Thursday, February 19, 2009

Topic: Speaking and Interviewing.

10-second review: A three-part article taken from my book, Teaching English, How To…., (Xlibris, 2004) consisting of my approach to teaching formal speech, engaging in small-group activities and responding to interview questions, especially job interviews.

Title: “How Can Teachers Help Students Overcome Their Fear of Speaking in Public?” Teaching English, How To…. Raymond Stopper. Xlibris, 2004. pp. 297-305.

Interviewing is the art of asking questions that elicit responses and, on the other hand, learning how to make those responses, as in an employment interview. Training in interviewing begins when guest speakers are invited to the classroom. Students should prepare questions for the speaker. Students from grades 5 to 12 can practice interviewing each other in preparation for a class booklet that introduces each student—an activity to use early in the school year and one that helps the class to become a “community.

Older students can also watch interview shows on TV like Larry King Live and analyze the types of questions. By the way, when asked about how to conduct interviews, King had this advice: Keep the questions short, be a good listener and keep yourself out of it, meaning do not become involved in long speeches about your point of view and then pretend that they are questions. (King, however, as your students will note, does not always follow his own advice.)

Any unit on employment interviews should begin with the Internet. Type into the Google Search Engine the words “Employment Interview” and you will find 14,000,000 Web sites dealing with employment interviews.

Some of the interview questions I found on these sites are as follows:

1. Do you remember what attracted you to the ad for this position?
2. Tell me a brief history of your background and experience.
3. What are the key responsibilities for ………. position?
4. How do you use your time?
5. When have you been the most satisfied with your job?
6. Give me an example of when you’ve done more than your job required.
7. Do you have any questions? (Among suggested answers: “What is the best thing about working here?” “Why is the position open?” “Is there a job description?”)
8. Tell me about the most difficult assignment you had in your last job.
9. Why did you leave your last position?
10. Tell me about when you had to adjust to change.
11. What do you think are the key qualities for ………. position?
12. Tell me about a time you had a confrontation with a co-worker.
14. What is your past experience in ………. position?
15. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
16. In what way can you contribute to our company?
17. Tell me about a time you tried and failed.
18. What are some things you find difficult?
19. What are your short-and long-term goals?
20. What can you add that would make us want to hire you?
21. What do you know about our company?
22. What motivates you?
23. You have an employee who starts coming in late. How will you handle this situation?
24. How confident are you that you can perform successfully the duties of this position and why?
25. Tell us about a situation that would show ………

Recently the Wall Street Journal suggested that a “trap” question is “What is your greatest weakness?” The column gives one helpful piece of advice—always tell how you overcome the weakness.

Three helpful Web sites are “,” “” and “”

Many of the Web sites give suggested answers to employment interview questions. They discuss the purpose of the question and the suggested purpose of the answer.

You could give students the project of identifying the top ten Web sites for helping people prepare for job interviews. You could assign a paper on how to prepare for a job interview with possible questions and answers.

These last eight blogs on the subject of preparing to speak with confidence were taken from a chapter I wrote in my book, Teaching English, How To….. RayS..

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