How can I pass an ESL job interview?

Although it is common for some ESL job interviews to take place over the internet or phone from within the teacher’s home country, many employers still prefer to interview in person on the school premises. Each job interview you have is likely to be a little different from the last, but there are a few simple guidelines you can follow to ensure you give yourself the very best chance of success.

What are the basic things to remember for a TESOL job interview?

It is a well known idea that we form a first impression of someone within seven seconds of the first meeting. Because of this it is crucial that you are aware of some basic interview techniques to avoid blowing your chances before the interview has really begun. The first thing you should always do for every interview is turn up in plenty of time. Once the interview begins don’t forget to introduce yourself and remember to smile, even though you might feel nervous on the inside. Being polite and offering a warm smile are two very simple ways to show the interviewer that you are a confident and positive person with an outgoing personality.

Throughout the interview process the employer will be trying to get a good idea of who you are as a person and most importantly whether you are really serious about teaching. One big issue that many schools have is ensuring that the people they hire fully intend to see out the length of their contract. Every chance you get you should make an effort to be enthusiastic about the job, the school, and the country where it is located. By following these basic steps you should provide an excellent first impression and demonstrate that you are a professional educator who would be a great asset to the school’s workforce.

How should I dress for a TESOL job interview?

Throughout the whole recruitment process you need to keep in mind that employers want to see that you are a serious, professional teacher. Regardless of the location, every ESL teaching job needs to be taken seriously. You might be in a tropical paradise with high temperatures and swaying palm trees, but that is no reason to think that employers will not frown upon interviewees who turn up in shorts and a t-shirt. For every job interview men should consider wearing a suit, or at the very least, a collared shirt and tie. Women can choose between a formal business suit, a smart dress, or a knee-length skirt and blouse. Long hair should always be tied back and tattoos and piercings should be covered.

What language should I use in a TESOL job interview?

Because ESL teaching jobs are based around using the English language, it is important to think about the type of language you use during an interview. Just remember to speak slowly and clearly and to use the same kind of language you would feel was appropriate when teaching in class. It is also highly likely that the person giving the interview will be a non-native English speaker. In this case you should certainly avoid using any over the top or high-brow type vocabulary. While it is true that most ESL jobs involve using only English in the classroom, it is still a good idea to learn a few basic words or phrases in the local language. Simply being able to say 'hello' and 'thank you' in the local language is always going to be a positive thing.

What cultural issues should I be aware of during a TESOL job interview?

As the job you are going for is likely to be located in an unfamiliar environment you should definitely consider doing some research into the local culture and customs. A bit of simple research before your interview could help you to avoid making any unfortunate errors that might spoil your chances of landing the job. In different parts of the world there are different rules around handshakes, how you should sit, what hand gestures to avoid, etc. If you can show the employer that you are aware of any potential issues of this nature, they will further get the impression that you are indeed a professional who would take the job seriously and show respect to the local culture.

What teaching related questions might I be asked during a TESOL job interview?

No one can predict what exact questions you will be asked during an interview. However, it is safe to assume that there will be a number of questions relating to your own ideas about the teaching process. You should prepare in advance for questions regarding your approach to lesson planning, teaching methodology, and classroom management. You might even find you are expected to complete a demonstration lesson as part of the interview. Make sure you confirm this in advance of the actual interview day so you have plenty of time to prepare.