Using an Entrepreneurship Video for Interview Training

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

As I wrote at the end of the ESP project leader profile of David Kertzner, “my conceptualization of leadership includes communicating to create and to achieve visions.” In this connection, I was very pleased to come across the story of an entrepreneur who had the vision to create a company that significantly impacted the telecommunications industry in Japan. In Japan, where I live and teach business English, I showed the video recording of an interview of the entrepreneur to my undergraduate students, who are studying business.  My objective was to prepare my students to succeed in their job interviews in the future.

The video recording that I showed to my students is titled: “The Global IT Industry and Entrepreneurship: Where Did We Come From and Where Are We Headed?” In the video, Peter Cowhey, who is dean of the School of Global Policy and Strategy (formerly IR/PS) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), interviews Sachio Semmoto, who is former chair and CEO of eAccess Ltd./EMOBILE Ltd. Based on my own experience interviewing leaders, I could deeply appreciate the approach of Cowhey, who shows us how Semmoto’s success was due to various internal and external factors. As a linguist, however, I was focused on the communication in the interview.

In showing the video of the interview to my students, there were several points that I wanted to emphasize.

1. Control of the interview

First, although Semmoto spoke relatively slowly and made a few English language mistakes, he was in control throughout the entire interview. For example, in the beginning of the interview, Cowhey asks why Semmoto decided to study in the United States to get a PhD degree.  Semmoto, however, did not respond immediately to Cowhey. Instead, he addressed the audience and talked about San Diego and how important UCSD had become (as a way of complimenting Cowhey). Then he responded to Cowhey’s question. I wanted my students to understand that they, too, could control the interview. (Note: In regard to control, I also pointed out that if they were asked a question after a presentation, they could repeat the question to the audience and respond to the audience rather than to the person asking the question.)

2. Self-promotion with impressive details

In addition, Semmoto was skilled at showing his success with impressive details. For example, when he talked about receiving a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States, he mentioned that only one out of 200 or 300 applicants was successful.  Later, when he talked about starting up his company (KDDI)  to compete against the privatized NTT in Japan, he made us aware that he was the only one of the more than 300,000 employees in NTT that stood up to take action to start the company that would be a competitor for NTT.

3. The C.A.R. model for success stories

In the Triton Career Guide (2014-2015 edition) of U.C. San Diego, you can read on page 27 about the C.A.R. method used for preparing for behavior-based interview questions:


Semmoto’s story about creating KDDI could be presented in a C.A.R. framework. The CHALLENGE would include information about the monopoly of NTT, the size of the company, NTT’s close relationship to the government, and so on, and the opportunity for a new company that would be a competitor to the privatized NTT. The ACTION would include recruiting a partner (i.e., Kazuo Inamori of Kyocera) and obtaining the support of the government of Japan, and so on. The RESULTS would refer to how KDDI, which had been started by two men from the ground level, had grown to be a $60 billion company.

After discussing with my students the creation and success of KDDI, my students went on to prepare and to share their own success stories in class. I reminded my students that they need to do two things: 1) create success stories, and 2) learn to effectively communicate those success stories.

Finally, in regard to ESP related success stories, we can learn from the ESP project leader profiles in the TESOL Blog about how to tell our own ESP success stories more effectively!

All the best,


About Kevin Knight

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight (PhD in Linguistics, MBA, MPIA) is an associate professor in the Department of International Communication (International Business Career major) and has also been working in the Career Education Center of Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. In the TESOL ESP Interest Section (ESPIS), he has served as chair and English in occupational settings (EOS) representative, and he is currently the ESPIS community manager. He was also a member of the Governance Review Task Force (GRTF) appointed by the board of directors. In addition, he has been a TESOL blogger in the area of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). He has more than 30 years of professional experience working for private, public, and academic sector institutions including Sony and the Japan Patent Office. His doctoral research on leadership communication (i.e., discourse) as a basis for leadership development was under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Christopher Candlin and Dr. Alan Jones.
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