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ESL Interview Activities. A Speaking Activity for Upper-Intermediate Students of English as a Second Language

A woman interviewing for a job

A woman interviewing for a job

Class Objectives

This ESL activity is designed for upper-intermediate to advanced students to help them practice interviewing in English. The objective is to have the students practice English in an interview situation. To meet this objective it would be ideal to have the students talk about themselves. This is sometimes difficult because many of the students may be in University and may not yet have completed a degree or held a job of any kind. In addition some may need a little more prompting then simply asking them to talk about themselves. So when discussing their personal employment history, education and experience they may not have much to say. This activity is not meant to create the ideal situation but rather to avoid the problem of students not talking. It encourages the use of speech patterns and sentence structures that deal with length of time and sequences. It also encourages the use of interrogative questions.

The best way to use this would be to begin the class discussing the sentence structures that you want the students to practice. For example; “I graduated from _________ in _________.” or “I worked at _________ for _________.”

Setting Up the Class

Before the class print and cut the role cards. You should plan for about ten to fifteen minutes for the students to read over their roles and then ask questions about some of the vocabulary they may not be familiar with.

When I used this I arranged five small tables in the middle of room and at each table had one student with a “Job Opportunities” role sitting there to interview other students. Five other students were given the “Applicants” roles. These students were instructed to go to each table to interview for the different positions. The interviews were instructed to talk to five people before making a decision about who to hire. (The first time I used this we only had thirty minutes for this activity which is only enough time for two interviews I found this acceptable because the students were mostly talking in English).

The roles are designed so that there is one ideal applicant for four of the positions. The fifth position and the fifth applicant are meant to be wild cards. I did this because I thought it would be more fun to not really know how things would come out. The total time that this activity should run is about 40 minutes. However it can be modified to make it shorter.

Role Cards

Job Opportunities.

Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

You are the general manager of a fast food restaurant chain. Your store only has three full time employees including yourself. The rest of your employees are part time workers. You need to hire a new part time employee. You need someone who can work afternoons, evenings, nights and weekends. Your company policy is that every employee can have one weekend off per month. You can offer your new employee about twenty hours per week. Company policy does not allow you to give part time workers more than thirty hours in a week in order to avoid having to pay overtime. The amount of hours each employee gets depends on how well they work and how many people you need working during the week. You can offer each employee $5:00 an hour. They may ask for more but you can not agree to more than $7:00 an hour.

Standard Trucking Logistics

You run an office for a logistics company located in Wuhan. Your company helps many different businesses ship freight across the country by pairing these companies with truck drivers and other methods of transport. If a business has merchandise in Beijing that needs to be shipped to another part of China, your company finds the truck drivers in Hebei province that are able to fulfill your clients needs. The businesses you work with appreciate your service because you help to simplify the shipping process for them. Truck drivers appreciate your service as well because you are often able to schedule their next pick up in advance of them making a delivery based on where you know they will be. If you have a truck driver heading to Hunan with one shippment and another company in Hunan needs something shipped you can arrange for that driver to pick up the second shipment after he makes his delivery. You need to hire someone for an entry level position in your logistics company. Your company has a policy that you can only hire people who have a Bachelor's degree but it doesn't matter what subject area the individual was majored in. You pay a base salary of $2,000 a month with incentive bonuses if they are able to meet certain quotas. The employee will work in the Wuhan office Monday through Friday most weeks but must be able to work one Saturday a month.

Lost Wages Entertainment

You are the director of the marketing department for an international casino company. Your company has casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and a newly opened casino in Macao. Your office is based in the Macao location. You need to hire someone who has an understanding of marketing concepts and experience in a related field. Applicants who have a degree in marketing would be perfect for this job however you would also consider someone with a degree in Psychology, Finance or Business Administration if they have relevant work experience. The starting salary for this position will be $3,000 a month. There are also bonuses paid every quarter if certain quotas are met. Once hired there is a six month paid training program that the employee will be required to complete. There may be occasional business related trips to other countries but most of the work will be out of the Macao offices Monday through Friday.

