How to present yourself during a french interview

When you're seeking employment, it's crucial to understand how to present yourself professionally in French. Whether it's during an interview, a conference, or a meeting, you must be able to discuss about yourself, your skills, your motivations, and goals. This is an opportunity to make a favorable impression on a potential employer and position yourself as the ideal candidate for the job. Here's a guide to some key phrases and examples to use during a professional presentation in French.

The initial interaction with the recruiter: "Parlez-moi de vous"

The first interaction with the recruiter is important. Your presentation, even if it’s brief, should capture your audience's attention and establish your credibility. The commonly asked first question is "Parlez-moi de vous." Introduce yourself with simple sentences (name, age, current position). For example, you can use the following phrases for self-introduction:

  • Bonjour, je m'appelle (...) et je suis (...) = Hello, my name is (...) and I am (...).
  • J'ai obtenu mon diplôme de (...) il y a (...) ans en (...) = I graduated from (...) (...) years ago with a degree in (...).
  • J'ai travaillé en tant qu'(...) pendant (...) ans chez (...). = I worked as (...) engineer for (...) years at (...).

Example: “Bonjour. Je m'appelle James et j'ai 38 ans. J’ai obtenu mon diplôme de Harvard il y a quatorze ans en ingénierie. J'ai travaillé en tant qu'ingénieur pendant douze ans chez Microsoft”

Discussing your work experience and skills

The second part of your presentation should demonstrate that you possess the skills and qualities required for the position. You should really read thorough the job description to tailor your responses according to the required skills. Highlight experiences relevant to the position you're interested in and use professional vocabulary. Also, don't forget to conduct some research on the company to distinguish yourself from other candidates.

  • J’ai de l’expérience dans le domaine de/du (...) = I have experience in the field of (...).
  • Par exemple, dans mon poste actuel, je suis responsable de (...) = For example, in my current position, I am in charge of (...).
  • Cela montre que je suis (...) = This shows that I am (...).
  • J’ai d’excellentes compétences en (…) = I have great (…) skills.
  • Au cours de ma carrière, j’ai énormément appris sur (…) = During my career, I learned a lot about (…)

Example: “J’ai de l’expérience dans le domaine de la technologie de l'information (IT). Par exemple, dans mon poste actuel, je suis responsable de la gestion des réseaux informatiques. Cela montre que je suis responsable et capable de gérer les urgences. J’ai d’excellentes compétences en résolution de problèmes. Au cours de ma carrière, j’ai énormément appris sur la programmation.”

Presenting your strengths and weaknesses

It's very likely that the recruiter will ask you the inevitable question about strengths and weaknesses: “Quels sont vos qualités? Et quels sont vos défauts?” How you respond can significantly influence the recruiter's opinion. It's important to prepare for this question and answer it spontaneously. Be honest and focus on your interlocutor's expectations.

What are your strengths?

Highlight qualities related to the job you're applying for. Even though this exercise is challenging, don't be overly modest. Here are some examples of qualities to emphasize during an interview:

  • Organisé(e) = Organized
  • Ambitieux(se) = Ambitious
  • Créatif(ve) = Creative
  • Discipliné(e) = Disciplined
  • Flexible = Flexible
  • Curieux(se) = Curious
  • Empathique = Empathetic
  • De bonne humeur = Good-tempered
  • Aimable = Kind
  • Serviable = Helpful
  • Rigoureux(se) = Rigorous
  • Compréhensif(ve) = Understanding

Here are some examples of phrases to present your qualities in different contexts:

  • “Mon souci du détail est une force essentielle, garantissant constamment un travail de haute qualité.” = “My attention to detail is a key strength, consistently delivering high-quality work.”
  • "Je suis connu(e) pour mon adaptabilité.” = “I'm known for my adaptability”
  • "J'apporte une attitude positive à chaque projet.” = “I bring a positive mindset to every project”
  • “Avec un fort sens de l'initiative, j'identifie proactivement les opportunités.” = “With a strong sense of initiative, I proactively identify opportunities”
  • “Mes solides compétences en organisation se sont manifestées dans ma capacité à gérer plusieurs tâches simultanément” = “My strong organizational skills have been evident in my capacity to manage multiple tasks”

What are your weaknesses?

Flaws are natural, and everyone has them. However, be honest during the job interview and opt for real flaws:

  • Distrait = Distracted
  • Autoritaire = Authoritarian
  • Sensible = Sensitive
  • Indécis(e) = Indecisive
  • Distrait(e) = Thoughtless / absent-minded
  • Étroit(e) d'esprit / Têtu(e) = Narrow-minded / Stubborn
  • Susceptible = Touchy
  • Difficulté à gérer le stress = Struggling under pressure
  • Bavard(e) = Talkative

You can also counterbalance your weaknesses with a positive statement, for example:

  • “Je suis bavard(e) mais je sais quand il est temps de travailler.”= “I'm talkative but I know when it's time to work”
  • “Je suis stressé(e) sous pression mais j'ai récemment commencé des cours de yoga.” = “I am struggling under pressure but I've recently started yoga classes”
  • “Je suis naturellement timide donc je dois faire beaucoup d'efforts pour m'exprimer.” = “I am naturally shy so I have to make a big effort to speak up”

Don't hesitate to ask questions about the company and the position

When your presentation is finished and your interlocutor has asked their questions, you can in turn ask questions about the position and the company to demonstrate your interest and motivation.

For example, you can ask the following questions:

  • “À quoi ressemble une journée type dans votre entreprise?” = “What does a typical day at your company look like?”
  • “Quelle est l'ambiance de travail?” = “What's the working atmosphere like?”
  • “How does the integration process work?” = “Comment fonctionne le processus d'intégration?”
  • “Organisez-vous des activités de renforcement d'équipe?” = “Do you organize team-building activities?”
  • “Est-ce un nouveau poste?” = “Is this a new position?”
  • “Quelles sont les prochaines étapes du processus de recrutement?” = “What are the next steps in the recruitment process?”

Concluding the interview

When the job interview is about to end, don't hesitate to ask the recruiter if they have any further questions. If they don’t, you can then thank them for the time they've spent with you.

  • “Avez-vous d'autres questions?” = “Do you have any other questions?”
  • “Merci beaucoup d'avoir pris le temps de me rencontrer aujourd'hui!” = “Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today!”

Do you wish to improve your professional French skills? Swiss French School offers French courses for businesses to create opportunities for all employees, regardless of their field of activity.

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