You’ve completed your TEFL course and you’re over the moon with excitement—and not just because you can now teach someone how a phrase like “over the moon with excitement” is an idiom, designed to have figurative meaning. Now you’re looking towards your next step: taking your freshly-minted TEFL certificate and landing yourself a job.
But not just any job. This is your FIRST TEFL JOB and has to check off all of your boxes. Legit company, working with your preferred age of students, hours that work for your schedule, an atmosphere of independence or collaboration (whichever you desire), in-classroom support, well-designed and readily available curriculum. Yes, your first TEFL job will set the bar for your future TEFL career and you want to make sure you start it on the best foot possible right from the get-go—right from the interview.
So how do you nail your TEFL job interview and get the job? Are there specific strategies and tips to follow to improve your chances of getting hashtag hired?
We’re glad you asked. Read on to learn our best advice for preparing for a TEFL interview.
6 tips to help you TEFL interview like you’ve done this before
1. Have your answers to the most common questions pre-meditated and prepared.
Oh, they want to know your motivation for teaching? They want to know what experience you’ve had before? No problem interviewer—we’ve got these questions down because we’ve already prepared for them well in advance.
Write down some relevant bullet points to the following questions and then practice your smooth-talking answers with a friend:
Why do you want to teach English?
Good answer: To use your skills to improve future job prospects, educational opportunities, and overall well being of students in countries with a high-demand for English skills.
Bad answer: “So I can get paid to travel and party duhhh!”
Why should we hire you?
Good answer: Focuses on what you bring to the table, your confidence in your ability to acclimate quickly, your humility towards working in a culture very different than your own
Bad answer: “Because I want the job.”
How would you handle a disruptive student?
Good answer: Create strategies for unruly students that you would like to employ here, such as a three strike rule, talking to their parent, not embarrassing the kid in front of the rest of the class (this can be a big no-no in some cultures), etc.
Bad answer: SPANKS! And other physical disciplinary actions…
What relevant experience do you have?
Good answer: “I’m glad you asked, check out this here TEFL certificate with my name on it…” etc. Also highlight here any jobs or volunteer work such as teaching at a summer camp, at bible school, at an after school program; working your university orientation, a preschool; etc.
Bad answer: “Here’s my TEFL certificate isn’t that good enough??”
What questions would you like to ask us?
Good answer: Here’s a short list of questions I’ve prepared in advance of this meeting. This is your chance to ask about work culture, how the administrative team handles discipline, what your job expectations look like outside of the classroom, do you have to be communicating with parents? Etc.
Bad answer: “None right now, thank you.”
2. Be well groomed.
Dress well. Even if your interview is being conducted online, the least you can do is put on pants. Our best advice is to be as presentable for an online or Skype interview as you would be for an in-person interview.
One, you might have to stand up suddenly (yikes!). But two, being well groomed helps you put your game face on. You’ll be psychologically ready to be your best professional self, to take yourself seriously, and to answer their questions sincerely and appropriately as possible. If you can handle this interview committee, you can definitely handle a TEFL classroom!
3. Have your resume, job application, and their job description printed for reference.
Again, even if the interview is being conducted online, have these three documents handy at your laptop / computer station. It is helpful to review these documents in advance of your interview and to reference them when needed throughout the interview process. Don’t bring up experiences that aren’t on your resume (looks sketchy) and don’t pitch yourself as great at working with kids (if this is a university job). Recall details from your cover letter to round out your presentation on why you’re their best candidate
4. Be interviewed in an appropriate place.
Have your “This is where I blew their minds with my awesomeness during the interview” spot selected in advance—make sure your background is suitable. That means that it’s clean, it’s tidy, it’s neutral, and it’s quiet. Nothing is more frustrating to hiring committees than unnecessary interruptions while they’re trying to assess if you are a good fit for the position or not. Keep the clutter to a minimum and lock your pooch out. Be sure to let roommates know you’re on an important call, too!
5. Confirm your technology is working in advance.
Give your mom or bestie a call to make sure your microphone and camera are in working order. Testing the tech in advance will minimize the need for any unprofessional hang ups and hold ups during your scheduled interview time. Bonus points if you check Skype AND WeChat AND WhatsApp for working video and audio—that way you have back up / contingency plans if one of the softwares decides to out on you.
Triple check your timezone math with a tool like Every Timezone—there’s nothing worse than showing up for an interview too late (or even too early!) because you’re off an hour or more.
6. Sell yourself!
Smile and make sure to get your enthusiasm and personality across. This is not the time to be eating a slice of humble pie (though don’t get cocky, either). Highlight what makes you the best candidate they’ve spoken with all day. Give them confidence in your ability to learn on the go, to prioritize your students’ needs, to put in the effort to have exceptional relationships with your colleagues. Can they trust that you won’t up and leave at the first sight of something hard? Can you handle living in conditions very different than what you’re used to?
You have about 30-60 minutes to instill their confidence in you. This is your chance to shine. Don’t miss it!
You’re ready to succeed at your TEFL interview
Follow our advice above and you’ll be signing the dotted line of your first TEFL job contract in no time. Just don’t forget about us when you’re living it up and loving your best job ever!