Best foot forward

中国日报网 2015-07-14 10:38



Reader question:Best foot forward

Please explain “best foot forward” in this headline: Put Your Best Foot Forward In The Job Interview. “Best foot”?

My comments:

Or rather better foot, as you have only two feet instead of three – so there’s no best foot to speak of really.


Really, but never mind. Language is for using rather than quibble or quarrel (even though most people seem to make the best use of their language for the latter purpose only). You can’t fault an idiom for its grammar no matter how odd and awkward it sounds to the foreign ear.

We foreigners have just to do one thing – hear what the native speaker has to say and repeat after them. That’s a baby’s way to learn, yes, and the only way to learn.

Anyways, in asking you to put your best foot forward, they’re telling you to prepare yourself the best you can and make the best initial impression you can.

Initial is the crucial element here. We begin to walk by moving a foot forward. Hence, to put our best foot forward means literally for us to kick start a walk or journey or any other endeavor with our best effort.

In a job interview, the interviewee may first ask you, for example, why do you want to work for their company?

To say that “Daddy sent me here, and I really don’t care” apparently won’t do – unless, of course, you’re applying for a job in a government agency where your father is a big potato and his words carry more weight than your own. In that case, you might be able to get the job no matter how poorly you perform going though the interview process.

In normal circumstances when people do have to answer questions properly and nail a job on their own merit, you do need to be well prepared and give to-the-point answers, don’t you?

Especially answers to the first questions. There are surveys that conclude that something like one in three employers know within 90 seconds whether or not they will hire that candidate. So a good first impression is important.

In other words, it’s important to put your best foot forward and begin right.

Begin right and you’re halfway there, as we Chinese sometimes say.

Or as the English speaking people like to say, all is well that begins well.

Make that “ends well”, but you get my joke – and point.

Alright, here are media examples of people attempting to put their best foot, not better foot, forward, giving their best effort and giving their all:

1. CRICKET legend Ian Botham put his best foot forward to lead more than 600 students and staff on his latest charity walk.

The former England all-rounder, renowned for his nationwide sponsored treks, visited Thorne’s Trinity Academy to take children on a four-mile walk around the town.

During the visit the special guest was taken on a tour of the academy by students and watched young cricketers in action.

Mr Botham, whose wife Kath was a pupil at Thorne Grammar School and whose mother-in-law Jan Waller lives in Thorne, also took part in a question and answer session with students in the academy’s 450-seat lecture theatre.

Academy Principal Ian Brew said: “We are delighted that Ian Botham took time out of his busy schedule to visit the academy, to meet our students and staff and, of course, to lead our sponsored walk.

“Ian is renowned for his charity walks and the immense amount of money they have generated. While our walk was on a much smaller scale than he is used to, it was very exciting for the students to play their part in their own sponsored walk with such a high profile guest.”

- Beefy Botham puts his best foot forward at academy,, June 29, 2006.

2. One of the most remarkable runs in tennis history came to an end today in Monte Carlo, adding thickness to the plot of tennis’s most vibrant rivalry.

Novak Djokovic’s 6-2, 7-6(1) victory over Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters final marks the indomitable Spaniard’s first defeat at the event in a decade. It also snaps an almost implausible 46-match winning streak for Nadal at the idyllic Monte Carlo Country Club.

Though not as important as the French Open in the grand scheme, Monte Carlo was always the place where Nadal’s beastly clay-court game was unveiled each year.

“After all the success I had here in my career, someday must arrive that day,” said an introspective Nadal after the match. “When somebody plays that good like Novak played today, it’s very difficult to win.”

With Djokovic nursing an ankle injury early in the week, and Nadal reeling off easy victories in typical swashbuckling form, a ninth consecutive title for Nadal seemed to be in the cards. But Djokovic, gaining in focus—and confidence in the ankle— with each successive triumph this week, rose up at just the right time to peak in today’s final.

“I’m very thrilled, full of joy at this moment” said Djokovic. “I beat the best player ever in the history of this court, and we all know how good his record in Monte Carlo is—eight titles in a row—and he let me win once. I’m just so happy because maybe it’s not the biggest tournament in the world but for me it’s one of the most important.”

After a rain delay pushed the start of the match back forty-five minutes, Djokovic started with his best foot forward, winning 24 of the first 36 points and taking the first five games.

- Djokovic Ends Nadal’s Reign of Terror in Monte Carlo,, April 21, 2013.

3. A local deputy is putting his best foot forward in the fight against domestic violence and sex assault. It’s all a part of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Campaign.

Major Harold Heatley with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office pledged to raise $2,000 for the campaign organized by Clinch Valley Community Action in Tazewell.

Heatley said if he reaches his goal, he will not only walk a mile in high heels at the track at Tazewell High School, but he will do it with a dress and wig.

Heatley said, “For me it's just another way to show how much we really do support Tazewell County. We want our citizens to know that we are more than just a badge. We really appreciated our citizens.”

- Local Deputy Pledges To Walk A Mile In Her Shoes,, Mar 13, 2015.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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