How to Hire the “Right” Person




Interviewing candidates to fill a vacant position is an important responsibility for a manager. When done well, the result will be the successful recruitment of excellent employees.

Think about the questions you want to ask. ( I have a few suggestions at the end of this chapter)Review carefully the papers of the applicant so that you do not have to refer to them in the interview.

Watch the body language, the subtle messages that the person is communicating. They are part of the gut feeling that you have of the candidate.

At some point, you will know that this is a person you want or not. If you are interested, start selling the job. Talk about the attractive aspects of working with the company.

Based on my experience, I will now identify some useful tips on how to conduct professional level meetings with prospective candidates.


Review all the materials regarding the candidate beforehand. Have the file with you for reference. Be sure to include any other documents that you need to refer to such as the job description. You may also want to bring some materials for the candidate to review later.

Do not flip through the papers, reviewing the resume, while speaking to the candidate.


Use a conference room or interviewing room if you have one. Do not use your office. It is useful to sit together with the candidate at a table. No interruptions should be permitted. This includes cell phones and assistants pounding at the door.


Make the candidate feel welcome. Start with some small talk at first. Explain the process and then start with an open-ended question. “Tell me about yourself” is a very common one.

Ask questions about what he/she says like “Give me some more details on that.” Or “Could you give me an example?”

Strive for a relaxed, friendly conversational environment. I believe that you will learn more  when the candidate is relaxed and comfortable.


The length of time and the number of interviews depends on the importance of the position. In any case, plan to have adequate time to learn what you need about the candidate. Some thought about the pace and structure of this meeting is helpful.


In the closing part of the interview, if you like the candidate, start selling the position: benefits, work environment, the nature of the position.

Home or the Office?

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 “I don’t want to go to the office and my boss says the same thing.”

One of my clients works for one of the biggest mining companies in Peru. She doesn’t want to go to her  office when the pandemic is over. The strange thing is that she has never been to the office. She was hired virtually after the pandemic started. They interviewed her and offered her the job without ever meeting her in person. She only knows her co/workers through the internet. 

This presents some challenges both for the employer and the new employee. How can she get into the culture of the company? Are remote relationships a good substitute for the real thing? I have encouraged her to make an extensive effort to ask questions and to read as much as possible about the company. 

Her former employer let her go during the pandemic. Consequently she sold her car since she didn’t have to commute to the office. Now if she has to travel to her office, she will need to buy another car. A good reason to stay at home.

More than that, she will have to re-engage with Lima’s horrendous traffic.  I think that workers  are realizing that they put up with the stress of commuting just so they could have a job. 

 Many don’t want to go back to the old ways: traffic jams, polluted air, rude drivers, car expenses. Life is definitely better without these irritations.  Is this attitude  temporary or permanent? Time will tell. 

It is clear that many are deciding to make changes. Some have told me that they miss the chance to be with colleagues and interchange with them. It is a shock, though, when they visit the old office and see it dark and cold without the vitality of the people who work there. 

More than ever, the need for English language skills becomes evident. The above mentioned client landed a job with an American company with operations in Peru.  Some of her interviews were in English and then part of the training program was in that language. There was no English test. The assumption is  that she will be ready to participate in English when needed. 

In some of the company’s meetings a translator is provided. My client has chosen to listen only in English and to do her best to participate in the discussions. This is good for practice and I think it will be noticed by the company as a positive attitude. When given the chance, it is wise to take advantage of the opportunity to practice language skills.

In such a situation it is important to show the motivation to improve our language skills and be ready to use  English whenever it is needed. I believe that there will be a career benefit for those who make this effort. Promotions and advancement in the company can hinge on such things. So why not make the effort?


Photo courtesy of Airfocus on Unsplash

You have to make an important presentation, but it has to be in English, not your native language. Still, it is possible to put together a really good presentation. It takes hard work, planning and practice. Along the way, the help of a professional can make all the difference. Here are a few examples. Larry Pitman 


My client was a Vice-president for Citi-bank who was invited to make a presentation at an international meeting where top executives from the bank would be in the audience. English is not her first language. We worked together so that the presentation was clear, concise, and contained some interesting stories. We then practiced the presentation until she was confident and calm. It went so well that she was invited to return as a special presenter the following year. 


