How to prepare students for interviews
Preparing for an interview takes a lot more than just speaking practice, a lot of preparation is needed. In fact hours of preparation! See preparation as the framework and guide you will follow during the lessons leading up to D-day, in this case, “I — Day”, interview day.
I can proudly say that I have worked with many Skyeng clients and successfully assisted these clients in securing jobs with Google, Facebook*, and Microsoft across the globe.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Building the profile
One of the first things you need to do when training your student for an interview is to help build their resume and work through it step-by-step, memorizing it so that your student is confident during their interview.
If your student already has a resume make sure to work through it with him/her and improve the resume by means of synonyms idioms and expressions. This way the students’ vocabulary is enriched and makes it pleasant for the listener during the interview process.
Do your research
It’s important that you and the student are aware of the job description and have information regarding the company in order to prepare for this job interview.
Once you have information you will easily be able to formulate common questions that the student can expect during the interview process. It’s better to have answers to questions and be prepared than be faced with a question you have no answer to.
Follow the links below to see common questions you can expect during a job interview. <
«English job interview questions»
«10 interview questions in English»
«Job interview lesson for ESL»
Here is my absolute go to when preparing a questions and answers sheet for my students.
You can use these questions as a guide, copy & paste them to Google Sheets and work through them with your students and improve and enhance their answers by means of introducing new vocabularies such as phrasal verbs and synonyms. This will also make very clear where the student needs to do more work and where the student has to improve.
Why do you think you are a great candidate for this job?
Tell us more about yourself?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Tell us about a time you overcame an obstacle?
It’s important that your student practices as much as he or she possibly can. You should remind them that what you put in is what you will get out. If they do not practice and try and memorize the changes that you suggested then they will be unprepared for their interview resulting in an extreme waste of time and nerves. As teachers, we are walking this journey with them. Advise your student to have a mock interview with you or a friend and practice some of the suggestions that you have discussed and of course, answer some of the questions without using the notes that you have written down prior.
A mock interview will again clearly show what areas need more work on.
Remember we are more than just language teachers sometimes we teach some important skills. You might want to discuss with your student how they will be getting to the interview, what time they are preparing to leave the house, how are they planning to start their day before the interview. Discuss alternative routes. Try to motivate your student to get up earlier and have a good breakfast. Leave enough time between eating and leaving your house for in case your stomach might be upset! It sounds horrible, I know! But it’s true!
These things happen, the last thing you want is an upset stomach 10 minutes before you were supposed to have a life-changing interview. Can you imagine? It sounds pretty obvious but people tend to forget these little important things.
A lot of people tend to forget that body language plays such an important role in interviewing. It’s probably the first thing an interviewer or recruiter will notice about you.
Although you might not be the one interviewing, I want you to get up right now! Yes, you get up from your seat and go to the mirror and have a mock interview with yourself.
What does your body look like? Are you standing up straight? Do you look tense? Make sure that your student knows that body language is extremely important!
Does he have a firm handshake? What are his/her impressions of someone if he/she doesn’t receive a firm handshake? Is the company he’s interviewing with a British company? An American company? Does he know the culture? These are all the little things that need to be considered when preparing for an interview.
Sometimes when people get nervous they tend to mix-up past tense, present tense and future tense. Make sure that your student is confident and using these tenses correctly under stress. Again this might sound very very simple but this can be a great turn off for a recruiter.
Check out our Skyteach worksheet.
Have an opening line!
Work together with your student and write a killer opening line that will make all in the room jaws drop. Why do we need an opening line? Well, it’s quite simple. You want to catch the listeners attention of course.
When you memorize a strong opening line you increase your chances of feeling confident and also remembering the rest of your spiel and you also will feel more prepared when an unexpected question comes your way.
Remind your student that it is completely ok to be uncertain when a question arises he or she does not feel confident to answer. It’s ok for your student to ask the interviewer: “May I have a moment to think of my answer, please?”. Rather ask than have an ill-prepared or incorrect answer, right?
Let’s wrap up:
- Who is the company? What does the role entail? You and your student should do research on this.
- Build and review the CV/Resume. Improve it!
- Memorize the CV and formulate a speech.
- Formulate possible questions together on a google sheet. Have your student answer these questions. Make improvements and suggestions. Enhance vocabulary. Ensure that tenses are used correctly.
- Mock sessions. Host mock interviews until your student become more fluent and confident in answers the questions you have prepared. Please make sure the student does not use the notes. Make sure he or she uses a mirror when preparing their spiel.
- Work on a strong opening line to make a great first impression.
- Research the company culture. Handshakes are important in some Western countries.
- Come up with an action plan for the day of the interview. Sometimes nerves make us do silly things!
Also, read my article on preparing students for public speaking, you will have a good idea of what it entails to prepare your student for speaking confidently, whether it’s for a conference, private, presentations or interviews.