Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan (Upper-Intermediate)

Download the Job Interview ESL lesson plan here: Job-Interview-ESL-UppIntermediate05022012.doc

Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan: Upper-Intermediate

Study our lesson about job interviews.

Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan: Warm-up Questions(Pair Work)

1)    What was your first job? What is the worst job you have ever had?
2)    Do humans need to work? If you were rich and didn’t work at all, could you be happy?
3)    What questions are inappropriate for an interviewer to ask in an interview?
4)    Brainstorm: Take two minutes to make a list of things you should and shouldn’t do before, in, and after an interview. When finished, share your list with the class.

Job Interviewing — Key Vocabulary in Context

Due to the economic downturn, competition for jobs is stiff in many parts of the world. People are being laid off or made redundant left right and center. When the opportunity for an interview arises, it’s important to perform well. Interviews, however, are still a source of anxiety for many people.
According to workplace experts Joyce Lain Kennedy and Rebecca Corfield, many job seekers make the mistake of blabbing negative information about themselves without realizing it. Hasty answers to questions such as “Why are you out of work?” can highlight your own shortcomings. Kennedy also suggests minimizing negative talk about former co-workers and bosses. Rather, she contends it’s better to say that you get along with everyone. Demonstrating interest in the position is also crucial. Job seekers can do this by showing they’ve done adequate research before the interview and by being inquisitive in the interview. In addition, experts recommend avoiding premature talk of remuneration and perks (unless the interviewer brings it up). It’s best to focus on what you can offer the employer, and not vice versa.
While most companies claim to be equal opportunity employers, inappropriate questions are not uncommon in interviews. In the US, it is illegal to ask about nationality, religion, age, marital status, military background, health, union membership, and even place of residence. Of course, verbally punching an interviewer for asking a discriminatory question will likely negate your prospect of getting hired. The key is to find a tactful way to redirect the question to safer ground.
People go to great lengths to get hired. Many admit to embellishing their qualifications and CV. This behavior may be supported by the idea that getting a job is harder than actually carrying it out. (285 words)

Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan: Follow-Up Questions

1)    According to the author, why is doing well in interviews now more important than ever?
2)    Idiom: what does it mean if something is happening left right and center?
3)    What do the experts say you shouldn’t do in an interview?
4)    Why do they say you should do?
5)    What does the phrase equal opportunity employer mean (in your opinion)?
6)    True or False: In the US, it’s illegal to ask, “Do you have a history of health problems?”
7)    What should you do if you are asked a discriminatory question?
8)    Idiom: what does it mean to go to great lengths to do something?
1 – It is more important than ever because of the economic downturn; there are fewer jobs available.
2 – It means that it is happening everywhere.
3 – You should not: criticize yourself, criticize your ex-boss or co-workers, come unprepared, or talk about money prematurely.
4 – You should come prepared, ask questions in the interview, say you get along well with people, and focus on what you can offer.
5 – It should mean that the employer does not discriminate — it hires people of all backgrounds and ages.
6 – Yes. (Particularly, I imagine, when the question is not related to the qualifications of the particular position.)
7 – Try to redirect the question to another topic.
8 – The idiom means to make great effort in order to achieve something.

Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan: Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
lay off sb (phrasal verb)
blab (verb)
negate (verb)
embellish (verb)
  • stiff – severe; difficult; tense
  • lay off sb – terminate the employment of sb
  • redundant – unneeded because there is no more work
  • anxiety – worry or fear about sth
  • blab – tell sb information that should be kept secret
  • hasty – done quickly without enough thought
  • shortcoming – a default or fault in character
  • inquisitive – interesting in learning, usually shown by asking questions.
  • remuneration – pay; earnings
  • perk – an added benefit you get from an employer
  • negate – eliminate, nullify
  • embellish – make sth more interesting by adding false details

Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan: Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
competition / stiff
lay off / left right and center
anxiety / redundant
blab / shortcomings
inquisitive / lady
remuneration / confidential
perk / Lexus
negate / chance / promotion
embellish / achievements
great lengths / tactful


Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan: Difficult Interview Questions

1) What are some difficult interview questions?


2) What is the best way to answer the below questions?
– How long would you stay in the position?
– What is your weakness?
– Describe a time when you failed.
– Why are you leaving your present job?

Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan: Job Interview Role-Play (Pair Work)

1) You and your partner will take turns interviewing. First, decide who will be the first job seeker. Next, choose one of the below jobs to apply for. When you’ve chosen, read your role below.
Project Manager, IBM
Duties: Manage projects on time and on budget. Responsible for risk management, project tracking & contingency planning.
Required: Bachelors degree, experience in project mgmt, and expertise in MS Office. Must have excellent leadership & interpersonal skills.
English Instructor, ABC Learning.
Duties: Conducting group & private classes in businesses
Requirements: university degree in related field, fluency in English, and teaching experience.
Must be: well-organized, energetic, professional, and legally qualified to work.
Head Chef, Antonio’s
Duties: delivery of food services
Requirements: Certificate III in Hospitality or similar, and exp. with food prep. and delivery.
Must be: able to work autonomously, well-organized, & knowledgeable about food safety

(note: each student reads his/her role only)

Student A
You will be interviewed. This is a role-play so you may pretend to have the appropriate background for the position. Take a minute to prepare. Soon, the interview still start.
Student B
Decide how you want to structure the interview and what questions to ask (optional: include an inappropriate question). Also, try to think of a scenario related to the job and ask the interviewee how he/she’d behave in that situation. Take a few minutes to prepare. When ready, begin the interview.

Job Interview Writing Homework (optional)

Write a cover letter for one of the above positions.

Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan: Discussion Questions

1)    Do you have any interesting job interview stories?
2)    Should interviewers be prohibited from asking about age, marital status, residency, etc?
3)    Post-Graduation: How difficult is it to find a job after graduation in your country?
4)    Idiom: What does it mean to think outside the box? Is this required for your job?
5)    Verbs: How are the verbs “to fire, to lay off, to resign, to retire, to quit” different?

Job Interview ESL Lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

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3 comments on “Job Interview ESL Lesson Plan (Upper-Intermediate)

  1. Dee (Posted on 9-26-2012 at 12:58) Reply

    Hi there. I find your site very helpful for ESL teachers and students. I’m just wondering if there are available vocabulary materials for beginner level? Thank you.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-19-2012 at 20:24) Reply

      Hi Dee. There are no lesson plans like the one above for beginners. The lesson plans on this site require the student to be able to discuss and debate topics that usually aren’t related to everyday life. A beginner student cannot do this. In my experience, beginner students benefit from the structure of a textbook until they gain some fluency.

  2. Jenny (Posted on 1-1-2016 at 15:44) Reply

    useful vocab and discussion questions.

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