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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 28 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 28 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 28 – Job Interview 1


Donna, a Human Resources Manager, is interviewing Marina for a sales position.

Donna: Tell me about your most recent work experience.

Marina: Right now I’m between jobs. In my last position, I was a marketing associate at Comtek International. I was there for two and a half years.

Donna: I know I’ve heard of them, but I ‘m drawing a blank right now. What do they do?

Marina: They produced international trade fairs. They were bought out last month by a much larger company and all of us were let go.

Donna: I see from your resume that you also worked in sales for the company.

Marina: Yes, that’s right. It was a small company, so I wore many hats. It was very exciting.

Donna: What are you looking for in a job?

Marina: Well, I’m a real people person, so I would like to take a position where I have lots of interaction with different people.

Donna: Describe your ideal boss.

Marina: I work well with all different types of people. But I guess my ideal boss would be hands-off. I prefer to work independently and not to be micro-managed.

Donna: Tell me about a time when you had to think outside the box in your work.

Marina: When I was at Comtek, we didn’t have any money to buy advertising. I put in place a program offering magazines a stand at the trade show in exchange for an advertisement in the magazine.

Donna: That sounds like a good idea! Tell me, what sparked your interest in our sales position?

Marina: I noticed from your job description that it requires a lot of interaction with the marketing department. I’m very interested in marketing, so I thought this would be a good stepping stone to a marketing position.

Donna: Yes, this would be a good way to get your foot in the door of the marketing department.


  • between jobs

 out of work; unemployed

EXAMPLE: Barbara is between jobs right now. She hopes to find a new job soon.

NOTE: Saying one is “between jobs” sounds better than saying one is “unemployed.”

  • (to) draw a blank

 to be unable to remember

EXAMPLE: I can’t remember the name of the hotel where we stayed in Budapest. I’m drawing a blank.

  • (to) buy out

 to purchase an entire business or someone’s share of the business

EXAMPLE: When Victor’s company was bought out by Microsoft, he was able to retire.

  • (to) let someone go

 to fire someone

EXAMPLE: Mepstein Industries let their accountant go after he made a major mistake calculating the company’s tax bill.

  • (to) wear many hats

 to perform many different job responsibilities; to play many different roles

EXAMPLE: There are only five employees at our company, so we all have to wear many hats.

  • people person

 somebody who likes working with people; a friendly person

EXAMPLE: You’re sure to like Paul. He’s a real people person.

  • hands-off

 not too involved; passive; not interested in managing details

EXAMPLE: Don’t worry, Chris won’t get involved in all of your projects. He’s a hands-off manager.

  • (to) micro-manage

 to manage too closely; to be too involved in the details

EXAMPLE: Heidi gets involved in every detail of her employees’ work. She has a reputation for micro-managing.

  • (to) think outside the box

 to think creatively; to think in a new and different way

EXAMPLE: The small law firm is losing business to larger rivals. The firm needs to think outside the box and come up with some creative ways to market its services.

NOTE: This expression is now overused. You will likely hear it, but you may not want to use it.

ORIGIN: This phrase refers to a puzzle used by consultants in the 1970s and 1980s. To solve it, you must connect nine dots, using four straight lines drawn continuously. Your pen must never leave the paper. (The only solution to this puzzle is to draw lines outside the border of the box. Therefore, you must “think outside the box” to solve the puzzle).

  • (to) put in place

 to establish; to start; to implement

EXAMPLE: Next month, the company plans to put in place some new rules for filing expense reports.

  • (to) spark one’s interest

 to raise one’s interest; to cause one to become interested in

EXAMPLE: An article in the Wall Street Journal sparked Don’s interest in investing in Brazil.

  • stepping stone

 a way of advancing or getting to the next stage; a position, a product, or an activity that comes first and prepares the way for what will come next

EXAMPLE: Jennifer views her position as a human resource manager as a stepping stone to a larger position within her company.

  • (to) get one’s foot in the door

 to get into an organization; to take a position with an organization that could lead to a bigger opportunity in the future

EXAMPLE: Taking a job as a receptionist is one way to get your foot in the door of a company.

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