1. Show your passion, not just your qualifications
“Even if you don’t have a TEFL certificate yet, make sure you will be ready to show your passion and dedication for teaching, do some research online and prepare yourself for the interview, after all, you’re applying for a teaching position.” –Marco, Director of Studies – EF English First Shijiazhuang
For candidates who have no teaching experience or haven’t undergone any teaching certification classes, you can focus on your desire to get the job and show the interviewer the energy you are willing to put when and your willingness to learn.
For those who’ve taught in the past, don’t just rely on the fact that you have years of experience on your resume and expect the school to beg you to work for them. Your previous experience may or may not be relevant to the current position you are applying for. Each school also has a different system and you may be required to adapt to the school’s style of teaching. During the interview, you may mention what you have learned in your previous school and how you think you could apply them in the new school’s system. However, it is also important to keep an open mind and let the interviewer know that you still have room to grow and learn new skills.
2. Be as professional as you can possibly be
“Approach the recruitment process with the same professionalism that you would in your home country. This might sound obvious, but a huge amount of people slip up here. There are so many schools that will hire any qualified English speaker that a lot of people allow their standards to slip. If you want to work for a credible business then present yourself in a credible way.” – Andy Navias – Co-Founder at International Futures and Cambridge English Online
“Be as professional as you possibly can be” – Greg Jackson, General Director of Studies, EF English First, Jiaxing, Xiaoshan, Shaoxing, China
Your behavior, attitude and etiquette all play an important role in the how you are perceive during the recruitment process. There is nothing wrong with being relaxed and cool when you are around friends or family but in a professional setting, your manners are more important than the knot on your tie. This doesn’t apply only to the interviews, your email replies also create an impression so make sure to use correct and formal English, be polite, respond in a timely fashion and communicate frequently.
3. Identify the kind of teacher that you are!
“Identify the kind of teacher that you are. Are you looking for a career in teaching or just looking to teach while you travel? Have a clear rationale and communicate your expectations openly.” Greg Jackson, General Director of Studies, EF English First, Jiaxing, Xiaoshan, Shaoxing, China
Why do you really want to teach English in China? For those who are taking the time off to travel and are only thinking of teaching to make money to support themselves during the trip, there is nothing wrong with that. But keep in mind that there are some people who take this job seriously and when they consider you to be a part of their team, they would also expect you to do the same. You can be honest about your purpose but at the same time,demonstrate to the interviewer that you can be relied on to do a good job teaching.
“Decide in advance what age groups you are interested in teaching and whether you will be able to teach them.” – Luna – HR Manager, EF English First, Tianjin
Some candidates may already know which age group they want to teach from the beginning of their application. Be prepared to answer questions specific to that age group in terms of classroom management and suitable activities for example. However for those who are open to any age group or haven’t decided yet, you may take a look at these tips from a former Director of Studies:
4. Do your homework – Research!
“Research the company that you are hoping to work for. In my experience, very few people do this. Most people think that an English teacher is an English teacher, but at IF we have extremely specific requirements from our staff. We believe in teaching business IN English, as opposed to teaching business English. This is quite a subtle difference, but when I interview somebody and they have clearly spent time on our website and thought about how they can use their skills and experience to work well in this environment I am always impressed.” -– Andy Navias – Co-Founder at International Futures and Cambridge English Online
“Obviously it is wise to read up about the company and find out all you can about their schools, teaching methods, course material, requirements and any other details you can. Not only does it show initiative and that you are genuinely interested in the job you are interviewing for but having a good understanding of the company allows you to make a more informed decision on whether that particular school is right for you.
If you are planning on flying halfway across the world to teach somewhere for a year, you want to make sure it’s with a school you will enjoy being at.”Jim Althans – Founder at Gold Star TEFL Recruitment
“Do your research about the school and its location. Understand the position and job before the interview and ask questions.”Luna – HR Manager, EF English First, Tianjin
“Be concise and don’t make everything about you, I have, I did, I….
It’s ok to mention things other people have done that you have learned from.” – Gareth Evans – Regional Operations Specalist, EF English First, China
They’ve said it all. Here’s more from Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Directors of Studies and hiring managers know when the cover letter you sent is the same as all the other cover letters you’ve sent to the other jobs you’ve applied for. They can also tell if you come to an interview with little to no preparation. If you want an edge over other applicants, impress your interviewer with knowledge of the company and their system.
5. Your social media page is an extension of your resume
“Ensure that your social media presence is clean. We can and do look up candidates online. We don’t just look at CVs.”- Greg Jackson, General Director of Studies, EF English First, Jiaxing, Xiaoshan, Shaoxing, China
It has come to an age where the purpose of social media is not just for entertainment, it is also your autobiography and a mirror of your life. Every HR Manager and Director of Studies is on the lookout for the perfect candidate. After sifting through a great number of applicants, the ones who are left behind undergo background checks. Make sure you don’t have things shared publicly that would ruin your chances of being selected.
On our next article, Directors of Studies and hiring managers will share more about the common mistakes that candidates commit during the application process. We want to make sure that you get every opportunity to find the best job for you. If you have any unique experience during your application process and want to help applicants in the future, please leave a comment.