Note to teachers on timing.


In groups of four you will role-play an interview for a job in a real manufacturing company. Each member of the group will get a chance to interview and to be interviewed, so there will be four interviews in all.


Throughout this assignment you’re going to use an approach known as cooperative learning. This is based on the principle that people learn best when they work in a group, with each person learning and, at the same time, helping others to do so.


This is a useful approach in any subject because it is a good way to learn. It is especially useful if the subject is manufacturing industry, because the ability to work as part of a team is a key skill for most jobs in manufacturing.


Cooperative learning is about finding the strengths of every group member - sometimes strengths they didn’t know they had - and using them together to help get the job done.


The first tasks for your group are to learn a little about manufacturing industry and to choose a company, using the information sheets and links provided.

Initial web browse

Time for this activity: 7 minutes (single period) or 12 minutes (double period).


As a group take a look at these webpages



Take a look too at some of the manufacturing companies that operate in Scotland.


Follow some of the links. Watch a short video or two. Get a feel for the different types of manufacturing, the variety of jobs they offer and the kinds of people who perform them.


You should see right away that the timekeeper in your group has a critical role in this whole assignment. There is far too much in these webpages to be able to study it all right now. You will have to browse, dip into a few things, get a feel for what it’s all about. As you’re doing so, each of you should have a think about which of the companies you would like to work for.


Later, if your teacher decides to run a more in-depth project - or if you just want to find out more about manufacturing - you can visit these webpages again. For the moment your timekeeper has to be quite firm or you won’t complete the assignment.

The company

Time for this activity: 0 or 6 minutes.


In the single period lesson your teacher will now provide each group with the name of the real company you will be working with in the interviews.


In the double period lesson your group should choose a company for the interview sessions, from among those for which information is provided. Just to remind you, here are the different sectors of manufacturing industry. And here are a few of the manufacturing companies that operate in Scotland.


Each member of your group should choose one of these companies and think of a reason for that choice. Then in turns around the table, group members should state which company appeals to them most, and explain briefly their reasons.


Two or more group members might initially choose the same company, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the group has to select that company. This is cooperative learning not majority rule.


So think about what your colleagues have said, discuss the choices as a group, and try to reach a consensus - a decision all of you are able to agree with. Your group should also select a second and third choice company.


To make for a more varied classroom experience only two information sheets are provided for each company. So groups need a method of deciding on a company when more than two have made the same first choice. Once the group decisions have been taken, each group should write its first choice on a piece of paper, then hold this up.


Your teacher will then write first choices for which there are enough printed sheets on the board for everyone to see.


If three or more groups have made the same first choice they need to discuss options. There are various possibilities, with the aim being as many groups as possible getting first or second choices in as short a time as possible.


If groups can agree immediately - if one group decision was close, for instance, with not much between first and second choice and the board showing the second is still available - they should do so. They should then hold up pieces of paper with their chosen company names on them and the teacher should quickly write these on the board.


In the end some groups might simply have to draw lots. Once every group has a company, each of them should collect the printed information sheet from the teacher and find the corresponding webpage on the computer.


Note to teachers on researching a company.

The interviews

Job interviews can take several forms. You’re going to use one of the most common. Facing you on the other side of the table will be a team leader and a department manager. Both can ask any kind of question they like. But the manager is more likely to ask general questions about yourself and your knowledge of the company.


The team leader will be interested in what you can bring to the job and to his team, in terms of your skills, attitudes and personality.


Each member of your group is going to play each of these roles in turn:

  • department manager (interviewer)
  • team leader (interviewer)
  • applicant for the job (interviewed)
  • encourager/timekeeper.


Initial research

Time for this activity: 7 or 12 minutes.


Your group will prepare together for the interviews. Only after you have explored your chosen company and learned what it's looking for in its recruits, will you be separated into interviewers and interviewed. This keeps you working as a group for longer.


Go to the information sheet and the webpage on your chosen company. Study them, follow the links, watch any company videos there, and start thinking about what you’re going to ask the applicant you are about to interview.


Imagine yourself working in that company and try to feel what it’s like. Make it seem as real as possible to yourself. What kind of people are in your team or department already? What kind of person would they want to join them?


Now take a look at the webpage on jobs in manufacturing, and start thinking about what kind of job you will apply for in your chosen company. Remember that you are looking 3-7 years into the future, when you are about to leave school, college, university or another job at which you've been working for a few years.


Each member of your group should now write down the job for which he/she will be applying on a large sheet of paper. At the same time they should tell the other members of the group what the job is and, briefly, what people who have that job actually do.


Interview questions

Time for this activity: 0 or 7 minutes.


In the single period lesson each interviewer will choose two questions from the list provided. So you should skip this part and go straight to the interview.


In the double period lesson, you’re going to use a simple cooperative learning structure called roundtable to produce a set of interview questions. Each person should think of a question, say it aloud, then write it down on the piece of paper that has the jobs your group members are applying for already written on it. Your teacher will tell you which group member should start.


