Congratulations! You’ve got yourself an interview for a TEFL job; your training and hard work have come to fruition.
Now it’s time to wow an employer with your experience, your know-how, and your enthusiasm for teaching English. It’s not just about answering questions, though. We’ve covered – in detail – what to expect to be asked when you have a TEFL job interview. Asking questions is just as important as answering them.
Consider this; you don’t want the last word you say at a job interview to be “no”, do you? That’s what’ll happen if you don’t have any questions prepared, and an employer will be surprised if, for such a life-changing opportunity, you don’t have any queries.
Firstly though, let’s talk about how you should prepare for a TEFL job interview, before getting to the kinds of questions that need to be asked.
Preparing for a TEFL interview
When it comes to a TEFL job interview, preparation is everything. Before you embark on an interview for a TEFL job, research the company you’ve applied to. It’s crucial to know as much as you can about who you could possibly be working for.
Remember, it’s an audition for them as much as it is for you. An employer ought to be selling themselves to you, just as you’re trying to impress them. Knowing plenty about the company, whether it’s a school, university or something else, really is important. What makes them stand out to you?
It’s also worth researching the country of the company you’re applying to. If, say, you’re applying for a TEFL job in South Korea, it helps to know plenty about the culture, the demand for learning English there, and what the typical wages and hours are. That way, you’ll have a solid grounding when you’re asked about what your motivations are to teach English in a certain part of the world.
Reviewing your course material beforehand is also a great way to prepare. Employers might well ask you about what you’ve learned during your TEFL course, so having materials handy that you can draw upon is ideal.
Finally, getting to grips with the technology you need is imperative. Most likely, you’ll need to have knowledge of Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or equivalent software. Practice first, so you don’t encounter any problems connecting with the interview.
Why is it so important to ask your own questions in a TEFL interview?
It’s crucial to ask your own questions during a TEFL interview.
Foremost, it shows a level of enthusiasm. For an employer, not asking questions can be seen as a sign of disinterest, or even apathy. That’s the last emotion you want to convey in an interview setting!
Secondly, it’s important to show how well you’ve prepared. Asking specific questions about locality, facilities and the student pool is a great way to show an employer that you’ve put the requisite preparation in.
Perhaps most importantly of all though, it’s for your own benefit. If you’re moving from Glasgow to Granada, Baltimore to Brazil, or Cardiff to China, you want to be certain it’s for an employer that shares your values and outlook. The last thing you want is to take a job where, three months down the line, you’ve realised your employer hasn’t told you everything you need to know.
7 questions to ask in a TEFL interview
So, now you know why it’s important to ask questions during a TEFL interview.
What questions should you be asking, though? Here are 7 we’d recommend asking if the answers to them aren’t clear by the end of the interview.
1. Is there a structured curriculum, or do I have more autonomy in what I teach?
This is a really crucial one. Fundamentally, you have to believe in what you’re teaching, otherwise, it’s hard for students to connect with the material.
If the employer doesn’t have an organised curriculum, you’ll essentially be making lesson plans from scratch. That’s pretty tough going, especially if it’s your first TEFL job, although increased autonomy does suit certain teachers.
Ask if you’re able to implement your own teaching ideas or methods. Perhaps you’d like to use specific lesson plans from your TEFL course. Or, you’d like to incorporate games or another practical form of learning.
Ultimately, this is the day-to-day, nitty-gritty stuff that you need to know from an employer. If you’re not going to enjoy the job, is it worth doing?
2. What teaching resources are available to teachers?
This, too, is a really crucial one.
Will you be expected to provide all of the learning materials for classrooms? Or, does the employer have a range of materials to utilise during lessons? Is there a library? Does the prospective employer have access to DVDs/TV, and media utilities in general?
Your best lesson plans might involve a range of media. Or, it might be more pen and paper orientated. Either way, you need to know what you’d be working with before launching into a new role.
