Preparing students for job interviews
Business English is always popular among students. Before getting a dream job, every person has to face a job interview (usually more than one). As teachers, we have to prepare students for these stressful situations. So let’s discuss some possible scenarios!
Students with a high level of English attending an interview
This situation is quite common. Students usually take their first steps in business English as soon as they achieve Intermediate level. At this level, students feel more or less confident speaking English therefore, teachers’ task is to prepare students emotionally as job interviews can be a nerve-racking experience, especially when you don’t feel prepared for them. Teachers should provide an opportunity to work through different questions while practicing and improving students’ listening and speaking skills. Of course, with the variety of interview questions that can be asked these days, it’s hard to know what type of questions you should prepare for, but practice reduces speaking anxiety.
— Practice interview questions
Start with common interview questions:
- Tell us about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- Why should we choose you?
Then continue with job-related question and model answers like “Marketing Interview Questions and Answers”
1. Tell us about a product that you successfully marketed. What was your strategy?
2. Tell me about a marketing campaign you conducted that wasn’t successful. What did you learn from that?
Explore interview questions by job title here.
For this activity I like to use Quizlet a lot as it’s easy to find ready materials there. For example, here are job interview questions. You don’t have to look for different resources. Just download the app and send flashcards to your student to practice.
— Watch job interview videos
Different people behave in different ways. Sometimes others’ ideas inspire us and teach something new (especially in the case of studying foreign languages). It’s useful to watch different examples and analyze them. Here they are:
It’s also a great idea to personalize lessons by choosing videos connected with your student’s field.
— Work with vocabulary
While watching videos and working with questions, it’s essential to note down new phrases/words. Mind mapping is a great idea as well as practising in Quizlet. While working in a classroom, organize roleplays, storytelling, create activities (e.g. fill in the gaps).
One more thing
What if your student has Upper-Intermediate or even higher level? He/she has already learned lots of words, watched all the videos and practised a thousand times. Teachers always have something! Nowadays there is a growing importance of soft-skills. HR specialists always try to check whether you have them. So it’s very useful to focus on this thing and explain to your student the importance of these skills.
Again, as an English teacher, you’re able to train your student’s soft skills by including necessary tasks in your lessons. Here are some ideas:
- Problem-solving skills are easy to develop using the Business case studies approach. Read more about it here.
- Storytelling skills are possible to practice after every single activity. Ask your student to paraphrase texts and audios. For example, let your student tell you about a job interview you’ve watched or sum up texts about job interview etiquette. This skill will be useful if the interviewer would ask to provide more details about your student’s work experience.
- Collaboration is easier when you work with a group. Just divide your students into teams and ask them to make a project or solve a case together. During a job interview, students might be asked questions relating to teamwork. The questions can vary since teamwork looks different in every workplace. Employers are interested in your answers to these questions because they want to know if your work style and experience will benefit their team. So after you students have finished the project or solving the case ask to analyze their teamwork and ask the following questions:
— How do you feel about working in a team environment?
— What makes a team function successfully?
— What strategies would you use to motivate your team?
— Do you feel more energized when you are working alone or when you are working as part of a team?
- Creativity is also not hard to practice if you give a chance to express it. For example, as soon as you finish reading a story, ask a student to create an alternative ending. While analyzing video interviews, ask him/her to imagine “What if” (What if she didn’t come in time, what if she didn’t smile etc.).
Find more ideas here
Students with a Pre-intermediate level of English attending an interview
This case is a bit harder than the previous one. Some teachers even say it’s impossible to teach Business English to low-level learners. Anyway, nowadays students want more and more, so we have to adapt our programme to their needs.
Read an article about this challenge. You may read it later, but now let’s focus on interviews. At this level, it’s important not just practise speaking and listening skills, but also enlarge topic-related vocabulary, work on CV.
We’re going to give some general recommendations.
— Learn basic vocabulary
It’s impossible to get ready for all questions to be asked, but there are some that your students are guaranteed to get asked. Enlarge your student’s vocabulary so that he/she will be able to answer the core interview questions like:
- Tell me about yourself (A safe answer is to give a brief overview that covers where you grew up, where you went to school, why you chose your major, any internship experience you have, and why you’re applying for this job).
- What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
- Give me an example or a situation in which… (This question will be connected with potential workplace scenarios and situations usually about a conflict or difficulty)
- Tell me about this (title/internship) I see on your resume?
- What are your longer-term career goals (or where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years)?
- Why are you interested in this role?
- What do you know about our company?
While working on interviews with low-level learners, don’t forget to give model answers and cliches. I’ve found an amazing video showing typical interview questions and possible answers. In this case, students will feel much more confident during interviews.
— Watch easy videos
It’s better to watch interviews with subtitles.
— Organize more roleplays
It’s a production step and a great chance for your student to demonstrate what he/she has learned after the video. Do not invent new things, just try to repeat dialogues you’ve watched.
Diliara, thank you for the great ideas!