10 job interview questions your TEFL interviewer should be asking…

10 job interview questions your TEFL interviewer should be asking…

…and the answers you should be giving.

Having had the rare opportunity to sit down and have lunch with my boss the other day, I took the chance to ask her how she went about choosing staff. What is the point behind the specific questions she ask at san interview, what is she trying to decide about the candidate? Of course, behind every interview question there is a concern or another question. Your job as a person seeking employment is to process the question, thinking about what the interviewer’s concern might be. In other words, why is the interviewer asking you this question? Here are a few of the things I gained from my conversation, plus a few hints as to how you could go about answering such questions.

1 – How did you prepare for this interview?

Insight into the mind of the interviewer:

Have you a genuine interest in working here? Are you interested enough to do have done some research, or are you winging it? Good interviewers will size you up on the strength of your response to this question.

Here’s how you could answer:

‘When I found this position advertised on the internet, I was instantaneously interested. I took a look at the school’s website and your mission statement, looked at the profiles of the teachers who are working for you, and was impressed. As soon as we’d arranged this interview appointment, I talked with friends and acquaintances in the profession about your organisation. Also, I’m sure I’ll find out a lot more in today’s meeting with you.’

Show you actually have some interest in working for this school, rather than just needing a job at a school somewhere.

2 – What is your salary expectation for this job?

Insight into the mind of the interviewer:

Can we afford you? Can we get you for less than budgeted? Believe it or not, organisations will look at your qualifications and experience and may be prepared to pay you more than you think.

Here’s how you could answer:

‘I’m sure you understand that I’ll need more information about this job and the responsibilities involved before we can begin to discuss salary. Could you give me an idea of the range budgeted for this position?’


‘I’m sure we’ll have time to discuss salaries at a later date, should you make the decision that you want to hire me. I’m confident you’ll be offering a salary based on my experience and qualifications and I’d be happy to come back for another meeting to discuss this with you.’

You need to show that your interest in working for the school is the main issue of the interview while also showing that you know what you’re worth and won’t settle for less.

3 – How do you keep current and informed about your job and the profession that you work in?

Insight into the mind of the interviewer:

Once you get the job, will you continue to learn and grow, in other words, stay challenged and motivated? Are you looking to use this as a way to finance your carefree, partying lifestyle, or do you have a genuine interest in teaching?

Here’s how you could answer:

‘I pride myself on my ability to stay abreast of what is happening in my profession. I do a lot of reading, profession journals and the like. I belong to a couple of professional organizations and often network with colleagues. I’ve taken professional development courses and attend conferences whenever they are of interest, or offer new insights into the profession.’

Show you care and that this isn’t just what you do during the day before meeting your friends in the bar after classes finish.

4 – What kinds of people do you have difficulties working with?

Insight into the mind of the interviewer:

We all know that there are plenty of ‘colourful’ characters in this profession. Do you have the ability to be flexible and work in a diverse environment?

Here’s how you could answer:

‘In my last couple of jobs, I’ve worked with people from extremely diverse backgrounds and cultures. The only time I had difficulty was with people who weren’t entirely honest about work issues. For example, I worked with one man who was taking credit for creating teaching materials that others had also been involved in making. I had an opportunity to talk with him one day and explained how his actions were affecting morale. He became quite saddened that others saw him in such a way, and said he was unaware of either his behaviour or the reactions of others. His conduct changed after our talk. What I gained from that experience is that sometimes what we perceive about others is not always the case if we take the time to follow it up.’

A specific anecdote is a great way of getting across your point. Be sure to link the event to what you gained from it in terms of working with others, showing that you are able to reflect on the daily events that occur in your working environment and benefit from these experiences.

The second half of my suggestions will appear tomorrow.

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