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“Passion plus competency, not just competency alone, is key to securing employment.”
—Richard Bolles (1927-2017), American author of What Color is Your Parachute?
Finding work is not always an easy thing, particularly in an uncertain economy such as that of the United States. But how does one get a job?
Research, self-nomination, and persistence are common paths that lead to job interviews. Consequently, our students naturally find the prospect of interviewing for a competitive job intimidating. We can, however, reduce their justified anxiety by teaching flexible phrases and providing authentic practice. I also like to share a few simple techniques (Situation, Task, Action, Results – STAR) in answering questions.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that many students come from more traditional societies where patronage and nepotism are alive and well. Some ESL students find the concept of merit-based hiring both refreshing and very American. Most Americans, after all, have had to apply and interview to get their jobs. Many English Language Learners come from countries where people are employed through families, political parties or government agencies.
Practice Makes Progress
Fortunately, like most skills, practice makes progress. Rehearsing interviews is a common way to make sure you hit all the talking points for the real thing. As an instructor, you can pair or otherwise group students to make lists of skills they have and skills they would like to improve. For example, reading, writing and speaking their native language are skills they already have. Reading, writing and speaking English are skills they want to improve. That, of course, is why they are in your class. You can also incorporate sayings and quotes that introduce and explore the importance of skill-building in a competitive modern economy.
Here’s a self-evaluation worksheet I’ve developed for English students to complete after participating in mock interviews. Use or lose!
Mock Job Interview – Self-Evaluation
Name: Position: Organization:
Date: Length: Interviewers:
Please fill in this worksheet using with complete sentences. Feel free to expand the worksheet to meet your individual needs. You might, for instance, want to transcribe your strongest and weakest responses to interview questions.
1. What were you glad to see in your mock job interview?
2. What were some areas that should have been stronger?
3. What are some other observations?
4. What were some language (grammar/vocabulary) errors? Please identify and correct those errors.
5. Were there any pronunciation problems? What did you say? What did you want to say? Be specific.
6. What question led to your strongest answer? Why do you believe that was your best response?
7. What question did you struggle to answer? Why was that response less than perfect? What could/should have you said?
8. On a scale of 1-10, what would you give yourself on this mock job interview? Why?
9. What specific areas do you want to work on for your next job interview?
10. How will you do better on your next speaking assignment next time?
Do you practice interview skills in your English class? For more job-centric classroom activities, check out the Exploring Career Opportunities unit from Creating Compelling Converations – available on Teachers Pay Teachers!