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Background Info

I'm currently working through applications for an internship position and have received a lot of CVs from people whose native language isn't English. This causes a few odd mistakes to appear, some worse than others.

Now, these people applying are generally young and don't always have the available resources to get their CVs checked by someone who can speak the language they are applying in. I tend to look less favourably on such bad practice when they say English is an "advanced language", but still give them a chance in the interview, as spelling and grammar are not always everything.

Question

Is it wise to raise such a mistake to an interviewee? If so, when do you do it? I'd prefer not during the interview as it could get them flustered and it could be their first experience of such a stressful situation. Is there a right time to correct people CVs and give them feedback during the process so they can avoid potential issues later on?

Other notes

I know I do not need to do this, but everyone needs to start somewhere and I feel it's best to give this advice to people when young so they can learn from it.

The closest questions I can find on it are:

But none cover it from the point of the interviewer or are more asking about the possible risks with doing a follow up.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – enderland May 12 '17 at 19:51
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Since you apparently have decided to see past the errors and have the interviews anyway, I would only point out the errors in the feedback following the hire-or-not decision - even if you decide to hire.

In this way, you give them the benefit of the doubt - but also get to point out that not everyone may be as forgiving. That's probably the sort of feedback relatively junior applicants want, but rarely get and will therefore probably be much appreciated.

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    As a non-native english speaker I apreciate constructive criticism. In fact I write in SE sites mostly to exercise my english. Just be sure to keep a cordial tone while point out other mistakes – jean May 12 '17 at 14:20
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Your role as interviewer is not to correct candidates' resumes/CVs.

Either ignore the errors, or downgrade the candidate because of them, but don't waste time correcting it for them. That's not your role in this transaction.

Correcting their resume may send the wrong signal - that you are offering your help in their interviewing or even in their attempts to get hired. That's not something you should be doing, and if you start doing it for one candidate you had better do the same for all candidates without regard to their English language skills.

On the other hand, if you hire them and later become their friend, you may offer help with "correcting" their resume for future use.

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    Correcting their resume may also send another wrong signal - that the candidate is entering an environment of perfectionism and micromanagement. – Lazor May 11 '17 at 16:45
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    why should i not help someone in their attempts to get hired? if i accept them, that's the ultimate help, but rejecting them doesn't mean they don't deserve to get hired elsewhere, so why should i not help with that? – eMBee May 12 '17 at 1:50
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    The biggest problem I have with this answer, is that you're approaching it for someone who's applying for a senior person. I'm talking about kids just out of Uni who don't have the experience. I never mention correcting the CV, but providing feedback stating they need to get their CV checked out should be considered valid. Something along the lines of, you've got spelling and grammar errors in your CV. If it was someone senior, that would get a large markdown in my book, but some young adults need to learn and your stance is removing any opportunity – Draken May 12 '17 at 6:10
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    @DrEval the question is not about what our superiors think, but what is good for the candidate. if it were about superiors, then i'd say if my superiors do not allow me to spend a few minutes helping someone once in a while, then i won't be keeping that job for long. as an employer, as long as my employees performance does not suffer, then i don't mind them being helpful to people. it's a matter of general attitude. today it's an intern, tomorrow it could be a potential customer. (and if my superiors are concerned competitors they might like helping an inferior candidate get a job there ;-) – eMBee May 12 '17 at 9:24
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    @Draken To hear you talk I'd think they award uni degrees to toddlers now in Luxembourg. ;-) These are grown adults who've been through school and uni. They should have picked up on the fact that some people consider perfect spelling important. If they didn't by now, you're not going to say anything that'll change their minds ;-) – AllTheKingsHorses May 12 '17 at 12:23
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If the typo or perceived error on their CV is something that would affect their fitness as a candidate (for instance, listing 22 years of experience when it should be 2 years, or listing their responsibilities as "supervising product lunches" when it should be "supervising product launches") then I would bring it up as a matter of clarification. I wouldn't say "I think you have an error on your CV" but rather "it says you have 22 years of experience in this field, is that correct?" or "your CV says you supervised product lunches, can you talk a bit about that?" This gives the candidate the chance to be forthright and correct the mistake if it is a mistake, without the risk of you looking like a jerk on the off chance that the CV is accurate.

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    mmmm, supervised product lunches – sleddog May 11 '17 at 18:20
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    Reminds me of this - xkcd.com/1834 – gtux May 12 '17 at 6:28
  • That's the source from which I re-appropriated that example - well noticed! – jbh May 12 '17 at 13:18
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I feel like there is no written rule for this. You want to give them something that will help them later on, so I think the first thing to do is to be sure they want to take it.

If the interview is going well, and you feel like the interviewee is feeling relaxed and/or confident, you may evoke his grammatical mistakes. Judging by my own situation (not a native english speaker), I'd gladly accept to have my resume looked up and corrected by a native speaker.

On the other hand, if you feel like the candidate is getting crushed during the interview, he's going to have other things on his mind, and at best it'll just elude him.

In any case, I'd refrain from starting the interview with such feedback.

If I were to receive such feedback, I'd rather receive it at the end of the interview, probably after the questions window, like a casual tip rather than something that could be interpreted as criticism, but before the end as I could want to discuss this feedback.

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Correcting errors that occur due to poor English knowledge is going to have limited value for the person you correct, unles by chance you've had training as a teacher of English for speakers of other languages, and substantial time to spare. They might learn some word was the wrong word in some sentence but are unlikely to learn the reason why or how to apply it elsewhere.

If their English is sufficient for your role - they can communicate with your team, and the job isn't writing sales brochures - ignore it. If you give them a job and want to help them, see if your company will subsidise English language lessons.

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while i think that it is absolutely fine to help a candidate with their CV, especially in this situation where the candidate is still in school and this may be their first application, i do have a few concerns:

during the interview i would not talk about things in the CV that don't help you to decide if this candidate should be accepted. if you already decided that the errors don't matter to you, then i think you may want to look for more important topics to talk about.

helping someone correct their CV might send a signal that you didn't accept them. if you don't want to send that signal, then i'd be very careful with that. this is even more important if you intend to accept the candidate but can't tell them right now. if they get the wrong impression they might accept another position before you can tell them. (especially young people who don't have interviewing experience tend to make rash decisions in fear of loosing out)

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