Get Smart: 7 Things You Should Know Before Your ESL Interview

Get Smart
7 Things You Should Know Before Your ESL Interview

Susan Verner
by Susan Verner 19,911 views

You’ve passed the most difficult hurdle; you have scheduled your ESL teaching interview. But what should you know before you get there? How can you best prepare for the big moment?

Make sure your interview goes off without a hitch with these tips on how to prepare for your ESL interview.

7 Things You Should Know Before Your ESL Interview

  1. 1

    Know What You Know

    Know your strengths. It is important to know what makes you valuable and unique, not just as a person, though those are important, but also as an ESL teacher. Try to compile a list of at least 10 strengths that will benefit you as an ESL teacher. Are you organized? Engaging? Patient? Are you a grammar whiz? Can you speak ten different languages? Remember that the strengths you list should directly relate to the job for which you are applying. Business English instructors may benefit from a slightly different set of skills than a public school ESL teacher would. Know what you have to offer once you get the job, and make sure you are ready to communicate those strengths during your interview. Also, be able to offer specific examples from your teaching past that illustrate those strengths in action since specific examples will make the biggest impression on your interviewer.

  2. 2

    Know What You Don’t

    Whether we are willing to admit it or not, we all have weaknesses, and ESL teachers are no exception. Be aware of what your weaknesses are, and be honest with yourself about them. That being said, make an effort to put a positive spin on those negative traits so they do not count against you when it comes to getting the job. Are you a type A personality or do you work hard to make sure your work is top notch? Do you talk too much or are you a great communicator? If you are having trouble putting a positive spin on your negative traits, try taking a positive trait and pointing out how it could be a drawback. Your interviewer will be looking for honest, realistic answers, but she won’t expect you to sabotage yourself.

  3. 3

    Know What They are Looking For

    Know the job. Read the job description if one is available. The more you know about the position for which you are interviewing, the better and more specific your answers will be during your interview. When looking at the expectations for the position, note any areas where your skills particularly meet the requirements for the job as well as where you feel you might struggle. Then think about how you will tackle those challenges once you are at the front of the classroom.

  4. 4

    Know What They Will Ask

    Making yourself familiar with the most common interview questions can help you look more prepared and articulate. You won’t find yourself scrambling for an answer or feel like you are in the hot seat when you have already thought through your answers and practiced them with someone else, if possible. Because speaking in front of groups is a key task for most ESL teachers, the preparation you do ahead of time is sure to pay off during your interview. If you are not sure which questions your interviewer is most likely to ask, do an online search for the most common questions as well as the best answers to those questions. Then get someone to help you rehearse your answers in a mock interview.

  5. 5

    Know About Your Future Work Environment

    Dressing appropriately for an interview can be a make or break factor when it comes to getting the right teaching job. If you are interviewing for a corporate teaching position, dress in business attire similar to that of the company. If you are interviewing for a school or language program, find out what teachers are expected to wear and dress according to those expectations. Showing your interviewer that you can project the right image could be key to standing out from other applicants. In any case, make sure you are well groomed and tidy to make a positive impression that lasts.

  6. 6

    Know enough about the School or Company.

    An interview is not a one way street. You are interviewing them, too. You don’t want to be stuck in a contract that will make you and your employer miserable. This is especially true if you are travelling overseas to teach. By researching the school or company with whom you will be interviewing, you will be able to answer your interviewer’s questions more appropriately, and you will have better, more informed questions to ask of your interviewer. Plus, when you learn about where you might be working before you go to work there, you might find that one organization is a particularly good (or particularly bad) fit for you, your personality and your career goals.

  7. 7

    Know Where You Are Going

    Are you familiar with the location where you will interview? Will you have to travel on unfamiliar modes of transportation? Will you have to find your way around a foreign city via public transportation or drive yourself to a downtown skyscraper? The best plan when it comes to getting to your interview on time is to do a practice run before the day of the interview. Get directions, use a GPS or ask a local to show you where you will need to go to make it to your interview on time. Then practice beforehand, noting how long it takes you to get there and any places you could encounter delays.

Getting the interview is often the most difficult step in finding the perfect ESL teaching job, so celebrate once yours is scheduled.

But don’t stop there. The key to making that interview a success is to be prepared so you are the applicant who stands out from the crowd.


What did you do to prepare for an interview for your dream teaching job?

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