What are Job Interviews Like?

Can you give me some tips?  What about telephone interviews?

ESL interviews for English teaching jobs in China are like interviews for just about any other type of job, except they aren’t!

Particularly if you are a beginning teacher, don’t expect trick grammar questions or really difficult questions of any sort.

Usually, the employer or recruiter is just trying to get a feel if you are a friendly and pleasant person.  These issues are important to the employer, who is typically a business person running a school where it would be nice if the customers (students) like their teachers enough to keep signing up for more classes and earning him/her a profit.  Even in a university setting the issues are pretty much the same.

Professional Interviews

It would be unusual to have what you might consider a really professional interview like you might in a Western country.  I’ve had precisely two in twenty years. And I used to interview a lot as I liked to “fish” for jobs and often applied for something if it sounded interesting to me even if I didn’t have any interest in taking it.

The notions, mentioned above, of friendliness and pleasantness, are generally what interviewers are looking for.  If you are applying for a job that requires some experience or training, then you might expect a simple grammar question or a question about your teaching philosophy, teaching methods or how to deal with a discipline problem.  Of course, think about these things before the interview.

The Usual Interview

A typical interview almost doesn’t exist.  So really, you probably can’t do much to prepare, except to put yourself in a good mood, smile a lot, dress appropriately (if it is an “in-person” interview) – and go for it.

Odd Questions

Most teachers, at one time or another, have been asked such oddities as, “Do you like Chinese food?” or “How do you feel about hitting your students?”  Answer honestly.  You might as well hit the issues before you get there!  Be realistic though and avoid too much brutal frankness, which is a Western idea – not an Eastern one.

Speak Clearly

One thing almost all interviews are looking for, is your ability to speak clearly and understandably.  Do that purposefully during the interview.  Don’t try to “WoW” them with your use of the language.  You are probably already light years ahead of their English language skills anyway and they know that. That’s why they want and need a native speaker teacher.  But they do want to know that you can communicate well with their students.

Telephone Interviews

These type interviews are fairly common, for obvious reasons.  Try to speak clearly and slow down a bit as some connections won’t be good.  Be polite if you can’t understand what is being asked (which will sometimes be the case!).

The Role of the Teacher in Chinese Society

Teachers in Eastern cultures are much more respected than in Western cultures.  Do try to live up to the standards that will be culturally imposed on you.  Even if you aren’t much older than your students and you see them behaving in ways you might enjoy – overdoing it out at the bars and nightclubs for example – know that a TEACHER has a strong standard applied to them.  If you really want to “party hearty” – head on over to the next town . . .

It’s okay and maybe even a good idea to tell an interviewer that you enjoy teaching, enjoy students, and have a strong interest in their success.  And, I hope you do!

Try to avoid this: