10 Things you shouldn’t say in an interview for a TEFL job

Over the years, I’ve interviewed about 50 TEFL teachers. Some people walked through the door and I automatically knew they weren’t appropriate for the job: stinking of alcohol, 3 hours late with no explanation, tattoos all over their face when they were applying for an in-company position…..little things like that.

Other applicants seemed fairly normal and then made certain comments which made me think twice about employing them.


1. I don’t like teaching grammar. I like my students to chat and play lots of games

Does this comment suggest a professional approach to teaching?

2. My favourite coursebook. Well, that would be Face2Head, no, I mean Facehead, wait, I meant to say Faceway, Cutting Head, Cutting Face, New English Face, way, head…..

Does this teacher have a memory ravaged by heavy drug use  or alcohol abuse?

3. How would I describe myself as a teacher? I like to be their friend, go out to bars with them, maybe date some of the cute ones. Ha ha, only joking! I don’t do that much now.

This teacher clearly has an ulterior motive!

Did you just say that?

4. Well, I don’t want to stay in teaching very long. Is it a problem if I sometimes miss classes or arrive late? I have a lot of interviews to go to. Teaching English to foreigners is not a proper job, is it?
This teacher will disappear very soon.

5. I believe in correcting every single tiny mistake my students make. It’s the only way they learn.

This teacher is going to scare students off.

6. Sometimes, I tell my students to sit cross-legged on the floor and close their eyes. Then, I put on some Bach and read them some of my poetry.

For every student who loves this approach, 10 others will go straight to the Director of Studies and complain.

7. I prefer to teach Beginners. Higher- level students ask some really difficult questions.

This person has no idea about the difference between a noun and a verb.

8. I prefer to teach Advanced levels. Lower level classes are really boring!

This person has no patience.

9.Most days, I show my students a movie. For homework, I get them to write reviews of the films. Then on Friday, I get them to vote for their favourite and we watch it again.

Do the students do anything else? Practise speaking or learn grammar for example.

10. Well, I’ve taught students from lots of different countries. The (insert nationality here) were the worst – really lazy. And the (insert other nationality here) were just as bad, they just sit there, staring at me like cows in a field, really stupid people.

This person probably doesn’t like anybody who is from a different country to his or her own. 

Welcome to TEFL
Welcome to TEFL


  • Trained teachers who can actually remember what they did on the TEFL course
  • New teachers are fine if they show they are willing to learn and develop their skills
  • Friendly and enthusiastic personalities
  • Professional teachers who will be reliable and flexible
  • Teachers who actually respect their learners and consider their needs

 Have you said anything in an interview that you later regretted?