Interview tips for ESL teaching jobs abroad

Looking for a new teaching job can be a full-time job in itself so once you have secured an interview with us, you will definitely want to make sure you are fully prepared and present yourself in the best possible light.

We have interviewed over 20,000 people for teaching jobs over the years and have a good idea of what schools are looking for in a candidate, the kind of questions asked in an interview and advice on what to avoid doing during the interview process.

This guide will provide plenty of interview tips for ESL teachers, which will help you structure your interview answers.

Before the job interview

Self-introduction video

Recording a self-introduction video will definitely increase your chances of being hired. It is your opportunity to really impress the school. Within 1-2 minutes, tell us about your education, work experience, hobbies, why you want to come to China and teach English. 

Click the button below to record your video

Skype interview with our recruiter

Getting ready for a Skype interview

Most interviews are done via Skype and are usually video calls so make sure you have tested your microphone and headphones, have a webcam ready and a fast internet connection.

With Skype, you can set your profile picture too so ensure you have a professional one for the interview.

Make sure you have added our recruiter's Skype ID well ahead of time. Often there will be a time difference between you and the recruiter so double check that you have the right time. It’s definitely worth finding a quiet, well-lit place for the interview.

Tips for the interview

Most interviews with schools will last from 45 – 90 minutes and usually start with some small talk. The interview will usually be split into three sections, beginning with the interviewer asking you questions, then moving on to telling you about the job and finally answering any questions you have.

Generally, the recruiter will be asking questions related to your previous teaching experience (or if you don’t have any yet, then about your work experience in general), your views on teaching, your hobbies and interests, education background, as well as questions not related to teaching such as how you work with a team and cultural sensitivity perhaps.

Interview Tips for ESL teaching jobs in China

Questions asked during an English teacher job interview

General questions

  • How old are you?
  • Where do you currently live?
  • Do you have a degree? 
  • Do you have TEFL?
  • Do you have any teaching experience?
  • What is your preferred location to teach English?
  • What is your expected salary?
  • Have you ever been to China?
  • When are you ready to start?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What are your goals in life?
  • How do you usually like spending your free time? 


Interview Tips for ESL teaching jobs abroad

Teaching-related questions (for experienced candidates)

  • Can you tell us more about your experience at (previous schools)?
  • What further training have you received? (workshops, seminars, etc)
  • How do you deal with difficult students?
  • Are there any specific areas of your teaching you have been working on?
  • How do you motivate students?
  • What coursebooks have you used? Any preferences?
  • What is a good activity you have used recently?
  • What kind of feedback have you got from observed lessons?
  • Talk me through a lesson that went well
  • How would you teach the present perfect?
  • What are your goals for the future for your teaching?
  • How do you teach large group sizes?
  • Have you used interactive whiteboards before?
  • How do you feel about having an “English only” rule in the classrooms?
  • Language schools often use the ‘communicative approach’, what do you understand by that?
  • What are the main differences in the approach needed to teach young learners versus adults?
  • What are the main roles of a teacher?
  • What are the keys to effective learning?
  • What classroom management techniques do you use to ensure your classes run smoothly?
  • What makes a good lesson plan?

Ideal qualities the school is looking for in a candidate

Don’t expect the interview to be overly formal, we will be looking to get to know you and find out whether you would be a good fit at the school.

The kind of qualities we will be looking for is, of course, genuine enthusiasm and passion for the job and plenty of energy especially if the job is for teaching young learners.

Be clear about your reasons for wanting to live and teach abroad and make sure you can show that you will be able to cope with the challenges.

Reliability and professionalism are important as is the ability to be flexible, open-minded and culturally aware.

Teach English in China

The chance for you to ask questions in the interview

Emma, our ESL teacher from USA

About the job and school

  • Can you describe for me what a week at work would be like?
  • What are the teaching resources like?
  • How many classes are taught per week?
  • How would you describe the atmosphere in the teacher’s office?
  • Can you tell me a bit about my future students? What do they expect from their new teacher?
  • How long are the classes and how many students in each class?
  • Are teaching assistants available?
  • What’s the technology like? Does your school have interactive whiteboards?
  • How much flexibility are teachers given on how they teach?
  • Are there any off-site classes or are they all taught in the school?

About the teacher’s accommodation

  • Is accommodation provided?
  • Is it furnished?
  • Am I responsible for paying the bills?
  • Will I be sharing with another teacher?
  • Do I have the option of getting my own housing?
  • How far is it from the school?

You might also want to ask about flight allowances, bonuses, appraisals, training, admin duties, promotion opportunities and the visa application process.

Teachers get free accommodation in China
Amazing city view in China

About the city

  • What do the teachers like to do in their free time?
  • Can you tell me a little bit about the ex-pat community in your location?
  • What is the population?
  • Are there sports facilities/gym/supermarket near the school?
  • What kind of entertainment is there?
  • What are my options for learning Chinese?
  • What is the cost of living?
  • Are there any products not available that I should bring with me?

After the job interview

After the interview, you can expect to hear from us with a final result within 3 working days.

The school may well be talking to a few other candidates but usually like to get a job offer out quickly to candidates they want to hire. A job offer and contract will be sent via email and sometimes you will be given a deadline on when they expect an answer.

For teachers who are looking to develop their careers in education, there are plenty of options for progression. From the teacher, the next step is a senior teacher where you assist new teachers and get involved with some school management tasks.

Then Director Studies which involves managing the academic side of the school, teacher training, scheduling, recruitment of new teachers. There are also positions for developing curriculum and course materials and teacher training. Many career teachers enjoy living in different countries and experiencing different cultures throughout their careers.

Begin the adventure

Once a job has been offered and accepted the school will begin the visa application process, which can take between 3 to 6 weeks.

Once the visa is in your passport, the adventure begins and you can book your flight ticket.

So for the ESL job interview, remember to be well prepared and relaxed.

It is a chance for you to really show why you are the right person for the job, let your personality shine through and ask plenty of questions.

If all goes well you will have a handful of offers and be in the position to pick and choose the very best job.

Apply below and we will find you the best teaching job

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