Being interviewed for a teaching position

Interviews are conducted to see the person behind the CV; whether the teacher is going to be a suitable fit in the job role being offered. It’s a chance for the employers to engage with the individual and similarly for the interviewee to show themselves in the best light and understand how the company operate. Being on both sides of the interview panel gives an insight as to what makes a good and a bad interview.

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Appearance in the interview

For most teachers, this will be the first time meeting the interviewers and therefore will be an opportunity to give a positive first impression. Arriving in plenty of time to make sure that you look presentable and the chance to freshen up (especially after running around in the current 35 degree heat in Ho Chi Minh City)  and will help acting professional by looking professional. Smart attire is preferred, although most employers do not deem a tie necessary unless stated – a smart shirt tucked in to smart trousers (or jeans) with suitable shoes is the norm.

Once seated in the interview make sure your body language reflects your attitude for the job. Sitting slouched in a chair with your arms folded does not give out the right impression. Good posture and body language can say a lot about you and projects a good image of yourself. Interviewers are going to want to see energy and enthusiasm from candidates, especially teaching kindergarten and children due to keeping attention spans and optimizing learning ability. Be passionate about what you are saying and make eye contact as much as possible to show interest and strong communication skills.

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Following from the above, the purpose of these interviews is to hire competent teachers, so make sure you are speaking clearly and confidently, as if you were teaching a class. Naturally some teachers will feel nervous in interviews, so take deep breaths and try not to be too shy.

Questions in the Interview

The first couple of questions in an interview will usually be quite easy and gathering information about the individual; being asked to ‘tell us about yourself’ or similar is quite a common starting point. They will ask questions related to your CV and the job role; be prepared for some tricky questions – they are not there specifically to catch you out but it is an indicator to see how you deal with particular situations, especially if you have been put on the spot. The worst thing to say in situations like this is ‘I don’t know’ or shrugging of the shoulders, even if you have to justify your answer, it shows the train of thought taken to get to that conclusion.

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If you have experience working within a learning environment, be prepared to speak in a little more detail about your experience. There are fundamental differences between public schools, international schools and language centers, so think of what you enjoyed (or perhaps didn’t enjoy) when working in these places and use that to your advantage.

Researching the company and relating the job role to your CV is good preparation for some of the questions. Another reason to research beforehand is the same way that the interviewers want to know about you, this also works the other way around. Always come prepared for a question or two at the end of the interview; it shows that you have investigated the job further and an interest whether the business is the right fit for you, which is extremely important if you’re signing up for a long term contract.

To summarize:

  • Speak with passion and confidence in your interview, teaching English requires someone who can keep students’ attention and interact with them, demonstrate this where you can.
  • Present yourself well – it shows organization and leaves the impression that you are a respected professional.
  • Conduct some of your own research, ask questions to make sure you are happy with the job role and give yourself the chance to get to know the school or employer.
  • Allow time to prepare for the interview. Make sure you know the correct address and your method of transport. Think of some ideas for questions you may be asked in the interview.
  • Avoid saying ‘I don’t know’, if you find the question difficult to answer, give yourself a minute to think and justify your answer.

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