Job interview vocabulary esl

Help your student prepare for a job interview or give them the vocabulary they need to speak about work with this vocabulary list. Below you’ll find two speaking activities to practice the target language.

PDF download of all the vocabulary

Here is a pdf of all the vocabulary to give to your student once you have taught them almost everything on the list.

Hiring, firing and resigning


To be self-employed – to work for yourself.

‘My mother has been self-employed for six years now and she loves it.’

To fire someone / to get fired – to tell someone to leave the job because they have done something wrong (this is a very strong verb in English).

To hire someone / to be hired – to ‘contract’ someone for a job.

To make someone redundant / to be made redundant (UK), or, to lay off someone / to be laid off (US) – to tell someone to leave the job because the company is closing or getting smaller. (This situation is much more common than ‘to be fired’).

‘My uncle was made redundant after the factory closed and he is looking for work now.’

‘I’m sorry my cousin was fired from his pizza delivery job for not coming to work on time.’

To resign – when you decide to leave your job (a more informal way to say this is ‘to quit’).

‘She resigned from her job because she wanted to go travelling.’

To hand in your resignation – another way to say ‘to resign’ using the noun ‘resignation.’


To be entitled to – to have the ‘right’ to receive something.

‘In the UK, after you have worked for a company for two years you are entitled to redundancy pay. The amount you receive is based on how many years you have worked for the company.’

Redundancy pay (UK), Severance pay (US) – the money a person receives if they are made redundant or laid off.

To give notice – the period of time you continue to work for a company when you ‘hand in your resignation.’

‘He had to give four weeks’ notice when he handed in his resignation.’

To step down – someone in a position of power resigns from the role.

‘The CEO of the company decided to step down due to health problems.’


To work full time – to work 35-40 hours a week.

To work part time – to work less than 35 hours a week.

To work shifts – to work ‘turns’ of work and not the normal 9am-6pm routine.

‘My aunt works shifts because she is a nurse. Sometimes she works a night shift but normally she works the day shift.’

Holiday and sick days

Bank holiday (UK)– festival days that most employees take off.

‘In the UK most bank holidays fall on a Monday and so you get a long weekend.’

To be entitled to holiday pay (UK) / vacation pay (US) and sick pay – the time off your company agrees to give you in your contract.

To take time off – to take some days holiday.

To take time off sick – when you need to stay at home because you are sick.

‘This year I have taken three weeks off for holiday and three days off sick.’

Job interviews: roles

To be a candidate – to be a possible person for a job.

To be an intern – a student or young person who works at a company for training and experience purposes.

Internship – noun for ‘intern.’

‘Nowadays it’s common for young people to do an internship before they find a paying job.’

A role – what you do in your job.

‘My role is to oversee training.’

To oversee – to supervise or manage.

Arguing that you are the right person for the job


Background – your work and education experience.

‘My background is in human resources and training.’

To be a good fit – to have the right skills/personality for a job.

‘She is a good fit for this position because she has lots of experience in this sector.’

To suit /soot/ – to be appropriate for something.

‘Working with numbers really suits him because he has a logical brain.’

To be suitable /soot-ibl/ – adjective of ‘to suit.’

‘I believe that I am suitable for this position because I have a strong background in accounting.’

Qualifications – your educational achievements including any degrees and certificates you have (not ‘titles’).


To commute/ a commute – the journey from your house to your work.

‘It’s common for people who live in London to have a commute of at least an hour.’

To cope with something (such as work or pressure) – to be able to manage your emotions and stress levels when doing something difficult.

‘How do you cope with pressure?’ ‘I make to-do list based on priority and start work.’

To be willing to do something – to be happy and ready to do something.

‘Are you willing to relocate for this job.’

Adjectives to express how you feel about a job

To be challenging

To be rewarding / gratifying

To be time-consuming

Moving up in a company

To land a job or promotion – to get a promotion or new job almost by surprise.

To get promoted – to move up into a better position in a company.

To be overlooked for promotion – not to get promoted because the management preferred another candidate.

Speaking practice

The tutor is looking for a job and the student is a careers advisor who must help them find their perfect career.

The careers advisor should find out about the candidates:

  • Interests.
  • Relevant experience.
  • Whether they are willing to commute/travel.
  • Where they want to be in five years’ time.
  • How much pressure they can cope with.
  • Training they have done or are willing to do.
Interview practice

Help your student prepare for an interview by asking a few of these questions from