7 ESL Job Interview Tips
Anticipating an upcoming interview can be a very stressful time. Whether you have numerous interviews lined up, or you have waited weeks for just one, it is important to remember that you have more to offer the world than the job you hold. Prepare, do your best, and reward yourself for the effort. If the job is truly meant for you, the next call will come.
Tip 1: Tailor your Tactics
Just as a resume and cover letter should be targeted to a specific school, your interview persona should also be tailormade. Yes, being yourself is the most important thing. However, it pays to know exactly what the school is looking for. Does this school only hire young energetic foreigners? Are they looking for someone to fill in on-call? Find out exactly what this school is looking for, and do your best to prove that you are that person. (If you realize before the interview that you are not that person, politely call and cancel instead of wasting anyone's time.) The more you know about the school, its students, and its curriculum, the better prepared you will be to prove that your skills and personality match their needs. Before the interview, visit the website, talk to a teacher, or share a coffee with a group of students sitting on the stairs.
Tip 2: Express your Enthusiasm
Many administrators of ESL schools admit that an enthusiastic and approachable personality is more important in a teacher than a strong understanding of grammar or a structured lesson plan. Some schools even prefer inexperienced teachers who are excited to begin a new career. Whether you are a seasoned teacher or a recent grad, one of the most important things you can demonstrate in an interview is that teaching is your passion. Provide examples of how you knew you wanted to teach from a young age, or how your students have enriched your life. Smile, speak positively, and use your body language to express your enthusiasm for the position. Keep in mind that if you're too over the top, no one will be fooled. Don't give them reason to question your sincerity.
Tip 3: Anticipate an Audience
If possible, find out ahead of time who will be conducting the interview. You can always call the receptionist and ask how many copies of your resume to bring. Don't be surprised if a panel of three or more are waiting for you in an office or boardroom. Panel interviews are common in the ESL field. Teachers spend most of their working hours in a group environment. Panel style interviews help administrators envision how you will handle stress and random questions in the classroom. While you should maintain some eye contact with the person who asks the question, make an effort to show that you are addressing the group as a whole.
Knowing the name of those who interview you is crucial. As best-selling author, Dale Carnegie wrote, "Remember that a man's name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language." Address people by their names both when you enter ("Thank you for inviting me in, Maria") and when you leave ("I enjoyed speaking with you today Mr. Shu"). It won't hurt to introduce yourself to the receptionist, and learn his or her name as well.
Tip 4: Love to Listen
While the main point of the interview is for the interviewer or interview panel to get to know you, make sure to listen carefully when it's their turn. Good listening skills are very important for ESL teachers, as is maintaining comfortable eye contact with a speaker. Many people talk over others when they are nervous or if they think they have something impressive to say. Teachers in general have a bad reputation for "one-upping" other people's experiences. Prove that you are a born listener, by talking concisely and politely in turn.
Tip 5: Consider Culture and Etiquette
While being on time for an interview goes without saying, in some countries, being on time means being more than five minutes early. Take time to look into the appropriate business greetings, attire, and body language that are expected in the country you are hoping to work in. As well as being respectful of the culture, prepare an answer as to why you chose this country to teach in. If your reason is because there are lots of ESL jobs and you are sure you'll find one, pick a different reason!
Tip 6: Question the Questions
You have probably prepared for the typical questions, such as what strengths and weaknesses you have as a teacher, and why you chose teaching as a profession. But, you should also plan for those that are less general. An experienced interviewer will likely ask a few questions that are directed more individually. Anything that stands out on your resume is a potential subject for a question. For example, if you were unemployed for a lengthy time, they may ask you why. They may also ask you about a unique interest or volunteer experience and ask you to speak on how it makes you a good candidate. For example, "I see here that you taught in Korea for two months. In what ways did you have to adapt your teaching style?" Interviewers routinely ask for teaching or real life examples, so have a few in mind from your previous working experience. The types of questions you are asked will also differ from country to country. If you don't have friends in this country, use forums and message boards to find out some typical questions. Do as the experts suggest, by practising with a friend or mirror!
Tip 7: Reward and Replenish
Thinking about the unknown before and after an interview can be exhausting and mood altering for yourself and your loved ones. You can relieve the stress by rewarding yourself on both sides of the experience. Before the interview, treat yourself to a fresh haircut and a new blouse or tie. Remember that the better you feel about yourself when you enter that room, the more confident you will appear. It is also a good idea to have something to look forward to after the interview. Plan to meet a good friend for coffee, or reward yourself with a book or CD you've been wanting. Whether the interview goes how you want or not, you'll feel yourself again in no time.