Interviewing for ESL teaching positions in China may be a daunting task for the vast majority of foreigners, especially for new-comers, Although similarities exist between western style interviews and Chinese style interviews, it is important to note that little differences may make or break interview success. On the other hand, it’s well known that China always has a high demand for ESL teachers due to the fast growth of the ESL industry and rapid expansion of training centers, as well as the countries drive for internationalization. However, it doesn’t mean that as a native, you can secure the position effortlessly as recruiters always want the best suited candidates, especially for good teaching positions. To better equip yourself and increase the chance of being employed, read through the following tips and note the small details.
Type of interview
There are three types of interviews: face to face, Skype and phone call. Phone call is rare, only happens if both face to face interview and Skype interview is not doable at the time and the school still wants the teacher usually if he or she is in the country already. Skype interviews are for overseas candidates or currently living in a city far away from the location of recruiter. Finally, face to face interviews are arranged if the candidate is living close to the school.
Prepare for the interview
If you’re preparing for a Skype interview, make sure that your internet connection is great for video chat. Turn on the light in your room and go somewhere with sufficient natural light so employers can see your face clearly. The place also has to be quiet enough to hear your voice loud and clear without any possible and abrupt interruption. Test your mic or earphone on your computer or laptop before the interview (Best to call a friend to confirm it's all good). Remember to confirm the time zone of interview time with your employer as well and also set an alarm at the right time zone as soon as you have a confirmed interview to avoid forgetting. Double check the interviewee’s Skype ID and keep your mobile phone ready in case they would cancel the interview and notify you via the phone.
For face to face interviews, don’t forget to take careful care of your appearance. You’re expected to look clean, tidy and positive. Clothes with several holes and broken shoes may leave a bad impression to interviewee. Fancy accessories are not a good choice either. If you have tattoos on your body, you should make every effort to hide it, this is a teaching job remember! For teaching business or adult English, you should wear more formal clothing in order to show your professionalism, while you should wear slightly more casual clothing to present that you would be liked by younger children for kindergarten or primary school teaching jobs. Last but not least, practice a self introduction and simulate the demo class yourself if you are required to conduct one.
During the interview
Depending on the school, you will probably encounter a Chinese interviewer, you may have a fellow expat interviewer in some of the larger education centers though. The interview often lasts 40 minutes to an hour or perhaps longer depending on the content of the interview and the position you're applying for, and you will probably be required to do a short demo class. Usually the topic of the interview focuses on your background, teaching experience, teaching skills, teaching materials you are using or about to use, classroom or student management, dealing with accidents and unexpected events etc. Sometimes you may hear questions such as teamwork with Chinese staff, opinions about Chinese culture, or even political issues (they don’t want you to talk about this to their students).
All in all, remember to always show the best part of you. Do not be shy or too aggressive. Try your best to show that you’re open minded, flexible and active. Don’t be afraid to ask questions relating to the position when you are allowed to ask, but your questions should be appropriate, remember if it's questions about the living and lifestyle, location or recreation you should save these questions for after the interview when you have time to research online or e-mail a couple of general questions to the employer after they have accepted and offered a contract to you.
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