3. Is there ongoing training for teachers?
Depending on the size of the organisation you’re interviewing for, there might be chances to boost your CV with further training. There are plenty of further learning courses available for TEFL teachers, and it’s definitely worth seeing if an employer will fund training for you.
An employer benefits because they’ll have a teacher who’s put extra hours into honing their craft, and can bring what they’ve learned into the teaching environment.
Smaller schools or organisations, however, may not have the budget to help you with this, nor the interest. That’s something to consider before signing a contract.
4. Are there any additional duties outside of teaching hours?
Some teachers, especially in smaller schools where they might be the only English teacher – or indeed English speaker – might be expected to do extra work. That could be marketing the school, or even editing and proof-reading copy in English for a school website.
Or, there might be the more basic extra-curricular activities; open days, administrative tasks, parents’ nights, and all of the normal trappings of the life of a teacher.
So, it’s ok to ask an employer how much they’re expected to do beyond the remit of teaching English. You’re entitled to ask whether it’s going to be a case of just teaching classes, or a more all-encompassing role within an organisation.
Whether you embrace the extra stuff, or you just want to run classes, is up to you.
5. How many teachers currently work in the English department?
Are you going to be steering the ship by yourself, or part of a larger team? While some prefer to work more independently, others like being part of a team. Are the people in that team native English speakers? Or, have they learned English from a teacher like you?
This is an important question, and it’s central to the experience you’re going to have. When moving somewhere totally new, having people in your corner who’ve had similar experiences is invaluable.
Or, you want to prove that you’re able to move and embrace teaching English all on your own. Both are entirely valid, but it’s worth knowing what kind of set-up you’ll be potentially walking into.
6. How many students are in a class?
One-to-one teaching and teaching a class of 30 are very different prospects. Teaching a class already proficient in English is different to teaching 5-year-olds their first words and phrases.
So, it’s a valid question. To properly prepare for your next TEFL job, you need to know the expectations that are on you, in terms of numbers. Are you going to be teaching a secondary school class, for example, or a small group of adult learners?
Also, the proficiency of the class is very important. Your employer should have a linear structure, with beginners, intermediates and advanced learners of English in different classes. Otherwise, it can be very difficult to prepare the right lesson plan and materials.
So, it’s really multiple questions in one; it’s not just about how many students there are, but the environment and how advanced they are in learning English already.
7. Asking about what you can expect to earn
If you’ve done your research beforehand, you’ll have an idea of what you should earn while teaching English.
Regardless of where you are, earnings should be balanced with the cost of living. There’s no point taking a job if you’re going to struggle to get by. The last thing you want is to be stuck if, for some reason, the job doesn’t work out the way you’d hoped.
Higher salaries tend to be on offer in Asia and the Middle East. If you’re looking to earn more serious recompense for teaching English abroad, then you’re best looking there. However, that’s not to say that a decent living can’t be made elsewhere.
Check out our World TEFL Guide to get an idea of the salary expectations worldwide.
Consider travel, advanced TEFL courses, Visa application costs, and accommodation; is your employer going to cover some or all of these costs?
Furthermore, are you allowed to tutor on the side? Some employers will have no issue with this. Or it might be prohibited by the visa or terms of your contract. It’s important to check!
Other questions to consider
- How will I be paid (bank transfer, cash in hand?)
- Is there a dress code?
- How many hours per week will I be contracted to work?
- What is your holiday allowance?
- Are there teaching assistants?
- Are there mentorship schemes in place with more experienced teachers?
- Will I need to work at one or multiple locations?
- What is your policy on sick days?
- Can you tell me what a typical day in your school/university/organisation is like?
- Am I expected to work overtime? Is it paid?
Now you know what to ask in your next TEFL interview. Remember; it’s not just you who’s showcasing their best qualities, an employer has to be attractive to you.
Asking the right questions shows initiative, enthusiasm and attention to detail. There isn’t an employer going who wouldn’t value those traits!
Check out our TEFL Jobs Centre to discover teaching positions all over the world and online!