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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 29 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 29 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 29 – Job Interview 2


Sam currently runs his own company selling used office furniture online. He’s tired of running his own business and wants to get a job with a big company.

Nick: I see from your resume that you’re running your own show as the owner of

Sam: That’s right. I’ve carved out a niche selling used office chairs over the Internet.

Nick: That sounds like a great business.

Sam: I was making money hand over fist after the dot-corn bust. Companies were going belly up every day, and I snapped up all their chairs for a song. But these days it’s becoming harder and harder to find used chairs.

Nick: Wouldn’t you rather continue working for yourself?

Sam: No, I’m tired of working for myself.

Nick: I can see the writing on the wall: you’ll jump ship when you think up another good business idea.

Sam: No, I won’t. I’d always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I got that out of my system. I realize now that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Nick: It certainly isn’t. You work really hard and you’re just as likely to strike out as you are to strike it rich.

Sam: Tell me about it! My best friend invested all his money in starting a company. He ended up losing his shirt!

Nick: Right, we all know people like that…One final point about the position. As you know, this is a large corporation. Are you sure you wouldn’t be happier at a start-up?

Sam: Start-ups are exciting, but at this point in my life, I’m looking for stability over excitement. I’ve got four kids at home, and they like to eat!

Nick: I hear what you’re saying. We could use somebody around here who thinks like an entrepreneur. If you’re someone who can take the ball and run with it, you’d be a great addition.


  • (to) run one’s own show

 to run one’s own business; to have control over an entire business or a part of a business

EXAMPLE: Anne can’t imagine working for somebody else. She loves running her own show as CEO of Anne Global, Inc.

  • (to) carve out a niche

 to start a specialty business

EXAMPLE: Teresa carved out a niche selling DVDs on eBay.

NOTE: A “niche” is the market segment served by a particular product, service, or product line.

  • (to) make money hand over fist

 to make a lot of money; to make a lot of money fast

EXAMPLE: AstraZeneca made money hand over fist with the drug Prilosec. It was a huge success.

  • (to) go belly up

 to go bankrupt

EXAMPLE: Shortly after Borders bookstore opened downtown, the small bookshop went belly up.

  • (to) snap up

 to buy for a very good price; to buy a large supply of something, usually because it’s on sale or in short supply

EXAMPLE: While in Vietnam, Monica snapped up dozens of inexpensive, beautiful silk scarves to sell at her Manhattan clothing boutique.

  • for a song

 cheaply, inexpensively

EXAMPLE: Monica was able to buy jewelry and clothing in Hanoi for a song.

  • (to) see the writing on the wall

 to know what’s coming; to see what’s going to happen in the future

EXAMPLE: The company has canceled this year’s holiday party. I can see the writing on the wall: soon, they’ll be announcing lay-offs.

NOTE: You will also see the variation: handwriting on the wall.

  • start-up

 a small business, usually one that’s been operating five years or less (and often in the technology industry)

EXAMPLE: Julie took a chance by leaving her secure job at IBM to join a risky start-up.

  • (to) jump ship

 to quit a job; to leave a job suddenly

EXAMPLE: When the accounting scandal broke, several financial managers at the energy company jumped ship immediately.

  • (to) get something out of one’s system

 to no longer feel the need to do something; to experience something to one’s satisfaction

EXAMPLE: Tom had always wanted to be a lawyer, but after his summer internship at a law firm, he got that out of his system.

  • not all it’s cracked up to be

 not as great as people think; not as great as its reputation

EXAMPLE: Working for a big public relations firm is not all it’s cracked up to be. The pay isn’t great and the hours are long.

  • (to) strike out

 to fail

EXAMPLE: I’m sorry to hear that you struck out on the job interview. I’m sure something else will come along soon.

  • (to) strike it rich

 to attain sudden financial success; to get rich quickly

EXAMPLE: Victor struck it rich when Microsoft bought out his small software company.

  • Tell me about it!

 I agree with you

EXAMPLE: “Our CEO really needs to get some new suits.” – “Tell me about it! His suits are all at least 25 years old!”

  • (to) lose one’s shirt

 to lose everything one owns; to lose a lot of money in business; to make a very bad investment

EXAMPLE: It’s risky to invest all of your money in the stock market. If the market goes down a lot, you could lose your shirt.

  • (to) take the ball and run with it

 to take initiative; to take charge without a lot of supervision

EXAMPLE: We told the graphic designer what to include in the brochure, and she was able to take the ball and run with it.

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