Task: Work assignment

Working at a Hostel - Interview

Published: 20.12.2012, Updated: 04.03.2017
Hostel manager Iain MacKinnon

In this interview you meet Iain MacKinnon. He is the owner and general manager of Brodies hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here he gives an account of what his job consists of and the challenges he meets as a manager. His staff comes from all over the world. Mostly they are young people staying for a while to get international experience, improve their language and earn money.

Listen to the interview to get an impression of what it is like to work in a hostel.

Entrance Door BrodiesEntrance Door Brodies   

Fancilful hostel entranceFanciful hostel entrance  

Brodies' Canadian staff memberBrodies' Canadian staff member    

Before you start listening to the interview, you should think about:

  • What is the difference between a hotel and a hostel?
  • If you were planning a trip, what requirements would you have for a hostel?
  • Imagine you are a staff member. How can you prepare in order to handle all kinds of guests?
  • Which challenges do you think hostel staff meet?
  • You should be familiar with the concept "stereotypes", meaning that you have a very fixed idea of people, cultures and countries.



Interview (ab. 4 min.)

Listen to the interview once to get an overall impression.

Manager Brodies

Listen closely to it one more time. Copy the table into your text editor and provide key words under each column:

Work dutiesChallengesStaffStereotypesWork experiences


Tasks and Activities

Identify the Objects

Look at the picture from the reception. We have provided the first letter of items to be found in the picture and indicated how many letters the word contains. Try to identify these items:

Iain at work at the receptionIain at work at the receptionK_ _ _
C_ _ _ _ _ _ _
C_ _ _  M_ _ _ _ _ _
W_ _ _ _
D_ _ _
C_ _ _ _ _ _ _
M_ _
W_ _ _ _ _ _  S_ _ _


  • Keys
  • Computer
  • Card Machine
  • Watch
  • Desk
  • Cupboard
  • Map
  • Welcome Sign





Brodies Hostel in Edinburgh is going to hire new staff. They put up this ad on the entrance door:

We need new staff ASAP.
Interested? Please contact
Brodies Hostel,
Manager Iain MacKinnon on tel. +446314051811


You have a gap year from school and have planned a backpacker tour for one year. Part of this year you intend to spend in Scotland to improve your skills in English. You notice the ad and decide to call up Iain about the job.
One of you should be the applicant (arbeidssøkeren/arbeidssøkaren). The other one should be the manager, Iain MacKinnon.

The applicant should:
Greet (hilse/helse) the manager, introduce yourself, be polite (høflig/høfleg), interested and have relevant questions for Iain.
Prepare by looking up appropriate words and terms.

The one who is going to act Iain's part, may:
Listen to the interview once more and make up his mind regarding requirements for the job such as reliability (pålitelighet/pålitelegheit), communication and language skills and attitudes.

Self Assessment

Evaluate your accomplishments in the telephone conversation. In what ways did you succeed? What could have been better? Based on this telephone conversation, do you think you would have had a real chance of getting the job? Give reasons.

Creative Writing

  1. Look at the picture from the reception in Brodies. You are one of the keys in the key box on the counter. Tell the story of your experiences during the last 24 hours.
  2. Write Iain's diary from one day at work.
  3. Look at the pictures of the entrance doors of the hostels. Daytime and nightime a lot of people pass their doorsteps. Make an imaginary conversation where the two doors, talk about what they observed in the last 24 hours.