These questions can be for the manager or the team leader - thinking especially about leaders of teams with each of the four jobs you’re applying for in them. You should then pass the sheet of paper and pencil to the next person. Your group should keep going in this way around the table until your timekeeper tells you to stop.


Here are one or two questions that interviewers often use, to help get you started:


  • What interests you most about this job?
  • What can you do for us that someone else couldn't?
  • Tell us about a difficult problem you have solved.


You should now have a sheet of paper with four jobs written on it (perhaps fewer if the same type of job appeals to several group members), as well as a list of interview questions thought up by your group (double period lesson).


During the interviews there will be two questions from the department manager and two from the team leader. Each interviewer is also allowed follow-up questions. He/she may ask one of these, as long as there is still time, after listening to an applicant’s answer.



The interview

Time for the interview: 7 or 10 minutes for each of four (28 or 40 minutes in all)

Preparing for interview

Before an interview each interviewer should choose two questions from either the list the group has written down (double period), or this list of good interview questions (double and single period).


They should tell the applicant what their questions are going to be.


Interviewers may use a question that someone else has used in a previous interview. But it is good to get through as many different questions as possible during the four interview sessions.


Working with the encourager, the applicant should then figure out roughly what his/her reply will be to each of the questions. You might say something like, "I thought I would answer: 'Because I ...’” The encourager might then reply, "That sounds good. You could maybe also tell them about the time you ....’”


Note to teachers on realism.


While the applicant and encourager are preparing, the two interviewers should discuss the order in which they will ask their questions, and thinking of possible follow-up questions depending on the answers they get from the applicant.

Conducting the interview

The only difference between single and double period lessons, when the questions are being asked, is that a little more time is available in the double period. The activities are the same. Here is what happens:


As a group you decide on your separate roles for the first interview. Remember that everybody gets a chance to play every role. Arrange yourselves with the two interviewers facing the applicant, and the encourager at a third side of the table.


Try to imagine yourself in whatever role you’re playing. Act it out as realistically as you feel able to.


The department manager greets the applicant, thanks him/her for coming and introduces the two interviewers. He/she reminds the applicant what the job is and then asks the first question.


The applicant answers. The interviewer might then ask a follow-up question. The second interviewer then asks a question and the applicant answers. Again there could be a follow-up question. The interviewers then take turns to ask their second questions and any follow-ups.


As an applicant you should try to feel yourself in an actual interview. Aim to give answers that are not too short and demonstrate the skills, qualities and experience you think you will have at the time. Imagine how you will be or how you would like to be in 3-7 years. Be inventive, but try to paint a picture of yourself that holds together and makes sense.


Think too about what the interviewer is trying to find out about you - and why.


When the session is over, the manager thanks the applicant and asks if he/she has any questions for the interviewers. The applicant should try to learn something about the job or the company that is not clear from the information already available. One or both of the interviewers should answer briefly.




When the first interview is over, group members change positions as follows: team leader  → department manager → encourager/timekeeper → job applicant → team leader.


The second, third and fourth interviews are then carried out in exactly the same way as the first, following the instructions between A and B above.



Time for this activity: 6 minutes.


When all four interviews have been completed, your teacher will choose one person randomly from each group (e.g. “number 3 counting clockwise from nearest to the door”). This person will tell the class briefly how the interview went when he/she was the job applicant.


This short summary should cover the name of the company and the job applied for, which question went particularly well, how they could do better next time, and one other thing they learned during the lesson.


Further information

While this lesson concentrates on the manufacturing companies and what they look for in employees and new recruits, it is important for anyone trying to find a job or a career, to learn as much about themselves as they can.


The more you know about both possible partners - you and the company - the better your chances of making a good match.


Ways of exploring your own skills, qualities and interests can be found here.




Double period lesson


Timing (mins)

Website browse          


Choose a company


Initial research


Interview questions








Single period lesson


Timing (mins)

Website browse          


Choose a company


Initial research


Interview questions










Getting there

Notes to teachers

Activity timings

Two sets of timings are provided. These are for


a) a single period lesson of 50 minutes

b) a double period lesson of 100 minutes.


Given the depth and breadth of material and activities, the double period version is recommended but not essential.


In the single period lesson the teacher assigns companies to each group, and interview questions are selected from the list provided, rather than being generated by the students themselves. Other activities are shortened. Back


Researching a company

Manufacturing companies vary greatly in the information they make freely available about working with them, and about being recruited in the first place. A few produce company videos with young employees and/or with recruiters. With a little perseverance more information can sometimes be found in forums and blogs, although these are often written by vocal ex-employees and can be just as one-sided as glossy company products.


This is a challenge students will face when they start looking for employment in earnest. The companies that provide most information are not necessarily those that will suit any individual best - although they are often the largest with the greatest number of opportunities.


In practice anyone interested in employment with a company for which little information is freely available should write a letter or make a phone call to its human relations (HR) department, asking if they are currently recruiting and whether they can provide more information about working there. Back


Realism of interview

This kind of preparation is clearly not representative of an actual interview. But it is good cooperative learning. Back