How to ace your interview and secure a job as a new TEFL teacher

You’ve completed your TEFL course and now have a few interviews lined up, either in person or via Skype. There’ll be others competing for the same job, so how do you ensure you are the one to be hired?

We spoke to Charlie Honisz from Teachers4Thailand, a reputable agency and one we love to work with as the teachers are always taken care of. This is what he has to say:

“Before the interview, we’ll look over your CV/resumé and ensure you have all the qualifications required: native English speaker, or non native speaker with a high TOEIC score, a bachelor’s degree (needed to get the work permit), and a TEFL certificate from a reputable TEFL/TESOL school, one which offers observed teacher pracs, and really prepares the trainees for the real world of teaching.

(Side note: A degree is NOT required to teach in Cambodiasee our Cambodia programs)

Your CV is your first chance to make an impression, and here, clear and simple is best. We want to see a photo of you. We want to see your qualifications and any work experience you have and we want to find out a little bit more about you. We will also scan it for any errors, so do check it before sending it out. Destination TEFL has a great template to use, and it’s easy for us to navigate.

Looks are important. By that we mean: do you look professional and presentable and are you dressed appropriately? Are you neat and tidy? Teaching is a highly respected profession, and you need to dress accordingly.

During the interview we’ll be looking out for a positive attitude, this is very important. We want someone who is willing to listen to job offers, and open to all options – someone not totally closed off to not having things 100% their way. I do understand that people will have reasons for wanting certain places, and wanting to teach certain ages, but if you’re not even willing to hear someone out, it sends the wrong impression about being a team player. Schools can be chaotic, and prone to changes. So you need to be the type of person who is willing to adapt.

Also, be open to teaching different subjects. I’m not saying teaching maths, or science to high-level students (unless you’re qualified to do so), but homeroom teachers are a very large percentage of teachers in Thailand, meaning you’ll be teaching other subjects aside from English.

A lot of time is invested in hiring a new teacher, both by the agency and the school, so someone prepared to see out a full year contract will take preference.

As for tips:

· Well, listen to your offers, and see what everyone offers you. Always ask to speak to teachers currently at the school, or at least teachers that work for the agency.

· Get your job before your accommodation.

· Don’t always chase the money, chase the experience, and make it a great experience.

And some additional advice from us at Destination TEFL:

· Be punctual, no matter what! Plan on arriving early, you can always have a coffee around the corner before the interview. Navigating public transport in a new country or area is not easy, so allow time for getting lost. Arriving late for an interview will create a terrible first impression, and the interviewer will be wondering if you’ll always be late for work.

· Be prepared to discuss a particular lesson you taught, and run through various aspects of the lesson. You may be expected to teach a demo class – be sure to ask if you’ll need to do so BEFORE the interview so you’ll be prepared. Bring sample lesson plans and materials that you have created.

· Bring copies of all your important documents: Passport, police clearance certificates, CV, letters of reference, degree and transcripts, TEFL certificate, etc.

· Remember what you have been taught about the local culture, and respect it and behave accordingly. Address people correctly according to their position and nationality.

· Have a few smart and appropriate questions prepared that you want to ask at the interview, about the job, the school, the students, the location, etc.

· Do not smoke before the interview, and avoid garlic the night before. Arrive smelling fresh, even if it means bringing a change of clothes after a long journey on public transport in the heat.

· Your CV could include YouTube links of you teaching, so your interviewer can see your classroom presence and management, rapport, and general teaching style. Just a few short clips should be enough, and may save you having to do a demo lesson.

· If it’s a Skype interview, ensure you have a good internet connection. Don’t forget to dress and behave as professionally as if it were an in-person interview.

· Smile! Not only does it help you to relax, it will let your personality shine through.

With schools starting to reopen in Asia, it’s time to review your CV and make sure you are well prepared for any interview as you may be called to attend one at short notice. It’s good practice to update your CV regularly and have a digital copy saved to your phone at all times – you never know who you will meet when out and about. Networking is key!

Thinking of doing a TEFL course, either on site in Asia or a virtual course? Email for an info pack.

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