TEFL job interview questions you should ask

TEFL job interview questions and advice for EBC graduates and anyone else interested in interviewing for an English teaching job abroad.

The advice and list of TEFL job interview questions is taken from our TEFL course job seminars. The TEFL job interview questions have been built up over the years based on our own experience interviewing candidates and EBC course graduate feedback from the TEFL job interviews they have attended.

Ask and answer the TEFL job interview questions with confidence.

Be dynamic and SMARTLY DRESSED. Most language schools want a teacher with a professional, outgoing personality who looks presentable. If you are teaching private classes to children, you’ll have to meet the parents first and they can be even more demanding than language schools.

The following is a check-list of TEFL job interview questions that you should ask when you go for your interview.

TEFL job interview questions – teaching questions

  • What type of age range and social groups will I teach to? You’ll find that the age range and social groups that schools will expect you to teach to vary on a school-by-school basis. If you are hired to teach a specific set of students, for example: you are hired to teach primary school children aged 5 to 11, you’ll know beforehand what type of students you’ll have to teach. If not, you’ll have to find out at the interview.
  • Where are the classes and how much travel is involved? This is important from a purely financial point of view if you are working freelance for several language schools. Imagine that you have to travel for an hour, teach for one hour and then take yet another hour to get to your next class. You just got paid for one hour’s work but took up 3 hours of your time. In these cases, ask if more hours can be added. If not, it’s usually not worth accepting the class.
  • How big are the classes? Big classes (10+) are hard to teach unless they are in a state school (K to 18).
  • Am I taking over an existing class? If the answer is yes, then also ask, “May I speak to the previous teacher?” If the previous teacher is no longer around, ask about where the class had got to. You need to know this in order to avoid repeating work that has already been done or planning a class that is beyond your students current skill level.
  • Do you or the student(s) provide all the learning material (books, photocopies, etc.)? It’s important that you know this because if you are told that you have to pay for text books and photocopies, then forget the job. Text books are usually quite expensive. You should only provide material at your own cost if you REALLY want to.
  • Is there a syllabus to follow, if so what is it? Having to follow a syllabus is always a possibility. It depends on the school that hires you. If it’s a K to 18 school, then there’s a very good chance that you’ll be expected to follow a syllabus. If it’s a private language school, it depends on the school’s teaching methods. You may also find that you will teach using a text book. Most quality text books have a “how to use the book” guide at the beginning. This is a rudimentary syllabus showing the author’s recommended way to use the book.
  • Do you also teach Business English classes? Any language school has the possibility of offering Business English classes. If your preference is to teach Business English or you do NOT want to teach Business English, then make it clear from the start so that you don’t waste your time. Please note that many language schools incorrectly classify Business English as teaching English in a business environment. The correct classification of Business English is a subset of ESP (English for Specific Purposes).

TEFL job interview questions – logistics questions

  • What is your class cancellation policy? Most companies have a 24 hour cancellation policy. If the class is cancelled at least 24 hours before its scheduled time, it gets rescheduled. If the class is cancelled less than 24 hours, you usually get paid and the class is billed to the client even though it wasn’t given. The last thing you need is to suffer because your student(s) didn’t show up for class.
  • Do I have to turn in a time-sheet/attendance sheet? If the school insists that you get the client to sign time sheets – DO IT . If you don’t and there is a dispute, the client will win and you will not get paid. If you turn up for a class and the students don’t, find someone who can sign your time-sheet (or any other documentation) that prove you showed up and the students didn’t. If you don’t, you run the risk of not being paid.
  • How and how often will I get paid? Payment frequency depends on the country you work in. When you are paid you may need a bank account as payment is often done by bank transfer or cheque. Cash payment is not unheard of but cheques and transfers are much more common payment methods.
  • Are the classes arranged by level? If they aren’t, you may have problems because mixed ability classes progress slowly, if it all. If the students are expected to improve, you may run into difficulties.
  • How do you handle taxes and social security? Depending on the country that you work in, you’ll either get hired on-the-books or off-the-books. If you are hired on-the-books, the school will need to register the withholding against your tax/social security number so you’ll need to get one. If you’re hired off-the-books, the school should NOT withhold.
  • Will I have to make multiple daily visits to the same place? If there is a chance of multiple visits to the same place on the same day, ask whether the teaching hours can run concurrently so that you only have to go there once.

If you have any other important questions that you ask that are not on our list of TEFL job interview questions, let us know.

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