The dreaded job interview – you’re trying to appear confident and professional whilst your heart is beating like a sledgehammer.
And why wouldn’t it be?
The outcome of the interview could have a major impact on your life.
Accepting the right job is one of the most important decisions that you’ll ever make.
In this blog, I provide 10 questions that you might want to ask at a TEFL interview, particularly for teaching in China.
1. What subjects will I be teaching?
Don’t assume that just because your training is in TEFL, that you’ll be teaching English.
In China, foreign teachers can be asked to teach anything. So, you need to assess whether or not you can teach what the school wants you to.
SEE ALSO: THE 8 BEST QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE GOING TO CHINA
2. How old are the students?
Sometimes this will be obvious depending on the type of school.
However, if your job is at a training center, you could be teaching anyone from young children to old people.
The skills required to teach each age group are different.
3. How many students are there in a class?
Class sizes in China are large in the public sector. Even a class of 40 would be considered normal!
Obviously, the smaller the class, the better it will be for learning and classroom management in China.
4. How many foreign teachers does your school have?
When you’re in a place where you don’t know many people, loneliness can be a problem.
The ability to create and maintain a social life is important.
Find out if there are other foreign teachers at the school.
You may have a better social life at a school with several foreign teachers and where there are some English-speaking locals.
5. What support is there for a foreign teacher at your school?
As a teacher in a new school, you’ll have to adapt to a new working culture and may need help with things like resources, accommodation or students.
It’s therefore a good idea to find out what support is available and who to contact for each type of issue.
6. What’s the accommodation like?
Public schools in China will provide an apartment, but the quality can vary.
Some teachers’ apartments in China are bigger and more comfortable than others and some schools may house you in one campus but require you to teach in another.
Ask to see some photos of the teachers’ apartments.
An international high school in China (teachers’ apartment tower at the rear).
If you teach in the private sector, an apartment generally won't be included but you may receive a stipend to go towards it.
When you arrive in China, your school will help you find a suitable apartment.
7. Questions about the contract
Most schools in China have a standard teaching contract and this will be fairly straightforward.
Most schools will pay the costs of the medical checkup that is required.
However, some may require you to pay first and get reimbursed later. There may be limits to how much they will pay as well.
Some schools may require you to contribute towards the cost of utilities in your apartment, some salary figures are gross and others are net, and so on.
These are just some of the questions that you may need to ask about the contract.
SEE ALSO: ADVICE FOR YOUR TEACH IN CHINA CONTRACT
8. Is your university or college a public or private one?
If you’re a professional teacher and take your work seriously, this is a very important question.
That’s because there’s a vast difference between the classroom culture at private and public universities in China.
Students at public universities are generally hardworking, well-behaved and come to class regularly.
It's worth finding out about the kind of school you'll be teaching at.
On the other hand, students at private colleges tend to be rich kids who have failed their final high school exams. They think that money can buy success so many of them won’t even bother coming to class at all.
SEE ALSO: THE 10 DO'S AND DON'TS OF TEACHING IN CHINA
9. What are the teaching arrangements like?
At some universities in China, you get to see each of your classes every week.
This can provide you with a lot of job satisfaction as you watch your students progress.
At other universities, you may have up to 1,200 students and you will only get to see each class twice in a semester.
At such places, your role would simply be to ‘expose’ your students to English rather than to properly teach.
10. Can you put me in touch with one of your foreign teachers?
The school that has offered you a job will naturally want to present themselves in the best possible light.
Therefore, a good way to find out what a school is really like is to ask someone who is currently teaching there or taught there recently.
Some questions to ask the foreign teacher include:
- What are the students like?
- What is your impression of the school?
- Do you get paid on time?
- What’s the social life like?
If you follow the advice in this blog, you can greatly increase your chances of choosing a school that is right for you.
And, working with a reputable recruiter (like Hello Teacher!) can help you tremendously.
What has your experience been like at TEFL interviews? Have you asked the right questions? Please comment below.
I've also written an article about the differences between TEFL and CELTA courses. I think you'll benefit from it!