Posted on June 17, 2019 | By Isabelle Sudron
27th Nov 2018
You’ve worked hard to get TEFL qualified and make spotless job applications – go you! Now it’s time for the final hurdle: the interview. There’s no reason to fear though, simply avoid these faux pas and you’re sure to fly through this stage of the recruitment process.
#1 “I just really want to live in [insert country here]”
The likeliness is that if you’re looking for work overseas, you’re probably interested in travelling and seeing new places. However, that’s not a good excuse to apply for a teaching job. Employers may be pleased to hear that you’re excited about the country you’ll be working in as well as learning more about the local culture, but they’re much more interested in hearing about your passion for the job in hand.
#2 “I’m really nervous about teaching.”
It may be your very first time teaching but that doesn’t mean you can vent about how terrified you are in your interview. You need to project enough confidence that the employer will truly believe you can stand in front of a class and teach!
#3 “What perks does this job have?”
Some TEFL jobs do come with lots of perks but that doesn’t make it alright to ask about them in your interview. When asking questions about the job, focus on the responsibilities and expectations rather than the gym membership or bonuses!
#4 “Um, er, um, er…”
Although lots of ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ are not ideal in any interview situation, they’re a particularly no-no for teachers. Being an English teacher involves speaking confidently and clearly at all times. You’ll need to enunciate your words, avoid dithering and project your voice to the back of the class. So, any sign that you’re not a clear speaker will not go down well in a TEFL interview.
#5 “I don’t really like kids/adults/etc.”
If you’re asked why you applied for a specific job, it’s a good idea to draw attention to the elements of the job that you liked rather than the parts of other jobs that you’re avoiding. For example, if you’re applying for a job teaching Business English to adults, don’t say you applied to the job because you don’t want to work with children. Instead, tell the interviewer why you enjoy working with adults and why you look forward to teaching Business English.
You won’t be surprised to hear that swearing is to be avoided in any interview. However, in a TEFL interview, you should pay particular attention to avoiding even the mildest of swear words. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, you could be working with young learners and employers will not want anyone who swears in front of their young students. Secondly, you’re being hired to teach vocabulary – employers will want to know you won’t be teaching their students how to cuss. And thirdly, swearing is not very professional in any situation!
#7 “I hated my last career.”
As TEFL teaching is such a unique job, most people starting out in the industry come from an entirely different career path. But that doesn’t mean that it’s alright to moan about how terrible your last job was. It’s a good idea to stay positive about your previous jobs as this will give the impression that you’ll have a positive outlook on your new job in teaching too!
#8 “I haven’t taught before but…”
Even if you’re brand new to the teaching world, you should be careful about pointing out your lack of experience. No matter how little experience you have, employers will still want to know that you’ve gone out of your way to teach in some form or other.
So, rather than starting answers by trying to justify your lack of teaching experience, try to focus on the experience you do have. This could be mentioning some casual mentoring you may have done or tutoring a friend.
#9 “I don’t know the answer to that, but I can research it!”
Since you’ll be teaching English, your interviewer may ask you questions about grammar to test out your knowledge. You won’t be expected to know everything, but you should be able to confidently explain some of the basics. So, make sure you revise before your interview – there’s no other way around these kinds of questions!
#10 “Nope, I don’t have any questions for you.”
At the end of your interview, you’ll often be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer. This is a great opportunity for you to show your interest in the company and what they do. If you have any specific questions that show you’ve done your research on the company or that you genuinely care about the work they do, now’s the time to ask them! Not asking any questions can give the employer the impression that you don’t care about the position or that you’re not interested in the company. Consider asking questions like “What does an average day look like here?” or “What responsibilities will I have outside of the classroom?”
If you enjoyed our tops tips on what NOT to say in an interview, we recommend checking out our blog: How to make a good impression with TEFL employers when job hunting.