15 fun job application practice tasks

Applying for a job in English is a stressful and important use of language skills that often comes up in class but is rarely true for more than one or two people. Below are 15 games and other activities that are fun enough that you can practise the same skills over and over until they […]

Applying for a job in English is a stressful and important use of language skills that often comes up in class but is rarely true for more than one or two people. Below are 15 games and other activities that are fun enough that you can practise the same skills over and over until they really feel ready whilst also giving the students who aren’t going to apply for a job in the near future lots of interesting and useful speaking and other skills practice. These tasks are also good practice for people who will interview others in English, especially people who work in HR departments.

1. Find the problem roleplay
Students are given a roleplay card with one thing that would make them unsuitable for most but not all jobs, e.g. “you have never used a computer”, “you can’t read and write”, or “you never get up before midday”. Their partner must choose a job and ask them questions to see if they can find out what is wrong with their partner and therefore whether they should give them the job or not. If students are asked about something on their roleplay card they can’t give a different answer but they can try and avoid the question. After a fixed time limit ask them if they have found anything wrong and then reveal the problems. You can then move onto discussion of how to make negative things sound okay and what kind of questions are difficult and unacceptable in interviews.

2. CV (resume) gaps pairwork
Give a copy of a CV (curriculum vitae or resume) with different information taken out of the Student A and Student B versions. Students ask each other questions to find out the missing information. You can then move onto brainstorming typical interview questions or looking at how to write a CV. If you are looking at CV writing, you could try doing the pairwork with Student A and Student B having the same CV written in different ways, i.e. with one as a functional CV and the other as a chronological one.

3. CV (resume) spot the difference pairwork
In this more challenging variation of CV Gaps Pairwork, the information is changed in the Student A and Student B versions rather than taken out, and students have to ask and answer questions to find out how many differences there are. Both of these games can also be played with cover letters or the scripts from job interviews instead.

4. Guess my jobs by questions
In each pair of students the interviewer is given the name of a job they should interview the other person for. Without telling their partner what job they are being interviewed for, they should ask suitable questions for that job. Their partner can answer the questions with true answers or their imagination as they wish. The person being interviewed should try to guess what job they are being interviewed for. This can be made more challenging by students starting with very general questions (e.g. “Why do you want to leave your present job?”) and then getting more specific to give more clues (e.g. “Do you like working with children?”).

5. Guess your job by questions
This is an easier variation on Guess My Jobs By Questions where the interviewer has to guess the present job on the roleplay card that the interviewee has by asking only the questions given by the teacher. This can lead onto discussion of precise and vague answers.

6. Interview answers pyramid ranking debate
Brainstorm or give students a list of 6 to 10 possible answers to a single interview question, e.g. “Because I hate my boss” and “Because I need a new challenge” for “Why do you want to leave your present job?”. In pairs, fours, eights etc. students try to agree on ranking the answers from the best to the worst. This can lead onto discussion of cultural differences or giving indirect and vague answers.

7. Interview questions pyramid ranking debate
In this variation on Interview Answers Pyramid Ranking Debate, students decide on a ranking of questions by difficulty, unacceptability, how generally they can be used, or how likely they are to come up in an interview. They can then ask each other the questions that they have decided are most relevant, and this can lead onto dealing with polite and indirect questions.

8. Interview body language mimes
Students try to mime personality types like “shy”, “confident”, “stubborn” etc. This can lead onto discussion of good body language when being interviewed, judging people you are interviewing by body language, and suitability of certain personality types for particular jobs. You can do the same with subsets of body language like walking into the room, seating position, handshake etc.

9. Guess the job by CV (resume)
Students try to match the CV to the next job that person got. This works particularly well with real life and surprising examples, like your own CV at the time before you first started teaching English. This can be combined with more speaking by letting students ask 15 Yes/ No questions about each person’s job before they guess the job for each CV.

10. Guess the famous person by CV (resume)
In this more amusing variation of Guess The Job By CV, students try to identify CVs the teacher has written for famous people. It is okay if most of the information is made up, as this can actually prompt more discussion if anyone knows that person’s life story better than you.

11. Interview questions and answers pellmanism/ pairs/ memory game
Matching pairs of interview questions and answers on separate cards are spread around the table face down and students take turns try to match them up. This can move onto discussion of what answers are good and how the others could be answered better, then interviews with those questions in pairs.

12. Interview questions or answers pellmanism/ pairs/ memory game
In this variation of the game above, students try to match two questions that have the same meaning or two answers to the same question. This can lead onto discussion of polite and indirect questions, or to discussion of what the questions might be for the pairs of answers and which answer is better.

13. CV (resume) and cover letter pellmanism/ pairs/ memory game
Students match up CVs and cover letters or extracts from, and then discuss which ones are best and why.

14. Job applications problems roleplays
Students roleplay speaking, telephoning or writing to solve problems such as suddenly realizing you have made a big mistake in the CV you have just sent or being asked what you know about a company that you haven’t researched.

15. Job applications challenge board game
In this more fun variation on Job Applications Problems Roleplays, students roll a dice and try to solve the problem written on the square they land until they reach the final square “You have got the job”.

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net April 2008
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic.


  • mimi says:

    this is useful

  • Ulfa says:

    thank you for sharing

  • Mimi says:

    These are a great idea for my business students – looking forward to using some soon!

  • Ali Beheshti says:

    I really enjoyed it and found it useful for my career

  • Armando Dueñas says:

    I really enjoyed this reading because it teaches you how to make a great job interview and also I’d like to see more information about this topic because this is really useful and this reading could help a lot of people.

  • yacine says:

    I find the task very useful,specially for my new business class.I wish I could download more to use as supplementary activities.

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