What are Employers Looking For? Lesson Plan

ACP Lesson Plan 

Title:What are Employers Looking For?Author: Robert Schoen
Subject(s):  Career Development & Character Development, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 9-12Total Time:  2 to 3 45-minute class periods

Overview / Description:  

This lesson plan will identify what employability/essential skills the employers in the area are looking for in their employees. Students will interview human resource managers at local businesses and ask questions to identify these skills. After they have identified the desired skills, the students will create and deliver a presentation on one of the skills and describe what it means and what it looks like in industry.

Learning goals/objectives:

After completing this activity, students should be able to:

  • identify the skills and attitudes employers in their area are most desired in their employees.
  • create interview questions.
  • interview an industry partner about employability skills.
  • create and deliver a presentation on an employability skill.

Workplace Readiness Skill: 

x   Social Skills x Communication 
x  Attitude and Initiative x  Planning and Organization
x  Professionalism
 Media Etiquette

Content Standards

Wisconsin Common Career Technical Standards

Career Development

Standard: CD4: Students will identify and apply employability skills.  

CD4.a.6.h: Evaluate how self-discipline, self-worth, positive attitude and integrity displayed in a work situation affect employment status.

English Language Arts

Speaking and Listening

WI.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c:  Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.

WI.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

  • Materials:

Interviewing Lesson Plan - "How to Help Students Develop Interviewing Skills" by Bernice Yeung

YouTube video - Martin Scorsese Italianamerican

Learning Activities:

WHO (T=Teacher Focus Lesson; WG=Whole Group\; SM=Small Group; I=Independent)

Learning Activity Task                                                WHO is responsible
for this step?
Approximate time
for task
 Teacher will introduce the lesson by discussing the importance of employability skills to area employers. Brainstorm with students a list of skills they believe may be important to area employers. Then introduce the lesson objective of practicing interviewing skills to find out from an actual area employer the job skills they believe are most important. T 10 minutes
From the lesson plan "How to Help Students Develop Interviewing Skills" by Bernice Yeung linked above:

 Watch the first two minutes of the opening scene of Martin Scorcese's documentary Italianamerican, which can be found on YouTube linked above, and discuss what parts of the interview went wrong and which parts worked.
 WG 5 minutes
 Stage two short mock interviews for the class. Pick a topic that all students can relate to, like Homecoming Week. In the first, only ask closed, or yes-or-no, questions, and discuss how it went ("Did you like Homecoming?"). Next, conduct another mock interview, in which only open questions are asked ("What suggestions would you have for Homecoming Week next year?"). Discuss the difference between the two interviews. Finally, create guidelines about what makes for a good interview question based on what the students have witnessed.  15 minutes
 Teacher will review interview skills from the lesson plan linked above - 

Review the Basics

First, convey the fundamental goals of an interview, which are to:

  • gather information.
  • seek out different perspectives (in other words, remind students that an interview is not the place for expressing their own opinions).
  • "pull out as much information from your interviewee as possible."

High Quality Questions:

Remind students that asking the right kinds of questions will elicit more meaningful responses. Advise your students to:

  • ask open-ended questions.
  • ask follow-up questions.
  • keep questions brief.
  • embrace pauses and silence, and allow interviewees time to think.

Writing the Right Queries

To write high-quality questions, ask students to first research the interviewee and decide what kind of information they'd like to learn from that person. Then, to help students develop relevant questions, describe various categories of questions that could be asked during an interview:

  • Personal ("What is your position in this organization?").
  • Organizational ("What does your organization do?").
  • Ideological ("What skills would you like to see in new employees?").
 T 15 minutes
Have students develop a list of questions that they could ask about employability skills. Then have students Think-Pair-Share their interview questions with a partner. Each Small Group15 min.
Students will get in groups of 2 or 3 and each group contact an area employer. (The teacher may have a preselected list of employers for the student to  choose from). Alternatively, students could individually interview a parent, family member, or other adult about the soft skills they see and don't see in their position. Students will ask questions of the interviewee to determine what skills and attitudes they are looking for in their new hires. Students are encouraged to take detailed notes during their interviews.Each Small Group15 minutes for interview
After interviews, students will regroup with their team members and review their answers. Groups will be asked to present their findings in a small skit demonstrating one of the skills or attitudes identified. Each team should conference with the teacher to choose their skill, but not reveal it to the rest of the class. Skits should be at least 2 minutes in length and include parts for all group members to play. Each Small Group30 min.
Students will practice their skits and then present their skit to the rest of the class. Class members will try to determine the employability skill being presented in each skit.Each Small Group20-30 minutes, based on number of skits


Summative Assessment - Employability Skills Skit - 4 Possible points. 

  • 1 for contacting and interviewing an area employer (or other alternative interviewee)
  • 1 for identifying a skill or attitude to feature in a skit
  • 1 for creating a skit which appropriately features the chosen skill or attitude
  • 1 for performing a skit with all group members


Teacher will lead the class in a discussion on employability skills or attitudes. Students should reveal the employability skill that their skit was featuring. Teacher could lead the class in an exercising ranking employability skills from most to least important.

Extension Activity (for intervention or enrichment):

Teacher could follow this activity with a visit from a Human Resources representative from a local company discussing employability skills, hiring, interviewing, etc.

Class may take a tour of an area company and have a discussion on-site with an HR representative.

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