19.02.2019
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Revise the tenses for a successful job interview (Worksheet for Pre-Intermediate level)

Recently one of my low intermediate students has failed his job interview because of English. An HR manager asked him two or three simple questions but he mixed up all the tenses in his answer and couldn’t prove that his level was intermediate. He probably got confused. So we decided to spend a couple of lessons on revising the tenses that he needed for his next job interview.

Here is a worksheet for pre-intermediate level that we used. It includes the Present Simple, the Present Continuous, the Present Perfect, the Past Simple, to be going to and will. Correct use of those tenses is a required minimum for any job interview.

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Table of contents:

Task 1. Discuss the questions in pairs

  1. Have you ever had a job interview in English? If yes, how did it go? What went well/wrong?
  2. How do you feel about a job interview in English?

Read as well:

Task 2. Read the questions usually asked by a hiring manager

What time do they refer to P (the past), PR (the present) or F (the future)?

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  2. Are you looking for a permanent or a temporary job?
  3. Do you prefer to work with other people or by yourself?
  4. Why are you applying for this job?
  5. Why did you leave your last job?
  6. Why are you leaving your current job?
  7. Have you ever had any problems at work? How did you deal with them?
  8. What was your favourite area of study?
  9. Can you explain why you changed career paths?
  10. What are you going to do the first 30 days in your new job?did you deal with them?
  11. What have you done recently to keep yourself up to date in your chosen profession?
  12. What did you learn in your previous job?
  13. What are your salary expectations?
  14. How will your life change in 10 years?
Discuss:
  • What questions would you like to answer?
  • Which questions would you avoid answering? Why?
Keys:
  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Pr
  2. Are you looking for a permanent or a temporary job? Pr
  3. Do you prefer to work with other people or by yourself? Pr
  4. Why are you applying for this job? Pr
  5. Why did you leave your last job? P
  6. Why are you leaving your current job? Pr
  7. Have you ever had any problems at work? How did you deal with them? P
  8. What was your favourite area of study? P
  9. Can you explain why you changed career paths? P
  10. What are you going to do the first 30 days in your new job? F
  11. What have you done recently to keep yourself up to date in your chosen profession? P
  12. What did you learn in your previous job? P
  13. What are your salary expectations? Pr
  14. How will your life change in 10 years? F

Task 3. Match the tenses and their use

Then add more examples to the section “I will use this tense to talk about…”

Use:

A. Future plans and predictions
B. Finished actions in the past
C. Things that happen regularly
D. Recently finished actions and past experiences
E. Actions that are happening now and future arrangements
F. Instant decisions and offers/promises

TensePresent
Simple
Present
Continuous
Past SimplePresent
Perfect
be going towill
Use
I will use this tense to talk about…
Keys:
TensePresent
Simple
Present
Continuous
Past SimplePresent
Perfect
be going towill
Usethings that
happen
regularly
actions that
are happening
now and future
arrangements
finished actions
in the past
recently
finished
actions and
past
experiences
future plans
and predictions
instant
decisions and
offers/promises
I will use this tense to talk about…my
personality
the reasons
why I’m
looking for
my education
and qualifications
a project
which I’ve
accomplished
recently
my plans for
self-development
how my life
will change
dreams and
 ambitions
my previous
job

Task 4. Complete the gaps with the correct form of the verb

What questions is the person answering?

A question: ________________________________

An answer:

I _____ (not need) to be trained. I _____ (have) more than 15 years of education and experience related to this position. More than six of those years _____ (be) in management positions similar to the one available here. In my last position, I _____ (get) promoted three times in the six years I was there.

A question: ________________________________

An answer:

I _____ (need) to learn to be more patient. I often _____ (do) things myself just because I know I can do them faster and better than someone else. This trait _____ (not let) me be good at delegating tasks. But I _____ (work) on it now.

A question: ________________________________

An answer:

As you know, I _____ (just/complete) an intensive program in the area of information technology. In addition, I _____ (have) more than three years of work experience in a variety of business settings. I _____ (manage) a small business during the absence of the owner. I _____ (learn) to handle money there and do a variety of basic accounting tasks. 

Because I _____ (be) new to this career, I _____ (be) to work harder and spend extra time to meet any deadlines.

A question: ________________________________

An answer:

I ____(leave) my previous job because of a personality conflict. I___(receive) several promotions, and as my authority increased, there ___(be) more conflicts with my former employer. Our styles were just not the same. I __(have) no idea the problem was so serious because I was so involved in my work.

A question: ________________________________

An answer:

I _____ (spend) a lot of time considering various careers, and I think that this is the best area for me. This career _____ (require) many of my strongest skills. For example, my abilities in analyzing and solving problems are two of the skills I _____ (enjoy) using most. In a previous position, I _____ (notice) a problem before somebody else and _____ (develop) a solution. So I _____ (do) my best to become a valuable asset for your company.

Adapted from the book Next-day job interview

Discuss:
  • How would you answer the questions above?
Keys:
A question: Why should we hire you?

An answer:

 I don’t need to be trained. I had more than 15 years of education and experience related to this position. More than six of those years have been in management positions similar to the one available here. In my last position, I got promoted three times in the six years I was there.

A question: What are your main weaknesses?

An answer:

 I need to learn to be more patient. I often do things myself just because I know I can do them faster and better than someone else. This trait hasn’t let me be good at delegating tasks. But I’m working on it now.

A question: How does your previous experience relate to the jobs we have here?

An answer:

As you know, I have just completed an intensive program in the area of information technology. In addition, I have more than three years of work experience in a variety of business settings. I managed a small business during the absence of the owner. I learnt to handle money there and do a variety of basic accounting tasks.

Because I am new to this career, I’m going to work harder and spend extra time to meet any deadlines.

A question: Why did you leave your previous job?

An answer:

I left my previous job because of a personality conflict.

I received several promotions, and as my authority increased, there were more conflicts with my former employer. Our styles were just not the same. I had no idea the problem was so serious because I was so involved in my work.

A question: Why are you looking for this sort of position and why here?

An answer:

I’ve spent a lot of time considering various careers, and I think that this is the best area for me. This career requires many of my strongest skills. For example, my abilities in analyzing and solving problems are two of the skills I enjoy using most. In a previous position, I noticed a problem before somebody else and developed a solution. So I will do my best to become a valuable asset for your company.

Task 5. Use the prompts to make questions for an HR-manager

  1. your company / offer / training to staff?
  2. how / you / judge my success?
  3. what / a typical day / look / a person in this position?
  4. how / the feedback / give?
  5. what / change/ when / I / be / successful in this role?
  6. who / I / work with the most closely?
Keys:
  1. Does the company offer training to staff?
  2. How will you judge my success?
  3. What does a typical day look like for a person in this position?
  4. How is the feedback given?
  5. What will change when I’m successful in this role?
  6. Who will I work with the most closely?

Task 6. Roleplay a job interview

Student A: You are an HR manager. Use the questions in tasks 2 and 4.
Student B: You are a candidate. Answer HR’s questions and ask the questions from task 5.

Have a great lesson!

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