ALL You Need to Know for a TEFL Job Interview – Part 1

ALL You Need to Know for a TEFL Job Interview

You’ve done it! You earned your Trinity College CertTESOL Certificate.


EBC had 2 Job Workshop days and you have been told about TEFL interviews, what the interviewer may ask, how you should answer these questions, how you should dress, act, etc. etc. You feel ever so prepared until the first email or phone call asking you to come for an interview!

You are now panicking about how to prepare for the interview that will get you your dream TEFL job. A TEFL interview is just like any other traditional one. However, in a TEFL interview you can expect not to meet the interviewer in-person but via Whatsapp, Skype, Viber or a phone call while sitting in a different country. There is one common thing though – they can all be nerve wracking or even nightmarish! It’s all the same whether you´re an experienced or a newly certified English teacher, the preparation time can be stressful.

We are EFL/ESL teachers as well (although a bit long in the tooth) so we are aware of how it feels to go for an interview. We have created this post to offer you the most practical tips and tricks to help you bag that dream TEFL job in your upcoming interview.

TEFL job interview

TEFL job interview

You have made it to the interview stage which is your door opener and now you need to give a good impression to convince the DOS (Director of Studies), who is usually the one conducting the interview, that you are the one for the job.

Here are the tips that will enhance your chances of bagging that dream TEFL job!

Do your homework. Research the TEFL school. Engage the services of your good friend Google and learn as much as you can about the TEFL school interviewing you.

This will boost your confidence as you will have information to base your questions on. The more information you have about the TEFL/ TESOL school, the better you can answer their questions. You will also be able to ask them sensible questions and decide for yourself if they are the ones you want to work with. An interview is a two-way thing. It’s also there for you to base your decision on. Remember you are a Trinity College CertTESOL trained teacher and as such the interviewer knows the star that you are! The more knowledge you gather, the better it would be to answer their questions. Go on their website, most of the information you will need will be on it. Go on their social media pages as well. This will give you a good idea of the kind of company you will be working for – their mission, values, the student profile, curriculum, extracurricular activities, co-curricular activities. By giving answers quoting your research as a reference puts you in a better position. It shows proactivity, initiative and resourcefulness. These are qualities that will prove your worth in any interview.

Be on time. Not late but neither too early.

It is a given that you cannot be late for an interview but showing up too early is also a big no-no! Give yourself between 15-20 minutes extra time to get to the interview. It is fine to be at reception 5-7 minutes before the specified time as this would give you time to complete any paperwork if any. Interviews are arranged at a specific time for a reason and you don’t want to look too desperate or a burden for the staff.

If the interview will be via Skype (as TEFL is a career that may want you to relocate), before committing to a specified time, make sure you check the time difference between the interviewer’s location and yours. Always confirm the time quoting their time and your time. I always do it this way. For example, I would write: “We can have the Skype call at: 09:00 Toronto, Canada time, 15:00 Madrid, Spain time. Canada has 6 times zones and Spain has 2. I will also not just write Canada or Spain. I always write the city and country. Do you know that there is a Madrid in Iowa, USA and a Toronto in New South Wales, Australia? Google them. The moral of the story – Always clearly confirm both your time zones when scheduling virtual interviews.

Dress for the job!

Dress for the job

How you dress is a very important part of who you are. When you interview for a TEFL job, you dress on the side of caution. Dress professionally, not necessarily a suit, but smart enough to be acceptable in an office. The dress code makes up an important part of your personality. Every school has its own dress attire depending on their company culture and rules. Avoid wearing revealing tops, short skirts, jeans, and other extra flamboyant outfits. Piercings, scruffy and unshaven facial hairs would also not help to create a great impression. Remember that your dress and personality will convey the message of what type of person you are.  Dress professionally, so that the recruiter may get an idea of your commitment to the job.

Same rules for virtual interviews or an interview done online. Dressing for the part will make you feel more confident and psychologically ready to speak with the TEFL interviewer. Don’t miss the chance of making them realize that it is a SERIOUS business for you! Your appearance is important, especially in a business English setting as you will be teaching professionals.

No Nos based on real experience

  • Jeans
  • Multi-coloured hair
  • Sneakers
  • Plunging necklines
  • Short skirts
  • Shorts (men and women)
  • Sandals, flip flops (designer, posh brands included)
  • Visible tattoos
  • Except for earrings – no other visible pierced body parts (At EBC TEFL we had a graduate named Greg. Greg couldn’t find a job and after 3 weeks of no success, he called us at EBC. We advised him “to take off the silverware!” Greg removed the silverware (piercing) and 1 week later he was working away!)
  • New age traveller clothing

Personality is the Key

Personality is the key

The HUMAN FACTOR. Teaching is a humanity and as the word implies, it’s all to do with humans. Teaching is a profession that requires lots of positive energy and devotion. Tell your interviewer how much you love this career, give examples of how it makes you happy to help students and how this experience has enriched your life. First, be very clear that your TEFL certificate (Trinity College CertTESOL) is considered as the most important professional certification to teach English in Spain or anywhere abroad. Do not underestimate the power of your Trinity College CertTESOL certificate that officially makes you a TEFL professional.

Ask yourself questions such as, “What will make me stand out from the rest of the candidates?”, “Why is this school the best fit for me?” If you can confidently answer questions like these, then you’re in for a winner. You should be able to explain why you are qualified and experienced enough to be given this job. Prove your reliability by telling the interviewer of your commitment to the profession. Speak to them about your reliability and readiness to meet the challenges of the profession like relocation, adapting to a new culture, learning a new language. If you do not have too much teaching experience, remember that your inexperience won’t be a problem for them if you are flexible to learn and progress towards betterment.

Share your problem-solving experiences, personal anecdotes 

In addition to your professional qualifications, the interviewer would want to have an idea of your personal side. They would want to hear about situations where you found solutions to problems, issues. They want to hear about learning, teaching strategies you introduced that brought in success – client satisfaction, higher enrolments, staff loyalty and much more. The DOS (Director of Studies) might give you a situational question and ask how you will act and respond to a possible future situation in the class. Answer the questions honestly and if you’re not sure of the right answer, I would refrain from bluffing. Interviewers can spot a bluffer a mile away. Use personal anecdotes to demonstrate your ability to find solutions or achieving success. The focus should be on the resulting outcome from your action. Such questions can be your opportunity to prove yourself as the best TEFL teacher by giving them a detailed account of your own practical experiences.

We have more useful tips for your job interview in the second part of this article. Come back in 2 days!

Jannik Blair, Australia

Jannik Blair, Australia

Read Jannik's story

The most important requisite of a successful TEFL job interview.

Apply for a TEFL course now and get custom advice during your course.