Growing up bilingual has its perks. For one, speaking two languages means you can think from dual perspectives. On the other hand, there is a double standard when it comes to communicating in a “professional” manner.
In job interviews, English is the preferred language so those who grew up speaking Tagalog or any Filipino language will have to adjust. As such, it goes without saying, you do have to watch your tongue.
Truth be told, something about speaking Taglish became taboo in professional settings. Is it the hierarchy of language? The tone by which we punctuate our sentences? Every seemingly nonsensical Filipino syllable, each na, ba, lang, pa, or ano? Or perhaps the stereotyping of people—here’s where you think about the conyos in your life. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
We asked some HR recruiters: can you speak in Taglish during a job interview?
TL;DR: Yes. No. It depends on your interview. And, “It’s okay but highly discouraged.”
So that’s some good news to those whose first languages are English, Filipino, or somewhere in between. Let’s lay down some scenarios.
Scenario 1: Yes, it’s fine.
You’re comfortable in your seat. The recruiter is asking you about your job experience. What’s important is that you read the room. Look out for body language and listen carefully to the question.
Do they interject a Tagalog word? Is the air comfortable? You may probably—but only lightly—slip in a word or two to your discretion. Keep Taglish to a minimum. Don’t be too chummy—this is a job interview, not a coffee catch-up.
It’s okay to speak Taglish, for example, if your interviewer asks a Taglish question. Follow their lead, but tread carefully. If they open in Filipino, reply back in the same language or ask if you can reply in your preferred language. Code-switch lightly if you’re not confident in your Tagalog.
Don’t do it to an extreme. We’re not talk-show hosts. Always think before you speak. Choose your phrases wisely. If code-switching, make sure it contributes to the discussion or answers the question.
Scenario 2: No. Speak in straight English or Filipino.
So you’ve made it into the interview stage. You’re dressed to the nines. The hiring manager looks sharp and professional. They open with a question in straight English or Tagalog. Why would you want to ruin your hiring chances by speaking in broken tongues?
In cases where you’re applying for a client-facing job, Taglish is a definite no-no. These are jobs like sales, customer service, public relations, communications, and such. They require, obviously, communication skills. So to speak in Taglish during a job interview might just land your resume at the bottom of the pile—or the bin.
Again, in what language did your hiring officer ask the question? That will cue your answer. If they ask in English, answer in straight English. And the same goes for Tagalog.
Keep your answers concise and speak clearly. Be careful of your demeanor, eye contact, tone, and projection as well.
Scenario 3: It depends on the position you’re applying for.
There will be cases where your interviewer will speak to you in Taglish, but it’ll still be better to reply in straight English. Other times, your interviewer may ask a question in English, but your Taglish slips may go by unnoticed.
HR recruiters don’t always mind code-switching in moderation.
Sometimes we can’t help it. Again, we’re bilingual; this is how we talk on the daily. Though take this with a grain of salt. Speaking fluently and directly in a single language is highly encouraged since this maintains your air of professionalism.
What do you think? Have you ever spoken in Taglish at a job interview? How did it affect your application? Let us know! Plus, check out more tips on job interviews and other employment hacks in our Career Conversations section on the Edukasyon.ph blog!