Help on how to answer some of the most common ESL interview questions so you can land your dream job.
So you have your expectations for working internationally all worked out, you know how to be a great candidate, your resume has landed you an interview and you’ve set yourself up to succeed in your interview… now you have to actually speak to the interviewer and sell yourself!
The interviewer has already read your resume so they have a basic idea of what your skills, education and experience are, the interview allows them to get to know you and expand on their knowledge. It also allows you to find out more about the job and whether you believe you would be a good fit for the role.
Often in the ESL industry a video chat interview is the only interaction a candidate and recruiter will have before an offer is made, there is no opportunity for a face to face meeting because of distance. Recruiters are looking for teachers who know what they are doing of course, but commonly they are looking for candidates who are friendly and happy with a genuine desire to teach despite any teaching experience.
ESL Interview Tip #1 – Don’t forget to smile!
You may come across these commonly asked questions in your interview:
- Have you travelled overseas for long periods previously?
This is a good opportunity to talk about previous travel and what you enjoyed. It is designed to give the interviewer piece of mind about your ability to be away from family and friends for an extended period of time and manage culture shock.
- How will your parents and family cope without you?
Again this question is about how you and your family will manage separation for the length of your contract. You may choose to talk about how they are excited for you, and that technology these days allows people to keep in touch regularly. You could even note their desire to visit you during your contract to experience the destination themselves.
ESL Interview Tip #2 – Remember to speak slowly and clearly. Don’t rush your answers!
- How will you manage a classroom whose first language is not English?
The interviewer is gauging how you will respond when things may get tough. It is important to talk about being patient, understanding different learning styles and communicating your expectations with the students.
- Do you have any previous teaching experience?
If you have previous ESL teaching experience make sure you discuss it. If you have other teaching, tutoring or coaching experience this counts too. If you have no teaching experience it is not a deal breaker as long it is covered in your resume. Prior to the interview think of transferable skills that are similar to teaching. For instance, if you helped train new employees at your last job or you regularly babysat children and played games with them. Skills and experience are transferable, and it is important to highlight them to an interviewer. Remember you are trying to sell yourself, but don’t lie or over exaggerate.
ESL Interview Tip #3 – Have a glass of water nearby, take a sip if you need a couple of seconds to think of an answer to a question.
- Are you up to date with technology?
The interviewer isn’t looking to judge you on your skills on social media or your typing speed, they want to know that when you get into a classroom you will be able to use the tools provided. Explain your use and knowledge of common devices and software, and how you may use them in the classroom.
- What do you think makes a good ESL teacher?
Describe behaviours such as friendliness, patience, understanding, good listening skills, open communication and being dedicated to teaching. You can also emphasise that these are traits that you have yourself.
ESL Interview Tip #4 – Don’t ramble! Give short concise answers. You don’t want to be half way through an answer and forget what question you are meant to be answering!
Don’t forget! You need to ask some questions too!
Some questions that you may want to ask include:
- What level of English will I be teaching?
- Are there many other foreign teachers at the school?
- Are there any significant cultural concerns I should know about?
- How many students will there be in the class?
- Will lesson plans be provided for me?
- Can you tell me more about the region?
Remember to ask what the next step is in the process and when you are likely to hear from them. And don’t forget to thank the interviewer for their time!
Still think you need help? Just ESL Resumes can help you with all your resume, cover letter, introduction video and practice interview needs. This is what one ESL teacher had to say “I am a high school teacher in a past life, but had no idea what should be included in my resume for ESL jobs. Just ESL Resumes helped me land two interviews from two applications.”