English as a Second Language Job Interview TipsAnticipating an upcoming interview can be a very stressful time. Whether you have numerous interviews lined up, or you have waited weeks for just one, it is important to remember that you have more to offer the world than the job you hold. Prepare, do your best, and reward yourself for the effort. If the job is truly meant for you, the next call will come.
Tip 1: Tailor your TacticsJust as a resume and cover letter should be targeted to a specific school, your interview persona should also be tailormade. Yes, being yourself is the most important thing. However, it pays to know exactly what the school is looking for. Does this school only hire young energetic foreigners? Are they looking for someone to fill in on-call? Find out exactly what this school is looking for, and do your best to prove that you are that person. (If you realize before the interview that you are not that person, politely call and cancel instead of wasting anyone's time.) The more you know about the school, its students, and its curriculum, the better prepared you will be to prove that your skills and personality match their needs. Before the interview, visit the website, talk to a teacher, or share a coffee with a group of students sitting on the stairs.
Tip 2: Express your EnthusiasmMany administrators of ESL schools admit that an enthusiastic and approachable personality is more important in a teacher than a strong understanding of grammar or a structured lesson plan. Some schools even prefer inexperienced teachers who are excited to begin a new career. Whether you are a seasoned teacher or a recent grad, one of the most important things you can demonstrate in an interview is that teaching is your passion. Provide examples of how you knew you wanted to teach from a young age, or how your students have enriched your life. Smile, speak positively, and use your body language to express your enthusiasm for the position. Keep in mind that if you're too over the top, no one will be fooled. Don't give them reason to question your sincerity.
Tip 3: Anticipate an AudienceIf possible, find out ahead of time who will be conducting the interview. You can always call the receptionist and ask how many copies of your resume to bring. Don't be surprised if a panel of three or more are waiting for you in an office or boardroom. Panel interviews are common in the ESL field. Teachers spend most of their working hours in a group environment. Panel style interviews help administrators envision how you will handle stress and random questions in the classroom. While you should maintain some eye contact with the person who asks the question, make an effort to show that you are addressing the group as a whole.
Knowing the name of those who interview you is crucial. As best-selling author, Dale Carnegie wrote, "Remember that a man's name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language." Address people by their names both when you enter ("Thank you for inviting me in, Maria") and when you leave ("I enjoyed speaking with you today Mr. Shu"). It won't hurt to introduce yourself to the receptionist, and learn his or her name as well.