Congratulations! You have taken some very important steps towards starting a very successful career as an ESL teacher in China. You have found the right recruitment agency which will help you find a post with some of the best schools in the market. Probably you will have your choice of jobs in no time, but all these wonderful feelings can vanish in a second if you don’t ask the right questions at the end of the interview.
During the interview you will be asked various questions that will assess your willingness and ability to teach, your character and your intentions to come to China and the answers to all those questions will give your future employer a clear idea of who they are hiring but there is a small part of the interview that new ESL recruits usually tend to ignore and that is their chance to ask questions.
Why is it necessary to ask questions at the end of an interview? There are two important reasons. First, this is your chance to ask, to remove any doubts, questions you may have. After all, you are taking a big step and moving to another country. Make sure you are making the best decision with all the information. Secondly, this is your chance to show your employer that you are committed to the job, if there is something an ESL recruiter does not want to hear is: I want to come to China to travel. Here are five questions that will help you impress your future employer and why you should ask them:
How would you describe the atmosphere in the teacher’s office?
This will give you a clue as to what kind of atmosphere you will be working in. Is it a relaxed and casual atmosphere or is it rather strict and formal? Listen to the answer attentively and start figuring out how you could thrive in such an atmosphere so you can provide a bit more information about yourself. For example, if your employer says that the working environment is rather casual while maintaining a level of professionalism and dedication then you could say how that is a great environment since professionalism is always your first rule. You also believe that a casual and relaxed atmosphere is more inviting and allows people to share ideas which are something you are looking forward to do as an ESL teacher.
Can you tell me a bit about my future students? What do they expect from their new teacher?
When you ask this question, you will be reassuring the interviewer about your intentions to come to China and teach. This question will help the person interviewing you understand how committed you are to the most important people in the school: the students. But this is a good question that will also provide you with a good idea of how well the manager you’re talking to knows the students which will be a reflection on the other teachers in the team, a good manager means a good team. Furthermore, this will help you adjust your expectations. Chinese kids are adorable and very smart but of course there is more to them than just that.
Can you describe for me what a week at work would be like?
This question is crucial as it will give you a clear idea what the workload is like. This question is merely for you, as the information provided will allow you to determine whether or not that’s the kind of workload you would like to pursue for at least a year. No two schools are exactly the same. Some schools have lessons off-campus; do you want to commute to different places? Some schools teach on Saturdays and Sundays while having days off during the week, is this is something you are willing to do? Some of these changes might seem small but these small details will become part of your day to day life when you come to China, so consider your options carefully and choose the school that’s right for you.
What do the teachers like to do in their free-time? Can you tell me a little bit about the expat community in your location?
Do your research about the place first, before you ask this question, mention something you know about the expat community in that location. It could be something along the lines of: I read online that a lot foreigners in Location X like to frequently go to a pub called “something” that sounds interesting…and then make a transition to the question so you can get more first-hand information. Some people like to come to China and experience cities with little to no expat communities while others would like to experience China with more comforts from home and people to share it with. Rest assured that working for an ESL school, there will be other expats there who will guide and help you enjoy your new city.
What are the next steps?
This simple question should always be the last question you ask; your interviewer is ready to answer this. If you ask this before the interviewer, it will show preparedness and pro-activeness, two qualities every teacher should have. Some schools are quick to make a decision while others will take their time. This will not only give you peace of mind and know what to expect, but it will also give an insight into how the management team works. If they can give you a clear answer, clear deadlines and they stick to them, then you are probably working with a good manager. If they tell you that it will take them some time and that they are not sure how long it will take them then, you are better off exploring other options.
These are very good questions you can ask at the end of your interview, you can test your interview skills and get interviewed by the excellent team at EF Shijiazhuang who is looking for talented and committed individuals to join their team.