If you don’t ask any questions at an interview for a TEFL job, you may regret not doing so…
You have an interview for an English language teaching position. You think you’ve made a good impression on your interviewer and then hear the words:
And do you have any questions for me?
I’ve interviewed lots of teachers and I’m always surprised by how few of them have prepared questions. The most common response is:
Oh yeah, I wanted to ask you something but I can’t remember what it was.
Asking a potential employer questions is not always essential in an interview – it could just mean the interviewer has covered everything you need to know – but it does indicate that you take your job seriously.
Also, asking these questions at the interview can prevent problems and misunderstandings later on.
So, my advice would be to prepare a list of questions and bring them with you to the interview.
Here are some of the questions you may want to ask.
How many hours per week are you expected to teach? Is that likely to change?
Will you be paid extra if you teach more than this fixed number of hours?
If so, how will you be paid? Cash in hand?
What non-teaching tasks are you required to do? (administration, creating materials, marking, placement testing of students). Will this extra work be included in your salary? Is it compulsory?
How many days of paid holiday are offered? (and does this include public holidays?)
Is there a probationary period during which either party can terminate the contract?
If you want to leave, how much notice are you expected to give?
What is your salary? When and how is it paid?
Is the salary net or gross?
Does the school have a fixed salary or is there a progressive salary structure (performance-related pay, length of service)?
Make sure you get your contract checked by a local expert before signing anything!!
Lessons, Learners, and Resources
What is the teaching philosophy / approach at the school?
Which course books does the school use?
Do the learners have to buy course books?
Are you expected to follow the course book?
Are you allowed / expected / encouraged to use / create your own materials?
What additional materials and resources are available? Access to online materials? Resource library?
What are the classrooms like? Make sure you have a look.
Does the school have internet access? Projectors? Multi-media?
Are teachers expected to use interactive/digital whiteboards? What training is given?
Does the school have a photocopier you can use? I’ve worked in a few places without a photocopier!
How many different classes will you have to prepare for? Find out about levels, ages, types of classes (General English, Exam preparation classes, Business English, One-to-One classes? Skype classes. Off-site classes.
If you are expected to teach off-site classes, does the school pay extra for travel costs? What about the extra time needed to travel to the off-site premises?
How big are the classes (maximum number of students) and what age groups will you be teaching?
What is the procedure for dealing with complaints from learners?
Are there any rules for learners? Lateness? Code of conduct? Absenteeism?
Are teachers given a written job description?
Does the school have an employee policy handbook or some document detailing the company’s goals, policies and core principles?
Who should you talk to for teaching support, advice and problem resolution? Is there a Director of Studies? Senior teacher? Teacher mentor programme?
Are there regular observations? Could you observe any classes?
Is there a staff-room for teachers to prepare in? Ask to have a look and speak to any teachers if possible.
Does the school offer any in-house training? Teaching workshops?
Do teachers attend any external professional development training? Conferences? Local workshops? Does the school pay in full, in part, or are teachers expected to pay for their own CPD?
Is the school a member of any professional organisations?
How long do teachers generally stay at the school?
Are there any professional development opportunities within the school? Could you train to become an examiner? Teach other classes? Get involved in professional development or mentoring?
There are plenty of other questions you could ask at your TEFL interview so make sure you consider your local teaching context and cultural norms. In some cases, such direct questions won’t be appreciated or will be considered inappropriate so think about how you could phrase them without causing offence.