How To Prepare For An Esl Job Interview

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Preparation for an ESL job interview is a process. There are certain steps that you need to take before, during, and after the interview to maximize your potential for acceptance.

  1. You need to make a plan that displays your talents and experience in the best light possible and you need to have a predefined and practised explanation of any lack of experience or dismissal.
  2. Remember that you never do yourself any harm by practising with someone else. Get a colleague to act as the hiring person and practice interview questions and responses.
  3. Prepare a list of questions that you plan to ask that highlight your interest in the position, shows that you have researched the location and school, and displays your accomplishments. Regardless of the country or culture, manners and accomplishments win in interviews.


First of all, calm down. Do not be flip, but understand that you may not be the person selected. There are other fish in the sea and other employers.

A face to face interview and a Skype interview have several things in common.

  1. You need to dress the part for both types of interview. Your research of the school should have given you an idea about their style and dress code but business attire is best even if you appear a bit over dressed compared to the interviewer.
  2. Have all of your paperwork prepared and in order. You need a few copies of your C.V. for a face to face interview. A Skype interview may require an email.
  3. Have a copy of any training certifications, your university diploma, and any recommendations from previous employers ready to present if and only if you are asked for them. You want to have a prepared set of questions to ask your potential new employer as well.
  4. For Skype interviews you must remember the Skype code. You also may have to plan on a different time frame than the country you are in so getting up early or staying up late may be necessary.
  5. Smile. A simple smile is an encouragement for people to be more accepting and more open. That is just how people are. You may want to do some research on acceptable manners and greetings if you are interviewing for a job in a different country. If you already know the language, then use a standard respectful greeting. The idea is to show respect and acknowledge who is in charge.
  6. Do not let yourself be fooled into thinking you are not in charge of the interview. Control can be taken from you only if you allow it to be.
  7. Expect to be interviewed by a number of people or a group of people. Watch the group dynamic. You will quickly see who the hiring decision maker is by the deference people pay to them. Plan your answers to questions and your physical position to make as much direct contact with the decision maker as possible.
  8. Do not ask about pay unless the interviewer opens the discussion. This is really stupid but it is absolutely true. It does not matter what country you are in, people want to know that you want to really do the work. Money should be a secondary consideration.
  9. If you are asked direct questions and you have written work, awards, recommendations, or any material prepared by a third party use that evidence as part of your answer. This not only adds credibility to your answer it shows you are accomplished.


Answer all questions in terms of what you have accomplished either in teaching or in training. Be direct and to the point but not short. Do not make long elaborate speeches.

Why do you want to teach at our institution?

My research shows you have one of the broadest curricula that prepare students for further study in countries they may be required to use English in. Your graduates are at the top of many well-known companies and I want to be a part of training tomorrow’s leaders.

How do you motivate students?

I show them specific examples of the advantages that knowing English can bring to them in further education and the prospects for a better job.

Why did you leave your last position?

If you were fired say so. They already know or they would not be asking. If you were terminated due to lack of education tell the interviewer that you have retrained to compensate for that lack.

Do you have experience with this teaching method?

If yes then say yes. If no then say I can rapidly attain the needed level of skill based on my past learning and teaching experience. Don’t lie because they can test you.

Write a short and to the point letter to the decision maker that you identified during the interview asking what the next step is, how long will you need to wait for the next step, and reiterating your qualifications and accomplishments based on what was discussed in the interview. Use formal style and formal address in the letter and insure the title of the decision maker is included.

A letter is preferable to an email because hand written letters are seldom overlooked like email can be. The letter also shows your level of interest and sets you apart from people that do not simply ask for the next step or ask for the job.

If you are not selected for the job, then look at where you may have erred in the process. Call the person that turned you down and ask them why they did not pick you. If you get a truthful answer then you can add that to the weapons in your arsenal needed for the next interview.

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