Vagabond Diaries

You are the managing editor for a publishing company that produces among other things series of travel books. The books you publish are bought by people who are interested in traveling or who are planning a vacation to a specific destination. Your best travel writer has disappeared somewhere in South America. He was supposed to be writing about Peru and the ancient ruins of the Inca people. He stopped responding to your emails two months ago. The people at the hotel he was staying in say that he never checked out and that he left all his belongs in his hotel room and that they haven't seen or heard from him for the last two months. The travel book he was working on is only half finished. You need to hire a new travel writer to finish the book and to start work on the next project. You need someone who is experienced in writing and who has a sense of adventure. You'll pay them an advance of $10,000 to cover their travel expenses to South America and another $15,000 when the book is finished. If they do good work you will offer them another writing project when they return.

Advanced English Recruiting.

You are recruiting for an English language school. You have several positions available. The basic requirement for each position is that the applicants must be able to speak English. You have one position that requires no degree or special training and pays $600 a month. You have another position that requires a Bachelor's degree in any field of study and pays $2000 a month. The third position you have available is for someone who has advanced education and experience in the business world who will be teaching “Business English.” This position will pay $3000 a month.


Ralph Young

You are 19 years old. You have never had a job before. You will probably go to college but you haven't decided yet which college you will go to or what you will major in. You are only looking for a job because you mother is making you. You aren't really interested in working hard at the moment and you want to have enough time to spend with your friends this summer before you all have to start taking classes in this coming fall semester. You are willing to travel but your mother would prefer that you stayed close to home.

Sam Smith

You are 25 years old. You've recently graduated from college with a degree in History. During college you worked part time in a small coffee shop just to have a little spending money but you've never had a full time job before. You are not originally from Wuhan but you have lived here for the past six years. You are also planning to get married next year after your fiancée graduates from university. Your fiancée is also from Wuhan and she wants to stay in this area in order to be close with her family.

Ray Ferris

You are 30 years old. After receiving your Bachelor's Degree in Economics you worked in your uncle's advertising agency for ten years. You have recently completed a Master's Degree program in Marketing. You live in Wuhan but you don't mind relocating. You are married and have two kids. You're ideal salary is between $2,500 to $3,000 a month. You also require a consistent income. You will not accept an hourly wage or a job that pays per project completion. You are willing to travel but not regularly.

Lance Freeman

You 26 years old. You have a degree in English Literature. You wrote for the school paper in both high school and in university. You are currently employed as a salesperson for an office supply company. You make good money but you sit behind a desk most of the day and you are bored. You are not married. You do have a girlfriend but she constantly complains about things that don't interest you. You would like to do something that is more interesting and challenging. You enjoy reading mystery novels and you often wish that you could travel more.

John Wild

You are 33 years old. You have a degree in Psychology. You wrote for the school paper when you were in University. You've previously worked in sales and marketing for a small brewery that produced twelve varieties of beer. The company you worked for was bought by a larger brewery. When this happened you were laid off along with most of your coworkers. You are not married and have no children. You are looking for a new job but you are not too picky about your salary or the kind of work that you will be doing.

Other ESL Activities

© Copyright 2012. Wesley Meacham- This article is copyright protected and is the property of Wesley Meacham. All images in this article, unless otherwise stated, are the property of Wesley Meacham. Please do not copy this article in whole or in part without giving credit to the original author.


pichiquin on November 08, 2012:

I like it...solid activity.

Wesley Meacham (author) from Wuhan, China on April 24, 2012:

Thank you. Having taught fifth grade previously I have to say, better you than me. I did enjoy working with children however I don't miss grading workbooks or making and grading tests.

I do currently have a junior high class that I teach about once a week. But the situation is a little different there. In those classes the students have daily English classes with a Chinese teacher and they just want a foreign teacher for practice once or twice a week. In those classes I tend to use powerpoints that are loosely based on what I'm told they've been studying. The powerpoints are usually games, sometimes quizzes that are meant to hold the attention of fifty children who maybe see me once or twice a week.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on April 24, 2012:

This is a very good interesting and useful article. I would use this same interview method if my students were at a high intermediate to advanced level. Unfortunately, my fifth graders are maybe up to low intermediate at the best.

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