make sure to do extra research beforehand.



3. Use Google Translate!


Although Google Translate isn’t always 100% accurate, it’s considered a useful tool. If you aren’t sure what a specific word is said in a foreign language, you could rapidly use Google Translate for verification.


On another hand, when overcoming language barriers, it’s also recommended to search for other sources, such as digital dictionaries: Merriam Webster, Macmillan, Cambridge, and WordReference. These are also great when searching for synonyms, if you aren’t trying to always use the same word when explaining different ideas. 


If after all, you prefer other sources, get in touch with professional translators or even native friends/professors/acquaintances. They will let you know if what you’re trying to convey makes sense.



4. Use your body language and other visuals to overcome your language barrier.


As most of you already know, verbal communication isn’t the only way to communicate. Using your body language

and other visuals is always effective and will help you overcome part of your language barrier in an online interview.

It is true that your body language is usually a complement to fully express what you’re trying to say to the interviewer, but it can also destroy your presentation in a few seconds if you aren’t careful. First of all, you must sit properly to show respect and seriousness. You can use hand gestures to show expression and motivation, but overusing them can be overwhelming for the person sitting across you on the screen.


Visuals on the other hand are new tactics used by interviewees, it can be a Powerpoint presentation, a digital CV, or any other material that proves your skills and experiences. For instance, if you’re being interviewed for a graphic designer position, sharing some of your work using a digital portfolio could increase your chances of getting hired. 


Nevertheless, try not to overwhelm yourself as much. Body language is followed and deeply connected to your habits, who you are and what you’re feeling at the moment. As long as you’re conscious of that, everything will go well.



5. Be repetitive using synonyms, but speak slowly and clearly.  


Although you’ll read in some articles that it is okay to be repetitive during interviews when trying to overcome a language barrier, be aware that it can become irritating for the recruiter. This is why we learn and are encouraged in high school and university to use synonyms instead of the same word when conveying an idea. 


If you already have an online interview scheduled, keep in mind the words you will want to say and look up some synonyms. Some great tools are: Thesaurus and WordReference.


Some examples are:

  • Job: position, vacancy, offer, etc.

  • Enjoy: fancy, appreciate, like, take pleasure in, etc.

  • Encourage: inspire, lead on, urge, etc.

  • Obstacle: barrier, impediment, difficulty, impasse, etc



6. Be friendly, expressive, and respectful. 


In the worst-case scenario, the recruiter will notice this isn’t your native language. Therefore, what you can do here is be friendly, polite, and honest. Try to express yourself the best way you can, and if you feel it is the right thing to do, tell the interviewer that you’re still not 100% comfortable with that language.


On the other hand, highlight that you’ll try your best to be fully understood and would like them to stop you at any time if they haven’t. After all, it is very important they comprehend everything you’re telling them. 


Moreover, chances are they have already been in online interviews with other candidates similar to you. Therefore, they will have a way to calm you down. Landing or not the job in this situation will also depend if your language skills match their mandatory and optional idiom requirements.  



7. Overcome your language barrier with practice, practice, and more practice! 


It’s no secret that “practice makes it perfect”!


If there is a language you speak, but aren’t proficient yet, why wouldn’t you do your best to get to the highest level? Especially if you’re aware that it is an in-demand language and that it will be your ticket to land your dream job. 


Practice, practice, and practice. There is really no easy way here. Continue taking language lessons based on your needs, ask a friend to speak with you occasionally if you have the option to, and try to watch movies and read books in that idiom. The language will naturally infiltrate your brain.


It is difficult to communicate in a different language, let alone be interviewed in a foreign one. However, don’t allow this to keep you from landing your dream job. Companies need diversity, bilinguals, and therefore, someone like you in their team! Our world is having to fastly adapt to this international environment, and overcoming your language barrier during online interviews is your first step towards achievement.  

We hope you enjoyed reading our 7 Tips on How to Overcome a Language Barrier in an Online Interview. If you know of friends going through language struggles, share this blog with them!


Feeling inspired? Visit our blog for more career advice! How can you be sure the information we provide is top-notch? We are a group of professionals working with recruiters, career coaches, and HR specialists from all over the world! 

Trust our experience and let us help you find a new job in Europe!

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