Talk on Trial

Language and the Job Interview - Celia Roberts

Celia Roberts [+-]
King's College, London
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My research is concerned with language and ethnicity. I use two qualitative methodologies, Interactional Sociolinguistics and ethnography to look at disadvantages faced by linguistic and ethnic minorities in interaction with institutions. My publications cover patient-health professional communication, language and cultural practices in the workplace, English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) and institutional selection processes and their potential for indirect discrimination. In the last five years I have directed 6 government funded research projects on health communication, selection interviewing and ESOL.


Language and the Job Interview looks at a relatively untapped area of language and social life: the role of language and interaction in constructing the job interview and how this role produces disadvantage in the linguistically diverse communities of the western world. It relates the specific activity of the job interview to the wider field of institutional discourse and discusses relevant social theories in the light of the data. The volume considers job interviews as key ‘gatekeeping’ encounters within the workplace from two main perspectives: interviews as extreme examples of social evaluation, showing how inferential processes of moment to moment talk in interaction can lead to the ‘small tragedies’ of everyday life; and interviews as a window into social inequality more generally. It illustrates interactional sociolinguistic and linguistic ethnography methodology through the job interview and workplace data and argues for the importance of practical relevance – applying sociolinguistic analysis to educational interventions.

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Roberts, Celia. Talk on Trial. Language and the Job Interview. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jan 2021. ISBN 9781845537692. Date accessed: 17 Jan 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.25075. Jan 2021

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