17 Linguist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a linguist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Linguists are people who study and analyze language. They work in many different fields, including language teaching, translation, and speech pathology. They may also work with computers to develop language software or to create algorithms that help machines understand human language.

If you want to work as a linguist, you will need to be able to answer questions about your experience and knowledge of different languages. You may also be asked about your understanding of linguistics theory and the use of computers in language analysis. In this guide, we will provide you with sample questions and answers that will help you prepare for a linguist interview.

Are you familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet?

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a standardized alphabet that linguists use to transcribe speech. The IPA consists of over 100 symbols, and your interviewer may ask you this question to see if you have experience with the IPA or other phonetic alphabets. If you are familiar with the IPA, explain how it has helped you in your previous roles.

Example: “Yes, I am very familiar with the IPA. In my last role as a translator, I used the IPA regularly to accurately translate documents from English into Spanish. For example, when translating medical records, I needed to ensure that the patient’s diagnosis was accurate based on their symptoms. Using the IPA allowed me to accurately record what patients were saying so doctors could understand them.”

What are the most important skills for a linguist to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills necessary to succeed in this role. Use your answer to highlight your communication, research and critical thinking skills. You may also want to mention any foreign language skills that you have.

Example: “The most important skill for a linguist is being able to communicate effectively. This means having excellent verbal and written communication skills as well as an ability to translate languages accurately. Another important skill is research. Linguists need to be able to conduct thorough research on various topics. I am always reading up on new information about different languages and cultures. Finally, I think it’s essential for linguists to have strong critical thinking skills. We need to be able to analyze situations carefully before making decisions.”

How do you conduct research?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your research skills and how you apply them in the workplace. When answering, consider describing a time when you used research to solve a problem or answer a question.

Example: “I use several resources to conduct my own research. I often start by searching for information on databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw. If I need more specific information, I’ll search through academic journals and publications. I also look at government websites and other open-source databases. I find that these resources provide me with the most accurate information.”

What is your experience with using computer programming languages?

Linguists often use computer programming languages to create dictionaries and other reference materials. This question helps the interviewer determine your experience with using these types of languages, as well as how you might fit into their organization. If you have previous experience working with computer programming languages, describe what languages you’ve used in the past and explain why you’re qualified for this position.

Example: “I’ve worked with several different computer programming languages throughout my career. I started out learning Java, which is a popular language that’s easy to understand. As I gained more experience, I learned Python, which is another widely-used language that has many applications within linguistics. I also know some basic coding languages like C++ and JavaScript.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to communicate with someone who spoke a different language than you.

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of your communication skills and how you interact with people who speak different languages. Use examples from your past experience to highlight your ability to communicate effectively, even when working with someone who speaks a language that’s unfamiliar to you.

Example: “In my last role as a linguist for the military, I had to work with many foreign nationals who spoke different languages than me. In one instance, I was working with an interpreter who spoke Spanish while I only knew English. However, I used my knowledge of Spanish to understand what the interpreter was saying in order to relay it to the soldiers on the ground.”

If you had to choose, which area of linguistics do you enjoy the most?

This question can help the interviewer get a sense of your interests and passions. It also helps them understand what you might be most passionate about in this role. When answering, consider which area of linguistics you are most familiar with or have experience in.

Example: “I would say that my favorite area is phonology. I find it fascinating how different languages use sounds to create words and communicate ideas. In my last position, I was able to work on a project where we studied the way certain dialects used vowel sounds differently than others. This helped me learn more about the field of phonology and why it’s so important.”

What would you say is the most important discovery in linguistics?

This question is a great way to test your knowledge of the field. It also allows you to show how much you know about linguistics and why it’s important. When answering this question, try to pick something that relates to what you’ve studied or worked on in the past.

Example: “I think the most important discovery in linguistics was Noam Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar. This theory states that all humans are born with an innate ability to learn language. I find this idea fascinating because it shows us just how complex our brains really are. We’re able to learn so many different languages without even trying.”

How well do you think you can adapt to working with other professionals from different fields?

Linguists often work with other professionals from different fields, such as computer scientists and mathematicians. The interviewer wants to know how adaptable you are in a collaborative environment. Use examples of your past experience working with others on projects or teams.

Example: “I have worked with many professionals from different fields throughout my career. I find that the best way to collaborate is by first understanding what each person’s role is within the project. For example, when I was working on a research team at my last job, we had a linguist who specialized in syntax and semantics, a mathematician who specialized in data analysis and a computer scientist who specialized in machine learning. Each of us focused on our individual strengths while also providing support for one another.”

