5 Common TEFL Interview Questions

You’ve completed your TEFL Course and you’ve used our Jobs Centre to find a fantastic new opportunity. 

It’s all going swimmingly – but here comes the nerve-wracking part: a job interview. Sure, you’ve done these before. That said, if you’ve retrained or are seeking new experiences with a TEFL certification, it’s still new territory. 

Don’t worry, though. There’s a very exciting precedent at play here – 80% of our students find work within just 3 months. If they’ve done it, so can you! 

So, what are the correct responses in a teaching interview? What should you have prepared? To help you out, here are 5 typical interview questions, and successful ways to navigate them. 

First, though, we’re going to take a look at what you should expect from a TEFL interview, as well as zoning in on the qualities an interviewer will be looking for. 

What to expect from a TEFL Job Interview

If you’ve applied for TEFL job abroad or online, then you’re more than likely to have an interview over Zoom or Skype. So, make sure you’ve got a quiet environment to talk to your potential employer, with a nice clear background for a video call. Make sure to test out your audio and video prior to your interview.

Firstly, there’ll be a question and answer session, for which we’ve prepared you later in this article. 

Interviewers, though, might be looking for you to demonstrate a lesson plan, and even run through a practice lesson during the interview session. Alternatively, an employer may request a pre-recorded demo lesson, which they’ll talk about with you during the interview. 

The best plan, then? Prepare, and prepare again. Teaching English as a foreign language will throw up all kinds of surprises, so it follows that the interview might do the same!

Above all though, expect there to be opportunities to let your personality shine. Employers don’t want to hire a robot, so show them what you’re all about. You’ve done the course, now it’s time to put the learning into action.

A woman interviewing a man in a suit

What employers are looking for during a TEFL Job interview

Foremost, an employer wants to take on a TEFL teacher with enthusiasm. 

Enthusiasm shows in multiple ways, and it isn’t just about saying how excited you are about an opportunity. It shows in the thoroughness of your lesson plan, the thought put into your interview answers, and how much work you’ve put into learning about a particular company, school or even a culture more broadly.

Employers also want to know they can trust you. Do you know how to react if a student is misbehaving? Do you know how to reach out to a student who might be struggling with the material? Can you be relied upon to create the right learning environment?

Practice also shows. If you’ve been asked to do a demo lesson, it’ll be obvious to an employer just how enthusiastic and meticulous you are. The more you rehearse, the more it’ll be apparent that you’re ready for a fantastic new opportunity. This doesn’t mean knowing your lesson plan word for word, or having every interview answer prepared like you’re reading lines in a play, but it does mean putting the right amount of work in to show an employer that they can rely on you to set a high standard for yourself.

Experience can count for a lot in job interviews, more generally. However, if you’re a first-time teacher and you’ve completed a TEFL course, it’s more about demonstrating any relevant experience and transferable skills you have, how much work you’ve put into impressing a prospective employer, and demonstrating that you’re ready to go!

Let’s not forget either, people want to employ staff that they can get along with, and enjoy their company. As with every interview, friendliness is key, and remember, these people have been in interview situations themselves. They get it. So, if you need to, take a deep breath now and then, and really think about what it is you want to tell them. 

5 questions to expect in a TEFL interview

Q: “Tell me about your teaching experience”

Typically, this is amongst the first questions you’ll be asked in a job interview situation. Don’t panic. 

Everything counts. There are many employers out there who are happy to take on first-time teachers who don’t have any formal teaching experience.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have anything up your sleeve, though. Perhaps you’ve had a role where you’ve given presentations. Or, you’ve helped to train new members of staff. Maybe you’ve given talks, or helped with preparing educational materials? You could be a parent, an older sibling or a former child-minder? It’s all relevant!

Most importantly, though, link what you learned on your TEFL course to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you undertook a module specifically about teaching children, ensure you’re drawing on that in the interview. Rather than talking about what you haven’t done during your career, focus on what you do know thanks to your TEFL course, and what you specifically can bring to a new role.

Q: “How would you deal with a disobedient child?”

On the surface, this is a tough question, but it doesn’t need to be.

Instead of imagining a nightmare scenario with a rowdy class, instead set out your stall. If it’s clear you have rules and boundaries within the class environment, you’re more likely to keep students engaged throughout a lesson.

How does your lesson plan look? How are you going to keep students engaged with the material? 

The interviewer wants to be confident you can manage your emotions in a tough environment. If it’s your first teaching position of any kind, they want to know you aren’t going to escalate a situation if a child is misbehaving. 

Two women interviewing a man

Q: “Why do you want to teach English abroad?”

It’s a good question, to be fair: why DO you want to teach English as a foreign language? Of course, there are limitless answers. 

What you want to do here is really excite your interviewer. Your reason will be inherently interesting; you want to explore a new part of the world, you want to expand your experience, and you want to dive into a new culture and way of living, surely?

Interviewers want to be certain you’re passionate about this. They want to know you won’t bail on the job a few months in, and that you’re completely mentally ready for whatever opportunity it is you’re interviewing for. It’s about you, too, and there’ll be other opportunities – but what is it about this one that you’re most excited about?

Perhaps you have a passion for teaching, or you’re keen to embrace a completely new challenge in uncharted surroundings. No need to embellish or exaggerate; if you’ve got a curious enough mind to do a TEFL course, you’ll have a compelling answer in the armoury already!

Q: “What do you know about (this country)?”

This is where we come in! Check out our World TEFL Guide, just in case you need any extra information about a range of different nations. 

This is your opportunity to show off some knowledge. If you’ve already applied for a job within a certain country, something must’ve piqued your interest. Perhaps you’ve already travelled there, or have family who’ve lived in a particular region. Or maybe a film or book inspired you to learn more?

Employers want to know that you won’t face any major issues adjusting to new surroundings. Knowledge of a country, its customs and its culture ahead of time helps massively.

Try to steer the conversation away from controversial topics like religion or politics if you can, and if you have a few compliments handy? All the better!

Q: “Any questions for us?”

This is a crucial one. Remember, in a job interview, it’s not just you under the microscope. The interviewer is there to impress you, too, so asking questions is a really great opportunity to turn the spotlight around and gather your thoughts.

There are some key questions when it comes to a teaching experience. How old are the students? How big is the class size? What’s their current level of ability in English?

Also, remember you have every right to ask about holiday entitlement, employment hours, salary, length of contract and so on. You could be on the cusp of something life-changing, here; there’s nothing wrong with asking for more information.

What about the resources available for teaching? As TEFL Org tutor Carl suggests in this webinar, finding out some more about the infrastructure could be really handy, and also shows that, experienced or otherwise, you have the initiative to wonder about the practical elements of teaching.

Not having any questions prepared can suggest a level of disinterest or disengagement to an employer. So, make sure you have something in your locker to bring up at the end of the interview. 

Search for job opportunities on our TEFL Jobs Centre, or sign up for a course today! 

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