Tips on How to Succeed

Before the Interview
  • Review the oral rating scale so that you know what the examiner will be checking for.
  • Practice beforehand by having a friend or colleague interview you with questions found on our recommended websites or other resources. You may want to record this and have a native English speaker listen to it with you to identify ways that you could have answered more naturally.
During the Interview
  • Relax. You are not expected to be perfect - just to be fluent enough to function easily in an English speaking office.  
  • Keep talking.  Try to give more than a 3 word answer to each question. The examiner wants to hear you talk more than the interviewer.  The examiner cannot easily give you a score if you only say 'yes' and 'no'.
  • Speak slowly, audibly and clearly.  If you tend to speak fast when you're nervous, try to speak slower.  You'll be understood bettter.  If you usually have a soft voice, make an effort to speak louder.  It's impossible for an examiner to give you a score if s/he can't hear you.
  • Don't say your name.  To be fair to all test candidates, you are not allowed to say your name during the interview.  
  • Feel free to take control of the conversation.  Interviewers have been advised to avoid talking about politics or other sensitive topics - but have not been given exact questions to ask.  Thus, the content is not as important as your appearing 'fluent' - and a fluent conversationalist sometimes changes the subject.  For example, especially if it's related to the question asked, you can follow with "You know, that reminds me of...", or "Have your heard about....?".  You might also want to bring a prop to the interview.  For example, if you put a book or other interesting item on the table in front of you, it's very possible that theinterviewer will ask you about it - or perhaps you can find a way to bring it into the conversation.
  • Don't memorize - or give a lecture.  Remember that this is meant to be a conversation, not a recording of you reading, saying something you memorized or giving a lecture to your interviewer.  Experienced examiners can hear it if you do this - and it tends to lower your score.

©United Nations, 2006.