Interviewing potential overseas employersWhile it is prudent to put effort into presenting oneself as a worthy candidate for hire, it is important that a candidate for an overseas teaching job learn about the company that he is interviewing with. In essence, he needs to interview the employer.
The candidate should always have a list of questions for which suitable answers must be obtained before accepting an overseas position. Some of them will be gleaned during the interview. Some may need to be asked directly of the interviewer. Don’t rush immediately into your probing. Give the employer your full attention, and the answers you seek may present themselves. However, don’t accept the job without obtaining satisfactory, though possibly incomplete, understanding. Employers should appreciate the knowledge your questions display as well as your desire to consider your commitment carefully.
The points that I want to address in this essay are related to employer’s expectations, the kinds of students you would be teaching, and functional support offered to the teacher.
First, let us consider employer expectations. You want an employer who cares enough to have standards, but you don’t want someone who burns you out. Standards must be reasonable. Find out how many hours you are expected to spend in class each week. Remember that you will need time for lesson planning and preparing feedback as well. I think anything over twenty-five is too high, especially for a new teacher. How many groups will this be split out among? Too many will make it difficult to identify with student interests and needs. Learn if there are additional time eaters such as office time, mandatory special event participation, or long travel between different sites. Impart to the employer your concern that you are able to provide a high level of service to your students. A school/business worth working for will appreciate it.
Next, seek to identify a composite of class types you are likely to find yourself teaching. Find out if the students are children
, teens, adults, or a combination of the three. These questions should lead into greater detail regarding typical backgrounds of the students. You may also get an idea of the language level you will be working with. Enquire if the students all speak the same first language (monolingual) or if they come from differing backgrounds (multilingual). See if you can find out the level of continuity within the groups. Will most of the students know each other already? This may give clues to the stability of the employer. Learn the average class size. Will it be a manageable level? This is especially critical for newer teachers. The employer should be happy that you are actually inquiring about the nature of the job. Any good employer wants potential employees to have a realistic picture of what a typical day will involve. Your interviewer should be helpful and pleased at your efforts. If not, then I would be concerned about how they would treat me should I work for them.
Last but not least, we will look at support. Does the employer provide initial introductions to and orientation of the school? If they don’t provide initial support, then they won’t provide any later on. Seek knowledge about some of the resources, materials, and hardware available to teachers. Are these things you feel confident you can use in putting lessons together? Learn if there is a course book provided. Is there flexibility in lesson planning? Do you have freedom to use your own ideas and address obvious areas of need? Try and get a course book name/title so you can research it and see what you think. Basically, are there indications in place that the employer will be a partner who wants to see you and your students succeed and are willing to help make it happen? If so, then you have probably found someone worth working with.
Remember that english will be a second language for most overseas interviewers. Use simple, concise language. Be discerning. Some answers might seem incomplete because the interviewer(s) are not sure what you are asking. Be selective. Some questions might demand clear answers while others help open windows of insight. Be respectful. Really care and let it show.
Sources influencing this article
-ITTT online TEFL course units. Studied October 12, 2010-April 6, 2011.
Accessed last at 5:42 PM on April 6, 2011
Accessed last at 5:42 on April 6, 2011