Cambridge First Certificate in English interviews do's and don'ts
1 Be friendly, be polite. This is a chance to show the
examiners how well you can speak English, not a fight to
2 Learn some words that may come up, e.g. the name of
the subject you are studying or the job you want to do
in the future.
3 DO NOT learn a little speech by heart. It sounds
unnatural and you'll get even more nervous than you
need to be trying to remember it.
4 Keep eye contact with the examiner. That means looking
him or her in the eye rather than staring at your shoes
or some point on the wall behind them.
5 Remember there are no wrong answers here, only well-
expressed and badly expressed ones.
6 DO NOT give short, monosyllabic answers, nor tell them
the story of your life.
1 Remember that the question you'll be asked about the
photos will have three parts, answer all of them.
2 If you don't understand the question ask the examiner to
repeat it. You'll not lose marks for this. However, you will
lose marks for answering the wrong question.
3 DO NOT stop speaking till the examiner tells you your
time is up.
4 Pay attention to what the other person says as you will
be asked a similar question to theirs when they finish.
1 Make sure you understand the question before you start
speaking. If necessary, ask the examiner to repeat it.
2 Move your chair so that you are facing the other person.
Remember what we said about eye-contact.
3 Start with a question, not a monologue.
4 Listen to what the other person says, comment on it, ask
5 Disagree with the other person whatever they say. It's
always easier to have something to say if we disagree.
6 Give the other person chance to speak. You'll lose
marks if you monopolise the conversation.
7 DO NOT stop speaking until the examiner tells you that
your time is up.
1 Remember the questions asked in this part are always
connected with the topic in part three.
2 Give full answers, not just short, monosyllabic ones
3 Comment on what the other person says, use their
4 There are no wrong answers, only badly-expressed
1 Hand out the photocopy with the advice and go through
any difficult words or ideas.
2 Choose two students and do a FCE interview with
them. The other students then have to see if those being
interviewed have followed the exam tips.
3 Divide the class into two, each of the students
interviewed then discuss their performance with the group.
I often record these interviews on digital camera and put
it onto a cd which the students can watch at home.