Five tips to write a good essay for a job interview
Today more and more selective processes include an essay. As text specialists we have some tips that work for you to cause a good impression not only at the job interview but also in any situation in which you have to put your ideas on paper. Translators go through this all the time: we are not writers per se, but rather transmitters of other people’s writings – and there lies the difficulty; most times, the original is quite clear but sometimes the text is confusing, truncated and hard to read – and that’s when we come in to ‘help’ – we must translate the original into the target language and think of the readers who will be using the text – we should make it understandable and clear – if possible, in some cases, the translation should be better than the original… (Attention! We are talking of technical translations only!); and that is not being presumptuous, it is just common sense.
1) Think the topic in advance
In most cases the topic of the essay will be related to the professional area. Who am I?,
Professional Life, Goals, Studies, On the Company and Professional Formation are some of the
most common. Even if it is free subject, it is important to connect it to your area of activity.
Forget that classic “My Vacations”. This is your opportunity to project a good image and show
how you can contribute to the company. Thus, you can already have in mind your experiences
in the job market, your activities in previous jobs and your education, thinking how they
contribute to transform you into the professional you are. It is also important to research the
company which you wish to join – besides the general information on the organization, try to
find out the type of cultured environment the company has and the employee profile it is
2) Divide your ideas in paragraphs
In general, the usual format is an essay. Even when this is not directly asked, it is important
that the text would always have a clear structure, with introduction, development and
conclusion in separate paragraphs. Avoid the use of “I” and “In my opinion”: imagine that the
text will be analyzed by persons who don’t know you. So, the ideal is to be the most impartial
possible at the same time being persuasive and pleasant to read.
3) Focus on communication
It is essential that your message will be conveyed to the text reader. Then it is not necessary to
use highly refined or cultured terms; besides, long and boring sentences may end up by
compromising the reading and consequently your chances to get the job. The best strategy is
to use simple and direct language, easily understood; but do not overstate: slang and very
colloquial expressions may cause an impression of negligence or sloppiness – always use the
standard language norm to avoid such risk. Technical terms, jargon and unnecessary words in a
foreign language may also impair the understanding of your message, thus avoid them.
4) Practice makes perfect
Developing your writing skills is a matter of practice; and for that, the answer is practice,
practice, practice. Read argumentative texts from experienced writers and write your own
texts to practice. Whenever possible, ask someone experienced to evaluate them – and, of
course, follow the person’s tips.
5) Revise / Edit your text
This is an essential step which is left aside most of the time. After finishing writing your essay,
read it all again with a sharp eye; look for typos, misguided verb and noun collocations or any
other factor that may confuse the conveyance of your message. This is the time for ‘fine
tuning’ and making everything perfect for the recruiter’s review. After that, you’ll have great
chances to deliver the best essay possible. Good luck!
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