My client was the Director of Marketing for a pharmaceutical firm. He needed to present the annual results at a regional meeting for the Americas. A brand-new vice president for the region was going to be present and my client knew that this was the time to make a good impression. There were many errors on the slides and the sequence was unclear. We rewrote the presentation, practiced it thoroughly working on his English and he received lots of praise for an outstanding presentation


My client was a senior government official in Peru. She was invited to make a presentation at an international conference in South Africa. Only ten minutes were allocated for the presentation and the material her staff had developed was at least 50 minutes. We had to hone down the presentation to focus on the most important points. As a result of her presentation, she was then invited to make another presentation at a meeting of the International Monetary fund in Washington, D.C. 


A well-known Peruvian journalist was invited to be a moderator for a panel on Economic Development at the World Bank Annual Meeting. We worked together to formulate a strategy so that the panel functioned smoothly in English. The session received high approval ratings from the audience and my client received a letter of praise from the Director of the World Bank. She was invited to moderate two more meetings at the next session.


My client was a Senior Manager at Price-Waterhouse. He wanted to study for an MBA at a prestigious university in the United States. His conversational English was low intermediate. He had interviews with top MBA programs coming up. We worked intensively and he received an offer from the university where he is now studying. We also worked on a strategy for him to receive the most from his MBA experience. 

Who are you? And What do you want?

Larry Pitman

More and more we have to state clearly what we want and why we should get it.

It could be a resume, a portfolio,  a statement of purpose, or an offering of a skill on a freelance website. 

These documents are important, but not for the reason that most people think.  

They are instruments of deep reflection. Or should be in my opinion. They represent some hard thinking about what we have to offer.

 What skills do we have that others will value?

 What products or services do we want to provide?

 More than that, it is a close examination of what we want out of life. 

The language we use needs to be short, clear, and direct.

 Often we are told that it cannot be more than one page or one paragraph or even one sentence. 

Sounds like hard work and it is. 

Too few of us do it propèrly.

There is no magic formula and no guru to tell you what to do. 

You can take the easy way out and do whatever comes along. 

To have a good life, though, we need to connect with something that matters

The world of work is changing rapidly  and we all need to answer the questions:

Who are we? 

What do we want?

Talking Business

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When people “talk business”, what do they talk about? It can vary from industry to industry, but there are some things in common. 

 Whether the business is a tiny mom-and-pop or a giant corporation,  the discussions will often relate to numbers or metrics. 

My specialty is financial English. My clients are managers. Their English is good, but they often stumble when dealing with numbers and this is of concern to me.  I remember one client who was an oil trader. He told me that all his transactions were on the phone and in English. I imagined him making an order for thirty million dollars and the person on the other end heard thirteen million. Of course, they have a backup system to avoid these confusions, but it would be an embarrassing mistake. 

 When I ask what is a million, a billion, or a trillion, I get blank stares. When I ask them to read big numbers, they are unsure.  To function comfortably, I believe the manager should speak the language of numbers well. 

Numbers dominate the language of business because the goal of a business is to make a profit. They tell management what they need to know. Crunching the numbers in business is the same as the doctor taking the temperature of a patient. Every savvy business person needs to watch cash flow, net income, profit and loss, sales, price point, gross margin, and total inventory. That is mind-boggling to a non-business person. 

There are so many things that managers need to know. For example, who or what is aiding the company reach its’ goals or who or what is not performing in a way to contribute to profit? All of these different factors are expressed in numbers. The need to measure performance is vital to business.

Listen to managers’ discussions and you will hear terms like DCF, ROE, KPI, and EBITDA among others. In addition, piles of surveys on all sorts of different aspects of performance are analyzed. The average manager is awash in figures. 

Keeping up is important. There are always new analytics or new metrics. Of course, people in business talk about other things than numbers. Still, you had better be ready to talk in numbers intelligently, using the most fashionable metrics, because that is a big part of talking business. 

The Purple Mustache

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Here is a riddle for you:

What is grey with a purple fringe and moves when someone talks?

Give up?

 It is a man with a mustache who is drinking Chicha Morada.

That’s me!

When you are invited to a home for a meal or go to a restaurant that serves Creole food in Lima, Peru, it is likely that you will be offered this non-alcoholic drink. Morada means purple in Spanish and this is a purple which is almost black. Served well chilled, it is a very refreshing drink, especially in the summer.  

Purple is the royal color and Chicha Morada, made from purple corn, is definitely a drink for royalty. In fact, it was an important part of ceremonial life in Inca culture. 

