After browsing teaching English abroad programs and applying with Work and Live in China, you’ll hopefully receive an invitation for a job interview in China.
Thankfully, ESL teachers are always in demand, so don’t worry too much about this step.
However, you need to be prepared for the interview and the sort of questions you’ll need to answer.
Your skype interview will be the most important part of your job application process, and there are a number of things to consider before your interview to improve your chances of success, as you may be competing against other teachers for the same position.
Luckily, the anxiety you feel about the upcoming interview is usually worse than the actual interview.
Think of the interview as just a conversation between you and the program coordinator to make sure that it will be the right fit for both parties involved.
If you are a bit unsure about what sort of ESL interview questions you might be asked or what sort of questions can come up, then it’s appropriate that you learn a thing or two about some common questions that are asked during an interview to give you that added advantage.
From this article you will find out about the following:
- Research the company you are going to apply with.
- Smile, smile, smile 😀
- Setting up Skype
- How should you dress for the interview?
- Speak clearly
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Asking questions
- Does your social media page matter?
- Do you need to be excited during the call?
- How does the interview go?
- Do teaching demonstrations help?
Read on for our best advice and interview tips for teaching English in China.
So, first and foremost…
Try to find out what you can about the company you are looking to join, like watching video reviews, reading the blog, checking available cities and vacancies, etc. This could include:
- The age of students
- The type of curriculum the school follows
- Does the company have other locations?
- Does the company run extra-curricular events such as Halloween parties, Christmas parties, field trips, etc?
- Places of interest in the city or town (to show that you are not only interested in the job, but also the surrounding area)
If you know the ages of the students in the school you can research good approaches to teaching this age group, for example by…
- Reading online articles about English language teaching for this student target group
- Some common problems such as groups of students typically have
- Popular websites for worksheets, games, and activities
- Watching YouTube videos
- Classroom management articles and videos
This should go without saying.
It doesn’t really matter which country you’re from or interviewing in, a smile goes a very long way, but for a job interview in China, it’s particularly important.
You need to be aware that your face is what sells the school and that the parents of the students want a pleasant and outgoing teacher for their child.
Show your potential employer that you are not only a good teacher, but that you are happy to be a good teacher.
The vast majority of interviews are conducted via Skype.
It sounds obvious, but ensure that you log on at least 10 minutes before your interview, make sure your headphones and microphone are working the day before, and add your interviewer’s Skype ID well before your interview takes place.
You may need to ‘accept’ your interviewer’s contact request in order to become their contact.
Remember to sit in a well-lit place in order that your interviewer can see you properly.
Your webcam will also show your living or working space, so we suggest you make sure that the area is tidy!
Where possible, a plain background, such as a wall, is preferable.
Sometimes Skype will cut in and out, or it can be difficult to see or hear the person on the other side.
From time to time you may even need to stop the call and try again.
Try to be patient and flexible, 2 key assets required if you’re considering teaching English in China.
It’s a good idea to wear smart clothes, as the interviewer may require the video to be on.
This includes something on your bottom half, not just your pj’s!
Voice and pronunciation are more important than appearance while interviewing for a teaching position in China.
You should speak as clearly as possible so the school has a chance to gauge how your teaching voice will sound.
Some schools seek a specific accent, be sure to keep your accent neutral and understandable without using any slang.
By speaking too quickly during a job interview in China, the school will feel you can’t reach out to lower-level English speakers or that you can’t adapt your teaching styles to students with different needs.
This is a common question because it’s a great opener, gets the ball rolling, and it allows the respondent to open up and speak on his own terms without any hesitation.
Discuss strengths from previous experiences that relate to the position, such as management, leadership, and organization.
Don’t go in-depth about your weaknesses — just name a couple that you’re working on and how you’re working on them.
Work and Live in China is happy to provide you with an overview of your potential contract, however, there are some details we simply can’t provide.
Be sure to politely ask any questions to the interviewer about the student levels, how many students per class, if lesson plans are provided, etc.
