Attending an interview for a teaching job in the TEFL market is often a shock to graduates who have recently completed their TEFL certificate course. In many countries where the market is very buoyant, you can often wonder when the interview is going to start and they are already offering you hours.
This was certainly the case in Madrid a couple of years ago. There was such a need for English teachers that you would often get phone calls offering your jobs without actually attending an interview. Whilst this was great, it also meant it was hard to control the quality in the market.
Since the global economic crises, this has certainly changed. For teaching English in Madrid and most other European cities there is still an extremely high demand for English teachers (most getting jobs within a few days of the course) but the agencies, schools and academies can be much more selective than in the boom.
Given this, it has never been more important for those that have newly graduated from their TEFL course to impress at interviews. The majority of the norms that apply to interviews apply to teaching interviews, dressing well; being on time; being positive and confident etc etc. However, there are other points that will set you apart from the crowd.
On your TEFL course you will have completed a whole range of coursework and lesson plans. Take your best lesson plans with you and the materials you have created. Show the interviewer the type of lesson that you are capable of. Show them your needs analysis and level test that you have designed. On most modern courses now, you will have created an executed a telephone class. This is a boom area in teaching English so again, show them your material.
Make sure you use the terminology that you have been using on your TEFL course. Elicitation, modelling, CCQ, minimal teacher talk time and the many others that you will have become familiar with.
For example: “I find that when I teach beginner and elementary classes, it is really important that I keep my TTT low and model. I try to back up what I am saying with simple gestures that I keep consistent. I also keep this in mind when trying to elicit and I use the board to help the students understand what I am asking for”.
As with all interviews – be honest but give solutions to any problems you have had on your course. Many graduates are still afraid of grammar after their course, if this is the case with you, explain that you found grammar a struggle but you always prep and plan your classes ahead and will ensure you are up to date with the grammar structures you are teaching. It is about instilling confidence in the interviewer.
It is very common to be asked to do a short model class of about 15 minutes. You will normally be given a short amount of time to prepare this. Given this is likely, think about a few classes that you could teach. Don’t just focus on the 15 minutes of the teaching. Explain to them what your warmer would be and if you are following the PPP methodology (Presentation, Practice and Production) what they stages would be, then do the 15 minutes of the class.
Sometimes the interviewer will give you the topic. In my experience talking to my graduates, the main topics tend to be the comparison between the past simple and the present perfect, the present continuous and the conditionals. With a bit of prior preparation and planning, this ‘on the spot’ lesson planning activity need not be stressful and should be able to highlight your abilities.
Ensure you keep to the methods you have been taught with elicitation, modelling, CCQ etc. The interviewer will be looking out for these.
Find out about the school, academy or agency before you interview. Do they specialize in business classes, children’s classes, exam preparation or is it a combination of adults and children? Think about how your past experiences will help you teach these students. Have you done summer camp work, voluntary work, tutoring, have younger siblings, work experiences in a bank, lawyers etc?
Go in looking prepared and organized, it will give the right impression to the interviewer and will help you keep track of what is going on. The most important thing is a small diary. Unless you are working for a school, you will generally be required to move around from location to location. In Madrid you would normally use the metro, buses and trains. Writing down the locations, times and details of what you are being offered is essential. Get them to show you on the metro map where the job is and put a circle around it. Mark out the times in you diary or planner and the travel time needed to get to the class.
You will often get many interviews in the same day and may accept quite a few offers. By putting everything in your diary and checking the routes on your map, you won’t double book yourself or leave yourself short of time to get to the next class.
Finally, NEVER be late for a teaching interview, being punctual is a key ingredient to being a good teacher!