We’re definitely not royalty but Chicha is also a favorite drink in our home. It takes some work, but when Jessie, our house helper, cooks, she is sure to make some for our lunch. I think that it is her favorite drink, and that is why she makes it so often. Anyway, as with everything that Jessie cooks, sometimes it is excellent and other times not so good. You might say that she is brilliantly inconsistent.  We never know how it is going to turn out. 

This is important because my wife has a fine-tuned palate when it comes to Chicha.  She can tell in an instant if it is good or not. Generally, Jessie makes it too sweet for our taste and my wife needs to make an adjustment with some extra lime juice. 

When we go to restaurants, we all pause to let my wife sample the drink and give her approval. When she gives the blessing then we all plunge in to enjoy the beverage. If she doesn’t like it, back to the kitchen it goes. Her nose is unfailing. I have never known her to be wrong. In this regard she is like a wine snob only for chicha Morada.

Chicha Morada is made by boiling the shucked purple corn kernels along with the cobs, cinnamon, cloves, cherries, quinces, apple and the skin of a pineapple. Add sugar, lime juice to taste and pop into the refrigerator to serve later well chilled. We like it with less sugar and more lime juice so that it has a tangy flavor. Usually it is served with chopped fruit and cinnamon. 

We like it fresh, but others prefer to let it sit for a few days. 

Chicha is so purple that if I spill some on the tablecloth or on my shirt, I will be in deep trouble. I handle this precious liquid with extreme care

Not only is Chicha tasty; it is good for you since it is high in antioxidants.   

So, drink up.

Writing Well When English Is Not Your First Language

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Writing well is difficult in any event. Writing well in another language is an even greater challenge. I salute the people who do this in English.

My purpose here is to help those who struggle with the language and strive for a better performance in English.

The Trend in Business Is English Only

The need for better performance in English is growing. Many international companies and organizations have changed to English only. All communications within the company or organization must be in English  For non-native speakers of English this is a special challenge. 

For the past thirteen years, I have been coaching managers in business and government who need to perform in English even though that is not their first language. In the course of their duties, they write reports, make presentations, and participate in meetings. All in English. Performance at a high level is expected. 

Performance Is the Key

Let me give you an example. 

Someone I know worked for the World Bank and her monthly reports were routinely rejected. She was the Country Director in a South American country and her reports were too wordy. She was thinking in Spanish and writing in English, a more direct and succinct language. Her supervisor, who had to read many reports, wanted something short and sweet. My friend resisted making the  change and eventually lost her job. 

 What Is the Path to Improving Performance?

I recommend two strategies: One is long term and the other is a checklist for review when submitting a document.

There are three things that you need to do over a long period:

Read extensively in English. 

It can be fiction or nonfiction. Try to get a feel for the language. Observe how adept writers perform. Take note of how the writer treats the subject. How it grabs your attention. Is it smooth and well connected? 

     Get in the mental frame of written English. An excellent     book for this is On Writing Well by  William Zinsser. Read also in your field and use the best writers as models. It is OK to copy the style of someone you admire. 

Write Every Day

Practice every day. I know that it is stressful to write in another language. That is why many don’t do it. 

To improve, though,  you must practice. Make it a daily routine. It doesn’t have to be much, a few short paragraphs will do. Write quickly and do not stop to edit or look for vocabulary. Do that later.

Avoid constant interruptions to make corrections. These make writing much slower. Get the thought down and, at another time, edit and look for words in the dictionary.

Work to expand your vocabulary. 

Along with reading, make a big effort to add to your vocabulary. The more words you have in your frontal brain, the better. This is also important for general knowledge. 5 tips for efficient vocabulary learning by Fluent up gives you some useful ideas on how to increase your vocabulary.  Also, update your technical vocabulary in your field.  

The Effort is Big as is the Reward  

I know that these steps take discipline. The reward is to have an important skill added to your arsenal. If you want to move up in your organization, writing well may be important. Be patient. Accept it as a challenge. It is worth it. To write well in any language is an asset. To write well in another language such as English sets you apart. In this globalized world of business and science, English is the official language. A strong competence will be a great career asset.

Now for the checklist before submitting your document, an excellent article to review before submitting is by Stephanie Thurnott How to Take Your Writing From Okay to Awesome.

I suggest you review these items before submitting:

  1. Is it succinct?

Sentences in English tend to be short, 12 to 16 words. Following along, select short words rather than long ones.