Do you have any questions for us about the position?

This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you have done your research on the position and company. It’s also a chance for you to ask any questions you may have about the job or the hiring process. When preparing for this interview, make sure to read through the job description thoroughly so you can come up with relevant questions.

Example: “I noticed in the job listing that you are looking for someone who has experience working with multiple languages. I am fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, but I’m curious if there is an expectation of learning new languages as part of this role. I would be happy to learn additional languages if it helps me get hired.”

When do you think the most important time is to start learning a new language?

This question can help the interviewer get a sense of your language learning background and how you feel about different age groups. It can also show them what kind of experience you have teaching others languages.

Example: “I think it’s important to start learning a new language as early as possible, especially if you want to become fluent in it. I’ve seen many children who are bilingual or multilingual because they grew up speaking two or more languages at home. They’re able to pick up other languages much easier than adults because their brains are still developing. As an adult, I would recommend starting to learn a new language when you have some free time to dedicate to studying.”

We want to improve our outreach efforts. If you were hired for this position, what types of activities would you do to raise awareness about our language programs?

This question is an opportunity to show your communication skills and how you can use them to promote the organization. Your answer should include a few ideas about what you would do to raise awareness of the language program, including any specific goals or objectives that you would like to achieve.

Example: “I think it’s important for linguists to be able to communicate with the public about our work. I would start by creating a blog where I could write articles about my experiences as a linguist and share information about the languages we’re working on. I would also create social media accounts so that people who are interested in learning more about our programs can follow us online.”

Describe your experience working with students from diverse backgrounds.

Linguists often work with students from diverse backgrounds, so employers ask this question to make sure you have experience working with a variety of people. Use your answer to explain that you enjoy working with all types of people and can adapt to different learning styles.

Example: “I’ve worked as a linguist for the past five years, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different students. Some of my students are native English speakers while others speak their own language at home. I always try to create lessons that cater to each student’s unique needs. For example, if a student is having trouble understanding a concept, I’ll break it down into smaller pieces or use visuals to help them learn.”

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you feel you can contribute to their company. Before your interview, make a list of all the skills and experiences that make you an ideal candidate for this role. Focus on highlighting your most relevant skills and explaining why they are important for this position.

Example: “I am passionate about languages and cultures, which is why I chose to major in linguistics in college. My degree program included many different language courses, including translation and interpretation. I also have experience working as a freelance translator online, where I translated documents from Spanish into English. This work helped me gain valuable experience translating between two languages.”

Which languages do you speak? Are you fluent in any other languages?

This question can help the interviewer determine your language skills and how you might fit into their organization. If they ask this question, it’s likely that they’re looking for someone who speaks multiple languages fluently. You should list any foreign languages you speak and include a brief description of your level of fluency in each one.

Example: “I speak fluent Spanish and French, with intermediate-level proficiency in German and Italian. I’ve been studying these languages since high school, so I’m very comfortable speaking them.”

What do you think is the most important thing linguists can do to help society?

This question can help interviewers understand your values and how you might contribute to the company’s culture. Use examples from your own experience or research to explain what you think is important about linguistics and why it matters.

Example: “I believe that linguists have a responsibility to share their knowledge with others, especially when it comes to helping people communicate more effectively. In my last role as a translator for an international business, I noticed that many of our clients had trouble communicating in English because they didn’t know some basic vocabulary words. I started a weekly newsletter where I shared common phrases and vocabulary so that employees could learn new terms and improve their communication skills.”

How often do you think linguists should update their skills and knowledge?

This question can help interviewers understand how you stay up to date with the latest developments in your field. Your answer should show that you are committed to learning and developing your skills as a linguist. You can also mention any specific ways you have done this in the past, such as taking classes or reading articles.

Example: “I think it’s important for linguists to keep their skills current at all times. I do this by regularly attending conferences where experts present on new research and techniques. I also subscribe to several journals and newsletters so I can read about recent discoveries and advancements in my field.”

There is a new language that no one knows how to speak. What would be your strategy for learning it?

This question is a great way to test your problem-solving skills and how you would approach learning a new language. Your answer should show the interviewer that you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn a new language, even if it’s one that no one has ever spoken before.

Example: “I would start by finding out what sounds the language makes and then try to find someone who speaks similar languages to help me translate. I would also look for any written material or recordings of the language so I could study them and begin to understand the grammar.”


17 Author Interview Questions and Answers

Back to Interview

17 Embryologist Interview Questions and Answers