How do I prepare for an interview for teaching English abroad?

The worldwide market for teaching English abroad covers dozens of countries and many types of employer. In some situations it is normal to complete the recruitment process before leaving home, including an interview conducted via Skype or phone. However, in many of the most popular destinations employers prefer to recruit their teachers via face-to-face interviews on the school premises. While each interviewer will have their own criteria for choosing the right candidate, there are a few simple steps you can follow to give yourself the best chance of securing the job.

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

It is said that it only takes seven seconds to form a first impression, so it is vitally important that you get the basics right to avoid blowing the interview before it has even got going. Rule number one is simple: don't be late. As obvious as it may seem, many potential positions have been lost due to basic timekeeping. On arrival, introduce yourself to the interviewer and don't forget to smile. Politeness can go a long way and a simple smile can demonstrate confidence, positivity, and an outgoing nature. All of these positive traits will be absorbed by the interviewer before you have even sat down. One of the major things the employer wants to know is 'are you serious about teaching and will you see out the length of the contract?' By being enthusiastic about the position, the school, and the country you are in, you will help to allay the employer's fears and hopefully land the job at the end of the interview process.

How should I dress for a TEFL job interview?

The word to remember here is professionalism. Regardless of the location, any job teaching English abroad should be taken seriously particularly when it comes to dress. It might be a sweltering day outside, but turning up for an interview in shorts and t-shirt is almost certain to lose you the job. For men, a suit is ideal but a collared shirt with tie is also fine in most situations. For women, a business suit, smart dress, or knee-length skirt and blouse are recommended. Long hair should be tied back and tattoos and piercings discreetly covered.

What language should I use in a TEFL job interview?

As part of the interviewer's job is to gauge how you would perform in the classroom, it is important to consider your language carefully. Always speak slowly and clearly using the same language that you would use in front of your students. Don't forget that the interviewer will most likely be a non-native English speaker, so don't try to be too clever with your vocabulary. Although many teaching jobs will involve using only English in the classroom, learning a few basic words of the local language is another way of making a good impression during an interview. Don't overdo it, just a simple 'hello' and 'goodbye' in the native language of the interviewer is likely to be appreciated.

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

Brushing up on the local culture and customs before arrival could help to avoid committing a major faux pas during the interview. Many cultures have potential pitfalls surrounding handshakes, how to sit, hand gestures etc. Although minor issues are likely to be overlooked, showing you have made the effort to find out about the local customs will certainly be in your favor.

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

Although you cannot predict what you will be asked, it is safe to assume that the interviewer will ask several questions relating to teaching practice. You should be prepared to cover subjects such as lesson planning, teaching methodology, and classroom management. You may also be expected to teach a demonstration lesson as part of the hiring process.