Decentralised Teaching and Learning

“Not all who wander are lost”. J R R Tolkien

Week 6 – CV’s and Job interviews


1) I’m a hard worker, etc.

2) Languages: I speak English and Spinach.

3) Analytical & Problem Solving skills: As a child, I always enjoyed building jigsaw puzzles and was always determined to find the missing piece.*

Doing research for this lesson, I was reminded by the amount of sheer dreck out there on the internet, especially anything relating to business.  ‘How to write a cv’ gets a whopping 136,000,000 hits, and it’s probably an important topic for at least some of your learners.

So, in this post I talk about CV’s and job interview questions. For busy teachers the whole lesson plan with links is available here. If you use it, and like it, drop me a comment – feedback is always welcome!


running lateThe lesson started 30 minutes late because of a last minute room change and the subsequent confusion – oh the joys of teaching Business English in company!

The Lesson

1) First we played a game to revise come of last week’s vocabulary from the Refugees lesson, e.g. detain, accomodation, lenient. Each team had a word or phrase on a slip of paper and had to explain it to the other team in 60 seconds.

2) I’d asked them previously to brush up their CV’s and bring them to class. In the end we had 3 CV’s (not everyone brought them) which we put on the whiteboard.

3) We then read an article called “Recruiter’s pet peeves” from Cornelsen’s Career Express Series B2. You can find this in the free sample material available here. It’s B2 Unit 1 pdf, page 4.

4) I asked the learners if any of their CV’s contained any of the recruiter’s pet peeves (there were some typos in one CV).

Mini web quest

5) I told the class to look at 3 websites and prepare a brief report. The task was to go to the following websites and discuss the questions:

i)  – Do you agree with any of Andrew Hyde”s advice?


What do you think of these CV’s/ resumes? Is it important to be creative?

iii) – Which of these CV’s do you like. Write down the things which make these CVs stand out? Could you incorporate any of these into your own cv?

Learners had to work together as a group and compile a brief report on what you found – you have 30 minutes!

Presenting reports & Discussion

6) i) The biggest talking point with our group is was ‘to blog or not‘. On his “Resumes for Startups” post Andrew Hyde says:

“13. Really, have a personal blog.  Today.  Now. Get. On. It.”

The group was split on the value of having a personal blog and whether the time was really worth the investment (I’m sure all ELT bloggers ask the same question!)

I mentioned that for me blogging is a good way to get thoughts down in a semi-permanent, organised way and that blogging is good for being part of a ‘professional conversation’ with other bloggers. One of the learners also showed us a showcase blog of the projects he had worked on when he was a freelancer, which was very informative. He said that it was actually an easier way of showing and keeping track of his past activities, rather than listing everything on a cv.

ii) Charlotte Olsen’s Golden Ticket cv (below) was a surefire winner here with the whole group, although the general consensus was that a lot of the cv’s were ‘gimmicky’ and some were even unclear and hard to read.

charlotte olsenI get the feeling that in Germany there isn’t so much variation and creativity in CV’s, except perhaps in creative industries like fashion, photography or graphic design. Compared to the rest of Europe, Germany has a low unemployment rate, which might also contribute to this. Perhaps young people in the UK or US have stand out more in a tough job market?

iii) Some of the learners liked some of the cv’s, but again, a CV in Germany is traditionally plain, just listing relevant skills and experience. One learner said that employers would be suspicious of someone who had a ‘creative’ or ‘unusual’ CV – it just wouldn’t be received well by the prospective employer.

Job interview questions

7) Useful phrases for job interviews (available here as download -the first two pages are for the interviewers, the third page for the interviewee/ applicant). The learners got a huge pile of phrases (including category headings) on slips of paper and had to sort them into the the given categories – I gave one set to each pair of learners: one pair interviewer, one pair interviewee/ applicant. This will take around 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the group.

job interview questions

8) After putting all the phrases into the correct categories, I answered any questions about comprehension, pronunciation or usage the learners had. Then we should have then had a job interview simulation but….because of the room change we ran out of time….

Job interview next week!

Again, if you use the material here – or have any comments about the blog, or if you’d like to write a guest post – send me a comment!

Hope that this post was useful,


* Points 1 and 2 taken from here, point 3 from here.

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