TEFL job interview questions you should ask

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

The advice and list of TEFL job interview questions are from our TEFL course job seminars. These TEFL job interview questions have grown over the years. They come from our experience interviewing candidates and feedback from our EBC course graduates from 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 professional, outgoing personality who looks presentable. They can be even more demanding than language schools. If you are teaching private classes to children, you should meet the parents first.

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

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TEFL job interview questions – teaching questions

What type of age range and social groups will I teach?

The age range and social groups that schools want you to teach will vary from one school to another. If you get hired to teach a specific set of students, you should know what type of students you will teach.

Where are the classes, and how much travel is involved?

Ask about travel time, distance and location. Travelling takes time and costs money. Imagine that you have to travel for an hour, teach for one hour and then take another hour to get to your next class. You got paid for an hour but used 3 hours of your time. Excessive travel is a problem. Ask the school to give you more English classes to teach in the same area. If they cannot, the job is not worth accepting.

What is the class size?

Classes with more than ten students 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, ask if you can speak to the previous teacher. When the previous teacher is no longer around, ask where the class finished in the syllabus. You need to ensure that you do not repeat work or plan lessons that do not match the class skill level.

Do you or the student(s) provide all the learning material (books, photocopies, etc.)?

If you are told by the school that you have to pay for textbooks and photocopies, forget the job. Textbooks are expensive. You should only provide material at your own cost if you want to.

Is there a syllabus to follow? If there is, what is it?

Expect to be given a syllabus. K to 18 schools will expect you to follow a syllabus. Private language schools may or may not give you a syllabus. It depends on their teaching methods. You may also find that you teach using a textbook. Most quality textbooks have a “How to use the book” guide at the beginning. The “How to use the book” section is a rudimentary syllabus showing the author’s recommended use of the textbook.

Do you also teach Business English classes?

Any language school has the possibility of offering Business English classes. Tell the interview if you do or do not want to teach Business English. 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).

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TEFL job interview questions – logistics questions

What is your class cancellation policy?

Most companies have a 24-hour cancellation policy. Classes cancelled with at least 24 hours’ notice usually get rescheduled. If classes get cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice, you should get paid. 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 timesheet or attendance sheet?

Always get signed attendance sheets. The client will win every argument about attendance if you do not have proof of attendance. The result is that you will not get paid. If you turn up for an empty class, find someone who can sign your timesheet (or any other documentation) that proves you showed up and the students did not. Failing to get a signature means that you risk not being paid.

When and how do you pay me?

Payment frequency depends on the country where you work. When you get paid, you may need a bank account. Most schools pay by bank transfer. However, cash payment is not unheard of.

Do you group students by skill level?

You may have problems with mixed-ability classes because they progress slowly. If the expectation is that all students improve their English, you may run into difficulties.

How do you handle taxes and social security?

Depending on the country where you work, you will either get hired on-the-books or off-the-books. Getting paid on-the-books means the school must register all withholding against your tax/social security number, so you’ll need to get one. If you are hired off-the-books, the school should NOT withhold anything.

Will I have to make multiple daily visits to the same place?

If there is a chance of more than one visit to the same class location on the same day, ask whether the teaching hours can run concurrently so that you only have to go there once.

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