Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks, Online Business English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Grade 1 English Conversation Lessons at Xiangtan Normal University...





Lesson Objectives
To introduce the students to the situation of Job Interviews. To use conversation and role plays to help the students gain knowledge of the world of work.


Lesson Activities
The students will discuss, then use role plays to learn about job interview techniques.


General Job Interview Advice
Before your interview find out everything you can about the company (for example read their annual report), read through your application form again, thinking about the questions they might ask you. You should also prepare some questions to ask them.

To do well at the interview you will need to convince the interviewer you are qualified to do the job. You will also need to show that you are sufficiently motivated to get the job done well and that you will fit in with the company and the team in which you will work.

You should dress smartly for the interview and should leave home earlier than you need to on the day of the interview - you may be delayed by traffic or for other reasons. Be polite to all employees of the company. At the interview itself you must be positive about yourself and your abilities - but do not waffle.

Questions you may want to ask an interviewer
The interview is a two-way process. The company interviewing you will want to find out whether you are suitable for the position and you will want to find out if the company and position are right for you. You should therefore ensure that you have enough information to make up your mind whether you want the job. For example: 

  • What will be my responsibilities? 
  • Where will I fit into the overall organisational structure? 
  • Who will I report to? 
  • Where does he/she fit in the structure? 
  • Who will report to me? How experienced are they? 
  • What do you expect me to do in the first 6 months? 
  • What level of performance do you expect from me? 
  • Who are your customers? 
  • Where is the company going? Upwards? Expansion plans? 
  • What are the chances of advancement/promotion in this position? When? 
  • What will be my salary, benefits and bonuses? 
  • Will travelling be required in this position? 
  • Will relocation be required now or in the future? 
  • What training do you provide? 
  • When will you decide on the appointment? 
  • What is the next step? 
Group interview tests
Group tests are used by an employer to see how you react in a group. They will want to see if you help or hinder the group reach its objectives. An observer will be watching to see how you take criticism, whether you take on leadership roles and involve less communicative group members. If you chair the meeting the observer will be checking on how you plan and keep control of the meeting. If you are leading a group activity the observer will be interested in seeing how good you are at delegating tasks and how much of the work you keep for yourself.

Panel interviews
Most people hate these sort of interviews. To do well you will need to identify the important figures on the panel and which role each person has. The chairperson is easy to identify as they will generally make the introductions. You will also need to identify the person whom you will be working for directly - make sure you give them plenty of eye contact.

When you are talking to the panel, remember that you are talking to all of them and not just the person who posed a particular question - your answer has to be the correct one for each panel member! If there is one particular panel member who everyone else seems to agree with, you should make sure you impress him or her.

Job interview body language
When you are being interviewed it is very important that you give out the right signals. You should always look interested - so do not slouch in your chair. Never lie to anyone in an interview, your body language and tone of voice or the words you use will probably give you away - classic body language giveaways include scratching your nose and not looking directly at the other person when you are speaking to them.

Factors that can stop you getting the job
Being unprepared for the interview. 
Poor/limp handshake. 
Saying unfavourable things about previous employers. 
Not being able to communicate clearly and effectively. 
Being aggressive or acting in a superior way. 
Making excuses for failings.

Interview questions you may be asked
Before attending an interview you should think about your responses to the following questions. Your answers may depend on the job or company in question, so you should go through your responses just before each interview.

  • Why do you want this job?

  • Think carefully about this question. Talk about the positive aspects which have attracted you to applying for this position. Do not mention the negative aspects of your current job or the job in question.
  • What qualities do you think will be required for this job?

  • Their advertisement for the job may help you a little bit, but you should also think of the other qualities that may be required. These may include leadership ability, supervisory skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving, analytical skills, etc.
  • What can you contribute?

  • This is your chance to shine. Tell them about your achievements in your previous position(s) which are relevant to the new position you are applying for.
  • Why do you want to work for this company?

  • Emphasise the positive reasons why you want to join their company, but avoid aspects such as more money or shorter hours. 
  • What do you know about this company?

  • This is your chance to impress the interviewer with your knowledge of their company. Give them a run down of their products or services, sales figures, news, company figures, customers, etc.
  • What interests you about our products (or service)?

  • Again, your research into the company should aid you in answering this question.
  • What can we (the new company) offer that your previous company cannot offer?

  • Do not mention money. Talk about opportunities for personal growth, new challenges, etc.
  • You have not done this sort of job before. How will you cope/succeed?

  • Say that you are the sort of person who aims to succeed at everything you do and that you are very determined and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
  • Why should we employ you?

  • The answer to this question will be based on your previous experience and achievements which relate to the company. At the end you could add that you think there is a good fit between you and the job, and do ask the interviewer for their opinion.
  • How ambitious are you?

  • Depending on the position you are applying for you may want to sound fairly ambitious, but do not look as if you are after the interviewer's position.
  • What do you like and dislike about the job we are discussing?

  • Likes: stress things such as a new challenge or the opportunity to bring fresh experience to the company. Dislikes: Imply there is nothing to dislike about the job, which is why you are so interested.
  • Do you prefer to work in a small, medium or large company?

  • Remember where you are! If the company interviewing you is a small to medium sized company say that you enjoy a close atmosphere with a good team spirit. At a large company say that you enjoy the stability of working for a large and established company.
  • Are you considering any other positions at the moment?

  • If you are considering other jobs, say yes, but do not give too many details away - it will weaken your negotiating position later. If you do not have any other job offers at the moment just say that you are looking.
  • How would you describe yourself? (OR... How would others describe you?)

  • Pick your best attributes and achievements from your career, education etc.
  • What was your greatest success? How did you achieve it?

  • You should pick an achievement which is related to their needs.
  • How do you handle criticism?

  • Your answer should be along the following lines: "I always think that it is important to get feedback on how I am performing so that I can improve any areas which my manager/supervisor highlights. Do you have regular staff appraisals and a staff development plan?"
  • Do you work well with others? Or are you a loner?

  • Some jobs mean that you have to work very closely with other people whilst other jobs mean that you are largely working on your own, so you need to say that you are happy in both situations.
  • What motivates you?

  • Our suggestions are career growth, opportunity to learn new skills, good co-workers, etc.
  • Do you know how to motivate other people?

  • Hopefully you can say "Yes", and say that you have to find out what motivates a person and give them recognition for a job well done. You should always give them encouragement and help them when required.
  • Are you competitive?

  • Your answer depend on the sort of job you are doing. If you will be working as part of a team you will need to show that you can work in the best interests of the team and not just for your own benefit.
  • Can you work under pressure?

  • You need to say that you can. You could ask how much pressure the job involves.
  • How many hours are you prepared to work?

  • You would be prepared to work the necessary hours to get the job done on time.
  • Do you mind working for someone older than yourself? Younger than you? Of the opposite sex?

  • Here you can say that you are prepared to work with anyone.
  • What are your career goals?

  • Link in your goals with the company who is interviewing you.
  • What interests do you have outside work?

  • Your hobbies and interests can tell an employer a lot about you, including whether you are sociable, and whether you can take on 'leadership' roles. So you should think about which interests will paint the right picture of you given the position you are discussing.
  • Are you too young for this job?

  • "No, I do not think so!" is the answer you should give and then state the reason why you are not too young. If you have a lot of experience gained in a short time, say so.


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