What Languages (Besides English) Do You Know?

Job Interview Question & Answer: Do You Have Any Language Abilities That Might Assist You In Performing This Job?

The Purpose of the Question

Interviewers find value in candidates who speak different languages because they can communicate with a variety of people. Skills like these also show an appreciation and respect for different cultures. Those qualities make job hopefuls stand out against others. A position requiring this type of knowledge will likely mention so in its listing.

Discrimination Laws

Hiring managers may ask “What languages (besides English) do you know?” However, requesting details such as a first language or how a person obtained their skills is off limits. Questions related to ethnicity break the law, so interviewers cannot legally ask them. Avoid giving answers related to race or origin.

How to Answer “Do You Have Any Language Abilities that Might Assist You in Performing this Job?”

Be honest when addressing the question. Interviewees who have not studied any other languages should instead focus on a desire to learn new things. Mention strengths in adapting to an environment or interest in learning about cultures to make up for a lack of foreign language experience.

Sample Responses

The following examples provide ideas for how to reply to “What language abilities do you have that can help you with this job?” These are just for reference. Prospective workers must describe their own background. Giving false info during a job interview could lead to termination down the road.

Sample Answer 1 – No Language Experience

“I am a quick learner and although I am only versed in English, I pick up on new skills easily. I’m willing to learn if needed, and I am confident in my ability to retain information and use it well.”

Sample Answer 2 – Some Language Ability

“I took online courses to study basic French and Italian. I realize that in this job I may see many people who speak these languages. I think my talent and personality will help me satisfy those patrons.”

Sample Answer 3 – Fluency in Another Language

“I’ve taken Spanish classes throughout my education. I find the culture intriguing and would love to travel to Spain one day. I am fluent in Spanish and feel this will allow me to assist customers who use the same language.”

Things to Keep in Mind

Some jobs involve talking with customers and clients who don’t understand English. Knowing more than one language gives potential employees a leg up in the hiring process. While responding to the question, concentrate on education and past experience that might highlight skills.

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