The Conditional Tense Used in a Job Interview

Read the grammar lesson below.  Answer the questions, using the conditional tense.  Then, read the job interview dialog below the grammar lesson to see how the conditional tense is used in our everyday lives. 

The Conditional Tense: What would you do?

-We use the verb would to say what we think we may do in a hypothetical or imaginary situation (a situation that is not real at this time).

-To ask a question about a hypothetical situation, we use a past tense verb with the verb would.

        -If you were _______________, what would you do?

        -If you had _______________, what would you do?

        -If you worked ______________, what would you do?

.       -If you could _______________, what would you _________?

Examples of Questions:

1. If you were president, what would you do?

2. If you were rich, what would you do?

3. If you had children, what would you do?

4. If you worked on a farm, what would you do?

5.  If you could have any job, what would you be?

-To talk about a situation that is not real, we construct the sentence using a past tense verb and the verb would:

        -If I were _______________, I would ______________.

        -If I had ________________, I would ______________.

        -If I worked ________________, I would ______________.

Examples of Answers:

1. If I were president, I would try to increase the number of jobs.

2. If I were rich, I would open a homeless shelter with a school and a library.

3. If I had children, I would try to live in a small and safe city with good schools.

4. If I worked on a farm, I would harvest corn, strawberries, and tomatoes.

5.  If I could have any job, I would be a police officer.

Examples of Questions and Answers:

A: If a friend helped you to find a job, what would you do?
If a friend helped me to find a job, I would cook a special dinner for my friend.

B: If you had a headache, what would you do?
If I had a headache, I would take some aspirin.

C: If a customer was angry, what would you do?
If a customer was angry, I would remain calm and listen. Then, I would fix the problem. I would always be polite and professional.

D: If you could have any job, what job would you have? If I could have any job, I would be a nurse.

Conditional Tense: Practice Exercises

Now try answering the following questions, using the conditional tense.

1. If a friend helped you to find a job, what would you do?

2. If you had a headache, what would you do?

3. If a customer was angry, what would you do?

4. If you could have any job, what job would you have?

5. If you were rich, what would you do?

Job Interview Conversation Practice

Are you here for the job interview?

Yes. I am here for the job interview.

I see that you are ten minutes early. That is wonderful! It is nice to meet you.

It is nice to meet you too.

Let’s take a look at your job application. You have a very interesting job history. Tell me about it.

I have had many different jobs. I worked in a restaurant for three years, so I have a lot of customer service experience. In my country, I worked as a math teacher for five years, so I have a lot of teaching experience too.

What did you do before you were a math teacher?

Before I was a math teacher, I worked in a factory, where I used a sewing machine to make clothes. As a child, I also worked on my family’s farm for many years, so I have experience working in agriculture as well.

You have had a very interesting life. Now, I am going to ask you a couple of hypothetical questions. If a customer was unhappy, what would you do?

If a customer was unhappy, I would ask the customer about his or her experience. I would listen politely and find a solution to the problem as quickly as possible. I think it is very important to always be professional, efficient, and offer excellent customer service.

That’s a wonderful answer. If a coworker’s child was sick, what would you do?

If a coworker’s child was sick, I would offer to cover his or her shift.

Good. You sound like a team player. I think, given your experience and customer service skills, that you would be perfect for this job. When can you start?

I would like to start working immediately.

Excellent! Let me show you around and tell you more about the job.

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