6 Top Tips for your TEFL Teaching Job Interview

By Trevor Jones
Trevor has been teaching General and Business English, ESP and Teacher Training for the past 7 years in the UK, Spain and France to a wide range of students, following an extensive career in business management.

6 Top Tips for your TEFL Teaching Job Interview

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You have found your perfect teaching job, you have satisfied yourself that the school will be good to work for (see my article -on 5 things to consider when applying for a TEFL job) and you have been invited for an interview. This short article offers some tips on how to be successful at the interview:

First remember what Benjamin Franklin said ¬†– “By failing to prepare, you are ¬†preparing to fail.

Some time spent preparing for the interview really can be beneficial:

1. Research your potential employer

Firstly find out as much as you can about the employer you have applied to work for. Look at their web site, their courses, what are their facilities and teaching resources, what examinations are taken at the school. A small amount of research into your prospective employer will really show that you have thought about the job you have applied for and you can use this information at the interview.

2. Think about why you want the job

Why do you want this job? I want to work in the sun is honest but might not get you the job. Think about why you want to teach at the school you have applied for. It might be the courses they run, their students, for example you might want to develop your skills in teaching Spanish students, or it might be a special skill you bring such as teaching children.

3. Prepare potential interview questions

A good interviewer will try to understand how you deal with particular circumstances that would be required for the job you have applied for. For example, you may be asked: –

  • Can you tell me about a time when you have had to deal with a difficult student?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you have had to coach students to pass examinations?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you have had to teach children?

Think about the requirements for the job and then think about questions of this type that could be asked and prepare good examples. It is also useful to be able to say what you have learnt from the situations you explain.

4. What do you what to know?

Think about questions that you want ask at the interview. Not just about your salary (although of course that is important) but also other questions such as the facilities at the school, the students, support and further training to develop your skills.

5. Strengths and Weaknesses

You might be asked about your strengths and weaknesses or as I like to call them your challenges. We can usually talk about the things we are good at – communications, good team player, etc. But how about your challenges? Think of just one and be prepared to say what you are doing about it – for example, I am working on improving my board work by organising it effectively so that students can fully understand the learning.

6. Dress appropriately

Many TEFL interviews are held by telephone so your dress is not important but if it is face to face or webcam over Skype is being used, dress appropriately. I know of one interviewer who was most disconcerted when a number of her interviewees attended Skype/webcam interviews in their pyjamas! Needless to say she didn’t give them the job.

Finally remember the adage I mentioned at the start and always prepare for the interview!

Best of luck,
Trevor

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One Response to “6 Top Tips for your TEFL Teaching Job Interview”

  1. Julie
    August 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi Trevor,
    I think that your ideas are all very good! ESL schools are not like standardized schools, in that a lot can vary from school to school. With apologies to Forrest Gump, ESL schools are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get!
    The tricky one for me is your #5 – strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to weaknesses, you never want to be too honest about that one. “I’ve been known to steal supplies from the school office”, for example would not be one to use. Something more upbeat like, “My co-workers tell me I’m a workaholic”, or “I turn my paperwork in way too early” might be a more sound response. There is just no good answer to the question about weaknesses, so watch out for that one! Thank you very much for your post.

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