By expressing interest in the city, school, and students during a job interview in China, the company knows you are serious about becoming a part of Chinese culture and being a successful English teacher in China.
Ensure that your social media presence is clean.
We can and do look up candidates online. We don’t just look at CVs.
It has come to an age where the purpose of social media is not just for entertainment, it is also your autobiography and a mirror of your life.
Every HR Manager and Recruiter is on the lookout for a perfect candidate.
After sifting through a great number of applicants, the ones who are left behind undergo background checks.
Make sure you don’t have things shared publicly that would ruin your chances of being selected.
You’re not interviewing for an office job staring at a computer screen all day.
You are interviewing to play with kids, impact the lives of teens who want to study abroad, and help adults build relationships with western businesses.
And you are actually going to change lives with this opportunity.
You’re setting yourself up for continuous travel, free time, money-saving, and fun career.
Let the recruiters know that you’re ready to take on this new and exciting challenge and that you can’t wait to be a part of their team!
Most skype interviews for an English teaching position in China are very different from the Western interview style you may be used to
They are usually short (20 minutes or less) and don’t tend to include too many probing questions such as ‘where do you see your career in 10 years?’.
Interviewers are also generally not looking to test you on grammar skills or trying to trip you up on the theoretical knowledge acquired via your TEFL certification.
Recruiters will be friendly, approachable and hoping you’ll tick all the boxes and really want to come to their school.
Your interviewer will also be focusing on getting a feel for what you might be like to actually work with for a year and whether you will get on well with the students and other staff members.
You might be asked ‘why are you interested in coming to work in China?’, or ‘What do you enjoy about teaching English?’, however you should aim to come across as a rounded, friendly and polite person who they can work with.
Be prepared to go over what you’ve listed on your application; even though the interviewer will have your CV, they may also want to hear about the details personally.
Your voice and pronunciation are really important.
You should speak as clearly as possible so the school has a chance to gauge how your teaching voice will sound; be sure to keep your accent neutral and understandable without using any slang.
By speaking too quickly, the interviewer may feel that you can’t reach out to students with lower English levels or that you cannot adapt your teaching styles to students with different needs.
Being confident is also vital.
If a recruiter feels you have a hard time expressing your confidence through a skype interview, how can they trust that you’ll be able to teach English in front of a group of students!
Finally, try to show your passion for teaching, and enthusiasm for the actual job – act as you want it!
Some of our partner schools will ask candidates to perform a demonstration lesson, or ‘demo’ as part of the interview process, often subsequent to a successful first interview.
The request may ask for a demo to be recorded and emailed to the school.
While this might be a daunting prospect, it’s not something to be feared, but a chance to show off what you know!
It will be an opportunity for you to show a potential employer that you are the right person for the job.
The school is unlikely to be looking for a perfect teacher as much as they are looking for someone who is friendly and outgoing, smiles and is able to structure a good lesson.
When you are requested to give a demo lesson, you should consider for whom the lesson is intended, their English level, the intended topic and the length of the time of the lesson.
Within reason, you can often determine most of these things; most of our partner schools give very limited guidance, in order that you can fully show off your creativity and ability.
Some questions to consider:
– What level will the students be? Arguably the most important question; ideally the mini-demo should be pitched at the right level.
– What kind of lesson should I prepare? Many schools will be very vague, so our suggestion is just to teach something that you enjoy!
– How long should it be? You want your demo to be polished and interesting while showing your professionalism and a hint of personality. A video that’s five minutes or less is ideal—it’s really not necessary to deliver a full lesson.
It’s all about confidence & genuine motivation
After you’ve prepared for these ESL job interview questions and practiced a couple of times with someone, then the most important attribute is your ability to show your confidence and convey your message.
The interviewer can quickly tell if you’re motivated for the ESL job when you respond well, ask good questions, and show interest.
If you can do these things effectively, then you are bound to be ace the interview and land the ESL job of your dreams!
Most important of all, don’t forget to make a good impression by smiling and being conversational.