The dreaded job interview – you’re trying to appear confident and professional whilst your heart is beating like a sledgehammer.
And why wouldn’t it be? The outcome of the interview could have a major impact on your life. Accepting the right job is one of the most important decisions that you’ll ever make.
In this blog I provide 10 questions that you might want to ask at a TEFL interview.
1. What subject(s) will I be teaching?
Don’t assume that just because your training is in TEFL, that you’ll be teaching English.
In China, foreign teachers can be asked to teach anything. So, you need to assess whether or not you can teach what the school wants you to.
2. How old are the students?
Sometimes this will be obvious depending on the type of school.
However, if your job is at a training center, you could be teaching anyone from young children to old people. The skills required to teach each age group are different.
3. How many students are there in a class?
Class sizes in China are large; even a class of 40 would be considered ‘normal’. Obviously, the smaller the class, the better it will be for learning and classroom management.
4. How many foreign teachers does your school have?
The ability to create and maintain a social life is important. You may have a better social life at a school with several foreign teachers and where there are some English-speaking local people.
5. What support is there for a foreign teacher at your school?
As a teacher in a new school, you’ll have to adapt to a new working culture and may need help with things like resources, accommodation or students.
It’s therefore a good idea to find out what support is available and who to contact for each type of issue.
6. What’s the accommodation like?
Although most schools in China will provide an apartment, the quality can vary. Some school apartments are bigger and more comfortable than others and some schools may house you in one campus but require you to teach in another.
Ask to see some photos of the teachers’ apartments.
A typical international high school in China (teachers' apartment tower at the rear).
7. Questions about the contract
Most schools will pay the costs of the medical checkup that is required. However, some may require you to pay first and get reimbursed later. There may be limits to how much they will pay as well.
Some schools may require you to contribute towards the cost of utilities in your apartment, some salary figures are gross and others are net, and so on.
These are just some of the questions that you may need to ask about the contract.
8. Is your university/college a public or private one?
If you’re a professional teacher and take your work seriously, this is a very important question. That’s because there’s a vast difference between the classroom culture at private and public universities.
Students at public universities are generally hardworking, well-behaved and come to class regularly.
On the other hand, students at private colleges tend to be rich kids who have failed their final high school exams. They think that money can buy success so many of them won’t even bother coming to class at all.
9. What are the teaching arrangements like?
At some universities in China, you get to see each of your classes every week. This can provide you with a lot of job satisfaction as you watch your students progress.
At other universities, you may have up to 1,200 students and you will only get to see each class twice in a semester. At such places, your role would simply be to ‘expose’ your students to English rather than to teach.
10. Can you put me in touch with one of your foreign teachers?
The school that has offered you a job will naturally want to present themselves in the best possible light. Therefore, a good way to find out what a school is really like is to ask someone who is currently teaching there or taught there recently.
Some questions to ask the foreign teacher include: What are the students like? What is your impression of the school? Do you get paid on time? And what’s the social life like?
If you follow the advice in this blog, you can greatly increase your chances of choosing a school that is right for you.
What has your experience been like at EFL interviews? Have you asked the right questions? Please comment below.