Job interview in English: most common language mistakes

You can listen to this lesson here:

Did you know that most Polish people make the same mistakes in English, in their job interviews in English?

I’ve put together a list of the most common ones, with tips on how to avoid them! I’ve divided them into ( = podzieliłam na) three categories: pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, and I’ve chosen #1 in each of them to show to you today.


Pronunciation is the most neglected ( = zaniedbywany) aspect of speaking English. When new students come to me, they usually say that they have problems with grammar, and some of them want to learn new vocabulary. But actually ( = w rzeczywistości; nie aktualnie!) it is pronunciation that they have the biggest problems with!

Is pronunciation important? Yes! Is it more important in English than in Polish? Yes!

Why? Because English is a different kind of language than Polish, Czech, German, French, Russian – generally, most “civilized” languages. It is a bit like Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Pronunciation is VERY important. When you mispronounce ( = źle wymówisz) a word, you don’t just sound funny, as in Polish. You get a failure ( = porażka) of communication.

The most frequently mispronounced word, in job interviews in English, by Poles, is: development.

This is a classic, and Poles who pronounce it in the right way are few and far between ( = jest ich mało). What you tend to do is stress( = akcentować) the last-but-one syllable ( = przedostatnią), just as the Polish rules of word stress say. So you stress “op.” But in English, the stressed syllable is “vel,” so: deVELopment. This is true for all words in this family: to deVELop, deVELoping, deVELoped, underdeVELoped.

So, at a job interview you might say:

I was responsible for professional development of the whole team.

I like developing new products and ideas.

I’ve applied for this job because I want to develop my marketing skills.

The reason for this mistake are… “firmy deweloperskie” and “deweloperzy”. These words have entered the Polish language, and are used with our Polish word stress. So we tend to transfer the Polish pronunciation rules onto English. As a result, native speakers simply don’t understand us!


By far ( = zdecydowanie) the most ubiquitous ( = rozpowszechniony) grammar mistake is using “few” instead of “a few.” Remember: “few” means “mało,” and “a few” – “kilka.” So you should say:

I’ve worked for Pfizer for a few years.

I have a few months’ experience in banking.

I’ve had a few jobs before applying for this position.

So, when do we use “few”? Almost never! You can forget that this word exists in English, at least for the time being ( = tymczasowo) ;).


Some of the questions at the job interview might ask about specific situations from your previous jobs. For example, “Tell us about a conflict situation which you’ve handled well”, or “Tell us about a time when you failed to achieve your objectives.”

In answering these questions, you often have to mention your supervisor – that is, your boss. But sometimes you forget the word “boss” and – in panic – you copy the Polish word “szef.” And there are two possible results of this calque ( = kalka), both of them disastrous in consequences( = tragiczne w skutkach). OK maybe not disastrous, but funny for sure ;).

Sometimes you say “chef,” for example: “My chef asked me to work overtime for two months”.

But a chef is… the main cook in a restaurant! So this sentence might be true if your last job involved chopping veggies ( = siekanie warzywek) in a restaurant. Not many of you want to say that! 😉

The second possible result is “chief,” as in “One day, I want to be the chief.” The word “chief” has a few meanings, and one of them is… the leader of a tribe of Native Americans, formerly ( = poprzednio) known as Indians. So, “Chief Cloud Dancing” = “wódz Tańcząca Chmura.” Remember Dr Quinn? 😉

So, unless you’re Native American, and unless you’re at a low-level position in a restaurant, the word you want for ”szef” is “boss”, as in:

My boss asked me to work overtime every day.

One day, I’d like to be the boss of your company.

My dream is to be my own boss. (well, this might not be the best thing to say at a job interview, but you get what I mean… 😉 )

I hope this will help you avoid these mistakes, and trump( = wypaść świetnie na) your future job interviews in English! 🙂

Have you made these mistakes in the past? I’ll be happy to learn about your experiences!

Do you need more help in your next job interview in English? Last week I delivered a live training: “Rozmowa o pracę po angielsku. Odpowiedzi na najczęstsze pytania rekruterów na 3 poziomach zaawansowania”. Here’s what the participants said about the content:

Anna: Pomysł genialny, idea wartościowa, podział pod językową umiejętność – bardzo dobre.

Piotr: Gotowce do nauczenia na rozmowę 🙂

Klaudia: Masz super podejście, faktycznie aż podnosi na duchu!

This week, you can buy access to the recording for 47 zlotys. Next week, the price will go up to 97. So, if you want 30 ready answers for job interview questions in English, this is a good opportunity to save 50 zlotys! You can pay with this link, and you’ll get instant access to the video training, and pdf with Power Point slides 🙂

Chcesz dostawać takie bezpłatne lekcje angielskiego co tydzień mailem? Zostaw mi swój adres email!

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