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A broad consensus exists among adult educators, especially ESL instructors, that we should take every possible opportunity to focus on job interview skills in our English classes.
During these difficult economic times, however, I would suggest that ESL and even EFL instructors working with college and university students also should focus on practical employment skills. Videotaping practice interviews – and longer is better – remains an invaluable tool.
Yet ESL teachers can also help ESL/EFL students conduct research for possible jobs with information interviews. A common practice in the United States, informational interviews allow job seekers to meet working professionals in their field, collect detailed information on working lives, and expand their network of valuable contacts. Sometimes it also leads to job leads, internships, and even jobs.
More About Informational Interviews on the Web
Vanderbilt University, an elite private university in Tennessee, has compiled an impressive list of 60 informational interviews from a wide variety of disciplines and professions. (Peabody is a leading school of Education within Vanderbilt University). These provide illuminating examples of real-life informational interviews. Note: some speakers have a strong southern accent.
Here’s a solid collection of typical informational interview questions from About.com, a fairly reliable New York Times-owned website. Questions are divided into Occupational and Functional categories.
Here’s a basic video, perhaps targeted for adult education and community college students, that reviews the fundamentals of conducting an informational interview.
Naturally, many students hope to find job leads from their informational interviews. ESL students can always use more practice job interviews. This chapter of potential job interview questions and quotations comes from Compelling Conversations that I have used with community college, adult education, and university students.
From my perspective, holding both long mock job interviews and hearing trip reports of information interviews are practical, effective uses of precious classroom time.
Have you added informational interviews to your advanced ESL class yet? If not, why not?