Eliminate complicated sentences. Break them up. Review your document on Hemmingway, a free app for editing. It will tell you if your sentences are too complicated. 

  1. Is it direct? 

Is the message of your writing clear? Don’t make the reader guess. Come out with it right away. I repeat. Hit them with the main point between the eyes. 

  1. Does it have a hook?

Do you grab the reader’s attention right from the first?

  1. Do you back up what you say with some evidence– an example or some information?

The ideal is to have a well educated, tough-minded native speaker review your work. It is pure luck if you have someone like this available to you. In this regard, I am willing to work with a few highly motivated individuals. You can contact me through Linkedin. 

Be patient and persistent.It is worth the effort. You have something valuable to communicate. Share that with your readers.

Becoming More Fluent in English


The secret to success in almost any learning situation is hard work. Look for every possible way to connect with English. Make it part of your daily routine. I find that this constant connection really pays off. After a while, it just becomes part of your life and you don’t even need to think about it.


You can’t learn a language by being silent. Fear of making mistakes will keep you silent. This is a time to be bold and jump into the cold wáter. People will not laugh at you. They will enjoy your attempts to speak their language.


You don’t have to learn everything about English. Be selective. In business we have specific skills you may need for your job. For example, if you need to write reports for the Home Office, concentrate on that. If you need to talk to clients on the phone, work on that.


In learning anything, attitude is extremely important. Learning a language is difficult if you are not motivated. Check your reasons and ask yourself honestly why you are learning a language. If it really doesn’t get you excited, do something else. Find ways to connect with the language that give you pleasure. Don’t suffer!


Most English teachers are obsessed with grammar, but the truth is that it isn’t that important.
Learn to speak and then learn the rules. Don’t let grammar hinder your progress.


I’m sorry to tell you that language learning has no end. It is a process that will continue the rest of your life. There is no magic point when you know everything.


Thinking is not good. If you pause to translate from your language to English, you are making your life more difficult. Practice will cure this habit.


Sorry, there is no language learning gene. Nor is there a specific talent that gives you an ear for the language. It doesn’t matter if you are old or young, you can learn. All sorts of recent research backs this up. The secret is following the tips listed above.

As a Business English Coach I work with a very limited number of select clients.If you are serious about your business career and need to perform well in English you may contact me through this website.

Care and Nurturing of Bosses

The care and nurturing of your boss has an impact on your success as a manager. Keeping your boss happy is a priority. All sorts of good things can happen: a promotion, a pay raise, a steady flow of praise and access to interesting assignments.

An unhappy boss can make your life miserable. Sometimes you can have a boss who is a bad person. In those cases, it is wise to seeker greener pastures with a better boss. Suffering abuse from your supervisor is not a good idea.
Of course, there are limits to what you should do for your boss. Draw the line at illegal or immoral actions.

Let’s look at a few things that you can do to help your boss do his or her job better. The idea is to make your boss look good for his/her boss.


Make sure that your boss is completely informed about your activities and those of your unit. It doesn’t look good to his/her superiors when your boss is clearly out of the loop.


When something bad happens, make sure your boss is the first one to know. Indeed, if there is even a possibility that something bad is going to happen, your boss should know about it. It is very embarrassing to have a disaster on your hands and not be able to explain what is going on.


You have a success: your department wins an award, gets a big new contract, increases profits, etc. Let your boss know so that he/she can share in the glory.


Sometimes managers have to make difficult decisions. They can even be wrong. Do not go around complaining to everybody about a decision your boss made. If you disagree, talk to her or him in private. To your staff and the rest of the company, express support for your boss or keep silent. Bad-mouthing your superior will come back on you.


If you promise to do something, or your boss asks you to do something, do it. That also means doing it well and on time. By your actions, your boss will know that he or she can depend on you.


Sometimes managers who don’t like a decision of their boss will go to the next level, their bosses’ boss. This is called short circuiting. Try to avoid doing this unless it is an absolutely desperate situation. It could mean the end of your employment with the company



Seven Tips For Virtual Job Interviews

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 The game has changed. Interviewing for a job is no longer face-to-face in most cases. Instead, it will be virtual and this may continue even after the pandemic is over. In the past, initial interviews were conducted over the phone audio-only. That meant that non-native speakers of English were at a disadvantage.  It is more difficult to communicate when you don’t see the other person. You don’t get the visual cues to help you understand what the other person is saying. 

