How can I pass a TEFL job interview?

Many overseas TEFL employers complete their job interview process online via Skype or Zoom, etc. However, in some parts of the world it is still common for teaching jobs to be secured following a face-to-face interview at the actual school where the job is located. While it is true that every interview is a little different, there are a few common themes that you can prepare for in advance.

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

One huge thing to remember is the old saying that we form a first impression of someone within seven seconds of meeting them for the first time. If you want to get off to a good start and not ruin your chances before the interview has even really started, there are a few simple techniques you should keep in mind. Although it shouldn’t need to be said, turning up on time for an interview is an absolute must. If you can’t manage to do that, why would any employer trust you with a class full of students?

Upon entering the room, make a big effort to smile and to introduce yourself to the interviewer. By flashing a warm smile and being polite you will demonstrate that you are confident and positive, with the right personality to run a productive classroom. During the interview the employer will do their best to find out who you are as an individual and whether you are serious about teaching or just looking for a stepping stone to something else. For many schools one big issue they have is finding staff who will see out the full length of their contract. Whenever the opportunity arises you should try to be enthusiastic about the job, the school, and the country where it is located. These simple guidelines should help you to create an excellent first impression and show the employer that you are a professional teacher who would have a very positive impact on the school and its students.

How should I dress for a TEFL job interview?

When hiring new staff, employers are typically looking to find professional and reliable teachers, so it is important that you take every job opportunity seriously. Even if you find yourself in a tropical paradise, turning up for an interview in shorts and t-shirt is unlikely to make a very good impression. Wherever an interview takes place, men should consider wearing a suit or a collared shirt and tie as a minimum. Women have more options, typically a business suit, smart dress, or knee-length skirt and blouse. Don’t forget to tie long hair back and to cover any tattoos and piercings.

What language should I use in a TEFL job interview?

As the whole role of an TEFL qualified teacher is based on correct use of the English language, it is well worth considering the language you use during the interview process. The key is to speak slowly and clearly, using only language that you would typically use when teaching in the classroom. If the interviewer is a non-native English speaker, which is highly likely, you should keep things simple and avoid any over the top vocabulary. Despite the fact that most TEFL jobs involve using only English in the classroom, it is still well worth learning some basics of the local language. Being able to confidently say 'hello' and 'thank you' in the interviewer's native tongue is certain to gain you a few extra points.

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

Many new teachers find themselves applying for jobs in unfamiliar countries, so doing a bit of research into the local culture and customs is definitely a good idea. Just a few minutes of reading could be enough to help you avoid making a simple error that could prove costly in the interview room. In some countries there are distinct rules regarding handshakes, how to sit, hand gestures to avoid, etc. By demonstrating a bit of local knowledge you can further enhance the impression that you are a serious professional who cares about the job and the local community.

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

Unfortunately, it is impossible to guess what exact questions you will be asked in any given interview. However, you should expect and be prepared for several questions based around your own understanding of language teaching. Make sure you are prepared to answer questions on subjects such as lesson planning, teaching methodology, and classroom management. One other thing to bear in mind is the possibility of a demonstration lesson. In some cases an employer will want to observe you teaching a practice lesson as part of the hiring process. To give yourself time to prepare, it is vital that you confirm whether this is necessary well in advance of the interview date.