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How to Prepare for an English Teacher Interview

Like all job interviews, TESOL interviews require some time and preparation to ensure you put your best self forward. Based on my experience as an ESL teacher in Ecuador and Toronto, I can speak first hand about what to do and what NOT to do before an interview for an English teaching job.

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1. Don’t Make Assumptions!

I assumed that I would probably not be tested on the spot and be asked to prepare a lesson plan. I was wrong! I had to create a grammar lesson plan and explain different grammar topics on the spot. Make sure you know your grammar and your lesson planning formats!

As new teachers, we may know the language intuitively, however, we need to be able to explain it logically and clearly. Be sure to review some basic grammar concepts from OnTESOL’s course or from a grammar textbook at least one night before the interview.

As a new teacher, I am discovering that many students struggle with prepositions, gerunds, and infinitives, and the perfect tenses, so those are great structures to review beforehand.

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2. Prep!

There are many ways to prep for an interview. In the case of grammar explanations, I find it really helpful to have flashcards on hand. This way I’m not carrying around a thick notebook that I have to shuffle through. They are so easy to flip through and the notes can be written in shorthand that you understand. I personally like highlighting keywords and definitions to help jog my memory. Flashcards are generally a great thing for any new teacher to have on hand, at any time.

It’s also a smart idea to plan a brief lesson plan using the PPP format, ESA, TBL, or whatever format the school uses. It’s likely you will be asked to take 15 minutes on the spot to prepare a lesson plan. It’s best to research the school’s methodology ahead of time, even if it means sending an e-mail to the Director of Studies or staff person who will be interviewing you. This shows that you are taking the initiative to be inquisitive and curious and that you are committed to the role.

3. Know Your Style

You will most likely be asked what kind of teacher you are, so spend some time before the interview reflecting on your style. If you’re not sure, reflect on the variety of different learning styles and how you might teach a class with many different types of learners.

Also think about such questions as: how consistent and reliable are you in providing support to your students? What does it mean to be an engaged teacher?

4. Know your Preferences

What’s your favorite Communicative Approach or Task-based Learning activity? Know your favorite activities and be prepared to explain why they are your favorite.

5. Know the School

Do some research ahead of time not only to find out the methodology but to understand a little more about the school’s philosophy. Many schools use technology in the classroom or write their own books, so learn what’s behind their choice of books and materials. They often advertise this on their website to attract students.

6. Take Care!

It is so important to know your self-care rituals before presenting yourself to a prospective employer. Before any job interview, make sure to get a good night’s sleep, stay hydrated, and eat a solid meal. Nothing is worse than feeling groggy or having a rumbling tummy while trying to give your all!

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