Preparing for your TEFL job interview, whether it's done by telephone or in-person, is the most important step of getting hired. The preparation is even more important than the actual interview itself, because the more prep you do, the better your interview will go!
Not only will you be much better at answering questions and therefore be less nervous, but you'll also be able to demonstrate that you're taking the process seriously. Somebody who has clearly done their homework is always going to make a great impression on their interviewer.
The following article is going to give you tips for how to do just that. By the time you're finishing reading, you'll know exactly what you need to do to start your own interview preparation, so when the time comes, you'll be the best candidate interviewed.
Step One: Review All Documentation
If you've got to the interview stage already, it's highly likely that you'll have been sent some information about the position you're applying for. The type of school, the age range of students, the location of the school, average hours expected to work, and so on. Make sure that there are no question marks in your head about this. The better that you can demonstrate an understanding of the type of position you're going for, the more likely it is that you'll be the one taking that position.
Additionally, this level of preparation will really benefit you and your decision whether or not to accept the job if it's offered to you. Make sure you're not applying for something that you don't want to take.
Step Two: Research The Country You're Applying For
One of the biggest concerns recruiters have is whether or not you'll be able to cope with living in a foreign environment. You might well have this concern yourself. Take some time to research the country and city that you're applying for. Don't just read a guide book or Wikipedia page (although these can be good starting points), read local expat forums, Google terms like "Teaching in X country" or "Living in X city" and see what sort of information you can gather. Spend a good few hours on this, as it's not possible to learn too much.
One thing we would say is to make sure you try to find a number of different opinions on any issues you read about. You don't want to read something on one blog and let it influence your decision or the opinion you form about a country, you never know if the source is accurate.
This will also be good in helping you to present yourself as suitable for life in that location. Does the city have a strong music culture and you play in a band? That's the sort of information you'd want to arm yourself with and mention in your interview. Equally, someone with a passion for hiking and surfing applying for a job in a coastal city on a volcanic island is probably going to be a good fit, so make sure you mention this in your interview.
Recruiters love to hear this sort of thing, as it makes their decision a lot easier.
Step Three: Touch Up On Your Grammar
Your interview isn't going to consist of a full-blown English test, but there are sure to be a couple of questions. Interviewers will be checking both your understanding of grammar and the English language in general, and your ability to communicate its meaning. Once again, you don't have to be the world's best teacher, but if you can't explain easily what "He managed to open the window" means for example, then you might struggle to impress your interviewer.
Research the core grammar rules and find a few examples of these. Don't panic too much about it or worry that it has to be flawless, it's much more important that you have a great personality than a great command of the English language. Obviously though, if your English is terrible, it's going to be hard to justify hiring you, no matter how radiant your persona.
Step Four: Think About Your Tone
Just like email etiquette, how you speak and present yourself in your interview will be communicating a lot to your interviewer. You should be friendly and warm, whilst being polite and on cue. Don't use too much slang, but don't worry about being too formal and stiff. At the end of the day, most interviewers are normal people looking to hire nice, normal people in turn.
It's highly likely that they will have started out just like you, on the other end of an interview, so they'll understand if you are nervous or a little unsure of things. Project yourself as a nice, friendly person, who is open to life abroad and willing to take on new challenges, and you'll be going a long way toward getting hired.
Step Five: Make A List
List all the things that make you right for the job. Think of examples of times when:
- You lived or travelled alone,
- You demonstrated independence,
- You worked with children (if relevant to this job),
- You taught something (if possible),
- You did anything else related to teaching or living abroad.
You won't exactly be expected to list them all off in the interview, but having these reasons in your head will give you the opportunity to mention them if asked related questions. It will also make you a lot more confident about your suitability for the job, and that in turn will be reflected in your whole interview.
Step Six: Have A Practice Interview
If possible, ask a friend or family member to practice asking you some basic questions. Why you'd be a good teacher, why you want to live in X country, what examples you can give of when you lived or traveled alone or were independent in another sense.
It's more to practice getting your answers clear in your head than anything else, so if there's nobody to help you, practice in front of a mirror to getting yourself doing it more smoothly.
Conclusion: Preparation Is King
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the preparation you do will make the difference between getting hired or not. This cannot be stressed enough. Nobody likes to interview somebody who is unsure of their answers, doesn't seem to know what they're applying for, and doesn't seem suitable for the job. Imagine the relief an interviewer will feel when it's your turn, and you've prepared more than anybody else!