Saturday 5 January 2008

TEFL Interviews and Demo Lessons

Updated 23 January 2015

Want the Job? Ask for It.
A while back I came across a newspaper article that said one of the best interview tips was to actually ask for the job. They said that people who asked, "Are you able to offer me this job?" were more likely to get the job than those who don't. US News has 10 ways to ask for the job at the interview. Some other people have asked how they measure up against the competition. If the interviewers say that they're lacking certain skills, they give examples of how they have those skills.

Things to Remember While Interviewing

  • Look over your CV
  • Know about TEFLing
  • Think back to your TEFL course
  • Do research
  • Practice
  • Ask questions: check out Things to Ask Before Accepting a Job.
  • Dress appropriately and make sure your shoes are shined as well.
  • Open body language
  • Be honest and be yourself
  • Don't be negative
  • Smile
  • No bad habits: don't chew gum, bite your nails, or crack your knuckles.
  • Teaching portfolio
  • Expect the unexpected: interviewers are asking non-typical questions
More Tips
Questions You Should Ask
An interview is a two way street. You also get to ask questions to see if you'd like to work for them. Do your research and be prepared. Go to the interview with a few questions written down that you'd like to ask. Ask about a typical work schedule (both daily and weekly). You'll also want to find out about meetings, professional development, extracurricular duties, overall work environment, and communication style. It's also good to know how long the typical teacher stays with that school. You could also ask what teachers say is the best thing about working for them. Here are some more questions you may want to ask.

Typical Interview Questions
  • 50 common interview questions
  • Describe your teaching experience.
  • What levels have you taught?
  • What course books are you familiar with?
  • What are your long term plans?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What are your three best qualities?
  • What are your three worst qualities?
  • What was your best teaching moment?
  • What is the most difficult problem you've had to overcome?
  • How do you discipline students?
  • How are you a team player?
  • What's your favourite age group / level to teach?
  • Do you use the students' native language in class?
  • How do you keep up to date with teaching methodology?
  • What professional journals are you familiar with?
  • How would you go about teaching (passive voice, the difference between X and Y)?
  • How would you deal with a supervisor if you knew they were wrong?
  • How can you contribute to the school?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you bring to this organization that no one else can?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to (disregard your lesson plan, deal with an unruly student, confront a supervisor, etc)
  • Why do you want to live in X country?
  • What do you want to work for this school?
  • How are you going to deal with culture shock?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • How are you going to adapt to a new culture / language?
Delicate Questions and Suggested Answers (Also published in ELT World)

  • What religion are you?/ Are you X religion? This could be a legit question if you're applying to a religious school. If you don't practise the same religion, say that while you are not X religion and you will respect their practises during class time. If the school isn't religious simply say that you believe in keeping your personal beliefs personal and out of the classroom.
  • Do you have a boyfriend / girlfriend? This could also be legit if the school is religious or if you are being placed by a recruiter, since they try to place partners in the same school or city. Realise that you might have to live apart while working for the school. Some places are very strict. If the school isn't religious or you're not dealing with a recruiter then say that you believe in keeping your personal life separate from your work life.
  • How much are you earning now? Bad question. Even worse if you answer it. Money isn't the only thing you need to take into account. Let's say that your current school is only paying you $500 but you get free housing, lunch, medical insurance, and pension which is worth about $600. They also paid for your flight and will give you an end of contract bonus which is worth about $2000. However, this school just gives you $900 usd. This means your current job is probably better. When asked this it's probably best to say your employer doesn't let you discuss your salary.
  • How much is your expected salary? They're really asking you what you think you're worth. Say that you would expect to be paid what their going rate is. If you have lots of experience say that you would expect to be paid in the upper salary range.
  • Why did you leave X job after only 3 / 6 months? If you pulled a runner or were fired, take that job off your CV. If you quit, and remain on decent terms with your employer, you might want to leave it on your CV.
  • Why do you want to leave your current job? Say that you're looking for new opportunities. Period. Don't speak badly about your employers.

The Demo Lesson
If you're told about the demo lesson beforehand make sure you have a good lesson plan and bring it with you to the interview. Below are some tips to make sure you have a good demo lesson. I use a light yellow colour. It helps makes my worksheets stand out.

Use Power Point: If they say it's optional, do it. Always prepare a PPT. It just looks better.

Use a clicker: You can download apps for your phone that will work with PPTs. Or you can buy a PPT clicker. It looks more professional, plus they usually come with a laser so you can easily point things out on the slides. Treat the interviewers like students: This seems to be controversial. Some people walk the interviewers through their lesson plan. Other people pick one part and teach it to the interviewers as if they were students. The best advice I have for you is to talk to other people and ask what's expected.

If you're asked to do a demo lesson on the spot, see if they'll give you ten minutes or so to prep. It's nerve racking, but remember to relax and speak slowly enough for students to understand, move around the room, look at each student, and check for understanding, etc. Remember to smile!

If you live far from the school you might be asked to do a video demo lesson.If you're going to videotape your current class, get permission from your supervisor. Let students know that you will be videotaping during class. You'll find that they'll be on their best behaviour. Watch the video before you send it.

This article has also been featured in the ELT Times.


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