Decentralised Teaching and Learning

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

Week 7 – Job interview Simulation

copyright stevendepolo under Creative Commons license


First of all, I sat round with two of the learners while we waited for others to turn up and we just talked about work, how things were going. Then I turned to write the plan for the lesson on the whiteboard and the learners just kept talking in English. As I was listening I was pleasantly surprised by how fluent they were – they sounded very natural asking and answering questions. This is not just my doing but comes from working in an English-speaking environment – this has really boosted their learning.

The lesson here would seem to be – using a language is learning a language.

The Lesson

This was a continuation from last week’s lesson, where we ran out of time! It consists of a job interview simulation.


1) I put the learners into two groups – Group A Interviewers and Group B Interviewees. It’s also a good idea here to pair the learners together and then write these pairs on the board. You could also write on the WB ‘secret word’ to get them thinking…

2) Then I got both groups to quickly sort the Useful phrases we did last week into categories. Last week this took them about 10-12 minutes, so this time I expected them to do this in 5 minutes! These are the same phrases from last week which you can download here. The first two pages are for the Interviewers, the final page for the Interviewee.


3) The two groups had slightly different tasks:

Group A Interviewers – They created a new identity for themselves using this worksheet. Each interviewer decides on a new name, a job title and the main responsibilities of their job (“I deal with, I oversee” and so on). They also decide on ‘secret word’. The secret word must be an animal  or vegetable and they later have to try and sneak it into the conversation as naturally as possible!

Group B Interviewees – I gave the interviewers a simular form where they had to create a new identity for themselves here.

4) Both groups were then given a list of 10 typical interview questions, 5 from last week’s questions plus 5 new questions – available here. Group A – Interviewers chose three questions to ask the applicant. Group B – Interviewers chose three questions they would like to be asked by the interviewing panel.

Why did I design the task like this? This way both groups have some information with which to think about and prepare their questions or answers. All will become clear!

Simulation instructions

Tell the learners that :

Group A – Interviewers – you’re going to interview the applicants for a job of their choosing.

Group B – You’re going to be interviewed for a job of your choosing, but you have to try and work out the secret word of the Interviewer – each of the them will have a secret word (an animal or vegetable that they have to try and ‘sneak’ into the conversation).

5) Remember the pairs of learners you arranged at the start of the lesson? Let’s say George (Group A) is paired with Susan (Group B). Susan gives her new identity and her questions to George- in return George gives just her questions only to Susan. This is the information swap which makes the task interesting. Then Susan leaves the room. There is then a five minute preparation stage. The interviewers then read the CV of the applicant and prepare follow-up questions, while the interviewee prepares their answers to the questions given. Giving the learners preparation time is important as this will improve their performance.

3) The interviewing panel call in the interviewee and do the interview. At this stage I just sit back, watch and take notes. It’s also helpful (and fun) if the interviewing panel write their ‘invented’ names on pieces of paper or card and put them on the desk, so the applicant can see them. I let the interviews run for 8 to 10 minutes. Group A should ask the questions and perhaps a few follow-up questions.

4) At the end of the interview the applicant/ interviewee has to try and guess what was the secret word of all the candidates.

5) The interviewing panel then give feedback on the performance of the candidate, perhaps commenting on the overall impression, whether they came across as confident and some feedback on the particular answers given.

6) Afterwards I gave general feedback on things that came up during the job interviews (e.g. I gave them the useful phrases ‘Ok, moving on….’ and ‘That’s quite enough, thank you’) to hurry up an interview) and pointed out examples of good language use.


This is just a short post presenting an activity for job interviews which hopefully has some fun elements. I wanted to introduce a more innovative, and hopefully not too complicated way of doing job interviews in ESP/ Business English classes.

If you use this activity in class – let me know, this is a BETA activity. I’ve only used it once, and would love to get feedback!


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