Interview Tips for Getting a Job as an ESL Teacher

If there’s one thing you’ll have to do before you get a job teaching ESL abroad, it’s get interviewed. Assuming you’ve done your research about the country, the company, and about teaching ESL in general, you’re ready for your first interview. Here are some tips to help you through the interview process. I’m no interview expert, but these pointers have served me well in my search for jobs. Below I’ve posted a couple other resources for you.

Before the interview begins

  • Prepare yourself mentally. Take a few deep breaths and do your best to relax. You’re probably nervous, but that’s okay, shows you want to make an impression.
  • Block out unnecessary distractions. Close Facebook and Twitter, turn off your phone or at least put it on silent and put it somewhere you can’t see it.
  • Focus and prepare a few answers in your head. You might find it beneficial to write down a few questions you’d like to ask your potential employer before the interview begins. Relying on your memory is a bad idea since the emotion of being interviewed will take over and you’ll probably forget. Further, by writing down your questions, you’ll also be able to think of some questions your employer might have for you. Write down those answers too so you can refer to them during the interview, if necessary.
  • Dress professionally. Even if you’re talking over Skype, the way you dress will boost or hinder your confidence during the interview. Interviewing in your underwear is NOT recommended. Guys, collared shirt, tie and casual pants, though a polo shirt can replace the shirt and tie. Girls, a nice blouse and skirt, dress or other business attire. Use your best judgment and err on the side of caution. Many places in Asia, despite the heat and humidity, require their employees to dress in formal business attire every day.
  • Resume. Many interviews will held over Skype or over the phone. It pays to have a copy of your resume printed off and sitting in front of you for your own reference during the interview. If you’re being interviewed in person, bring a copy with you to make your employer’s life easier (in case it’s gone walkabout in their office.

During the Interview:

  • Speak slowly and clearly, even if your interviewer is a native English speaker. By speaking slowly and clearly, you have time to gather your thoughts and speak what you mean instead of fumbling for something to say.
  • Listen and ask questions when pertinent. Interviews are never one way streets, often you want to interview the employer to see if you like them and want to work for them.
  • Don’t forget to ask about when you can expect to know the company’s decision. This will save you a lot of anxiety of waiting around and wondering about it.

After the Interview:

  • After the interview is over, send a thank you email to your interviewer thanking them for the time they took to talk to you about the job and reiterating your interest in working for them. It goes a long way and sets you out from the rest, most of whom don’t send thank you’s!


If you need more information, take a look at the interview tips posted by popular ESL recruiters Teach Away, Inc. and Footprints.

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