Lesson Plan: How to Teach Interview Skills to EFL/ESL Students in Thailand and Beyond

Photo copyright - Victor1558 - Creative Commons License
Photo copyright – Victor1558 – Creative Commons License

Lesson Plan: How to Teach Interview Skills to EFL/ESL Students in Thailand

As an eight-year veteran of teaching English (EFL) in Thailand, I’ve noticed how most EFL/ESL students don’t have good interview skills. Having good interview skills is important as they’re used in everything from interviews for school and university places to job interviews, interviewing at foreign embassies to get education visas to study abroad, interviewing new staff and even interviewing prospective employers.

That’s why, as an EFL teacher, I made sure my students learnt how to interview well and how to be an effective interviewer. This free and easy lesson plan helps.

Lesson Plan Appropriate For Most Levels – This is a good lesson plan as it’s adaptable. You can give low-level students (high-beginner, low-intermediate etc) simple interviews to create, and high-level students (high-intermediate, advanced etc.) more complicated interviews. Adapt it to each level depending on the objective of the interview and the vocabulary and grammar you ask students to use.

Objective – Students will learn how to be a successful interviewee as well as how to run an effective interview.

Materials – Handouts with effective interview skills and new interview vocabulary listed.


Step 1. Ask your students if they have ever had an interview or if they’ve ever interviewed anyone. Find out how many times, what type of interviews, if they were successful and, if they were the interviewer, did they get to their objective. Write all the information they tell you on the board.

Step 2. Explain to students they will be conducting interviews today and go around the class asking if anyone knows what having good interview skills mean. Make a list of anything they say on the board, to refer to later.

Step 3. Give students a copy of your handout on “Good Interview Skills”. I created my own and included tips like “Shake hands firmly”. “Sit up straight”. “Don’t fidget”. “Keep good eye contact”. “Speak slowly and clearly (extremely important for EFL students, particularly if they have strong accents)”. “Ask interviewer to repeat the question if you don’t understand either the question or the vocabulary the interviewer used” etc. When I create my interview handout, I make sure I include tips on problems I’ve already seen in the past with that particular group of students.

Step 4. Go over each point in the “Good Interview Skills” handout, making sure students understand what each point means.

I then cross reference this list with interview skills the students have already told me about, to give them enough confidence to feel as though they do already have some interview skills.

Step 5. Now split students up into pairs and assign them a topic. One group might be an interviewer at the American Embassy assessing whether a potential student (the second student) should be given an education visa to study in the US. Another pair can be given a topic whereby one person is an interviewer in the company they already work for (if you’re teaching corporate EFL) and the other is applying for a promotion. Interviews are required for various things throughout life, so the sky’s the limit for what you can assign.

Step 6. Now allow your EFL/ESL students 15-20 minutes to work in their pairs and prepare a short interview. Stress they should follow the “Good Interview Skills” handout, as well as come up with at least 6-10 questions the interviewer asks and the interviewee answers, as well as at least two questions from interviewee to interviewer.

Step 7. At the end of the assigned time, have students come up to the front and act out their interview role plays. If mine are low-level students I allow them to read from their notes. If they’re high-level, I don’t. Before the students begin to perform their role plays however, I tell all the other student pairs to make sure they listen to the interviews as, at the end of it, they will be required to grade each student pair and the best pair will get chocolate.

The way I allow them to grade is to give each pair 10 points total and they can assign those points to other pairs – so they may give one pair 2 points, one pair 4 points, another pair zero points.

In actuality though, what you’ll find is they’ll split the points up pretty evenly in most cases. I don’t always advocate students grading other students, but in role play classes I’ve discovered it’s just about the only thing that gets other pairs listening to the pair that are performing. Otherwise they spend the time practicing their own role plays.

Step 8. Once all pairs have finished with their role plays (this may have to be carried over to another class if your class is large), give a few pointers to each team, explaining which rules they followed from the “Good Interview Skills” handout and which they missed. Make sure you congratulate as much as criticize.

Expected Outcomes: EFL/ESL students will learn new interview vocabulary, as well as new interview skills. Students will be able to hold a short interview or participate in an interview as an interviewee, and be able to perform well enough to be acceptable in any interview they participate in.

*** I often use this interview lesson plan for EFL/ESL students two or three times over a semester. It’s useful to do so as you see quickly if your students’ interview skills are improving, as well as give them more practice for upcoming interviews they may have.