Now the challenge is to appear at your best as you are interviewed on Zoom or some other virtual carrier. I think that evens the playing field somewhat for the non-native speaker. 

My purpose is to give you some tips on how to perform well on the screen as you are interviewed for a new job. Here are seven tips for you in regard to a successful interview virtually

1. Professional appearance

Be ready before the call. When you activate your camera, check your background. If it is messy, go to a white screen. Dress appropriately.  

2.Make sure the sound is good.

Verify that you can hear the interviewer well and they can hear you. 

3. Look at the camera.

When checking the camera, take note of the position of your face on the screen. Eye contact is important.  You should be looking straightforward rather than up or down. The goal is to provide a normal conversational mode. 

4. Calm and Confident

Project a calm and confident personality. You achieve this by being prepared. Remember that the camera reveals a lot, perhaps even more than in a face-to-face interview. 

5. Practice beforehand

Practice the anticipated questions you will experience. Record them and listen to your answers. Have some stories ready to illustrate your achievements relevant to the position. 

6. Do your research

Know about the job. Read the position description carefully. Learn as much as you can about the company. 

7. Short answers

Limit your answers to around two minutes. Be clear. 

We are in a time of change. To be successful we need to adapt and respond to the opportunities that come our way. Good luck!

Larry Pitman is a Business English Coach who helps condidates achieve peak performance when interviewing for a job

Learning Better Engish:Tips for Managers

(Larry now has a podcast,The Expatriate Manager. Look for it on your podcast provider)

Managers Need to Use English Well

Ok, so you have heard a lot of people say that you need better English. You are tired of hearing it. But, how can you improve? You are busy. Where is the time for this along with everything else?

Analyze Your Needs

First, I suggest that you analyze your need for English on the job. For example, if you have trouble listening to telephone conversations or in meetings, you need to work more on your listening.
If you have to write reports in English for the home office, then you need to work on your writing. Be very practical. Zero in on your needs. Don’t try to do everything at once.

Set Goals

I find that students who have no specific goals, get discouraged. They need something that will make the time and effort worthwhile. A clear, measurable goal gives you a purpose.
Once you have identified your needs, think about how you can improve.

What are the resources available to you?

Perhaps you need a good teacher. A one on one relationship with a teacher is often the most effective to meet your specific goal.
Or it may be possible to do the work on your own. For example, to improve listening skills you can start listening to newscasts in English.
Many resources are available on the internet. Most of them are free. Or you can use some of the many apps developed to help with English on the cell phone.

Allocate Time

Whatever you do, it is important to allocate time for this and do it consistently. Even if it is just a few minutes a day, you will see results. But it must be every day.
Here are some more specific suggestions on what you can do to improve your English:

Learn English on-line

A variety of resources are available which you can identify by going on You Tube or using a search engine. You need to shop around to find one that fits your learning style and budget. If you want personalized instruction, individual tutors are available, but at a cost.

Find a Good Teacher

For a manager I believe it is important to find someone who understands business and knows how to teach English. The teacher should also be willing to adapt the course to meet your needs. In addition, a good teacher student relationship is important. This means that you have respect and liking for the teacher. It is not easy to find this combination, but it is worth it. Be ready to pay more for a really good teacher. It is worth it because I believe that this is the most effective way to learn so you will accomplish your goals in a much shorter time.

Use your commute time

Time to practice English may be limited. However, most of us do have a block of time travelling to and from work. If you are going in a crowded bus or train, you could use the time to listen with earphones to English newscasts or podcasts. If you are driving by yourself, you can listen, sing, or talk in English and no one will complain.Even if you are working at home now, you can allocate some extra time to do some fun practice with English

Connect with resources in your company

Within your company, you may find support for your desire to improve your English. Maybe they will pay for your lessons. Perhaps there are some native speakers of English in the company that you could chat with. Look around and see what is available.

Relax and enjoy

I believe that we learn best when we are relaxed and enjoy what we are doing. Try to connect English with the things that you like. For example if you like tennis, read magazines about tennis, watch matches in English, look for native speakers of English who also like tennis.

⦁ Analyze Your Needs for English
⦁ Look for the most efficient strategies to learn English
⦁ Look for resources easily available to you

Learn to be efficient and effective in learning English. Here are some suggestions in greater detail.

Larry is a Business English Coach who works with clients who need to perform well at critical points in their professional life: interviewing for a job,applying for an MBA program, presenting at an important meeting. You can contact him at larry.pitman@gmail.com