Now that we’ve covered what to prepare for beforehand, it’s time to look at some of the key points to consider during your interview.

Speak Clearly

It’s common for people to start speaking more quickly when they’re nervous. While this might not be too much of an issue when interviewing for other jobs, it could be a real hindrance when applying for ESL positions.

First, ESL recruiters will be looking for teachers who have clear pronunciation, so that their students have a good chance at understanding what’s being taught in their lessons. If you speak too fast during the interview, or mumble, the recruiters could be deterred from hiring you.

Second, these recruiters will most likely be non-native speakers. If you speak too quickly, use complicated language or regional slang, your interviewer might struggle to understand what’s being said. If they can’t understand you, then things could soon get awkward.

You shouldn’t exaggerate your speech too drastically, but just remember to speak clearly, at a reasonable pace, and without using any slang. As a rule of thumb, try imagining you’re on the phone to an elderly relative.

Ask Questions

Keep in mind that this is your chance to ask questions as well. In many regions, you’ll find that there are a lot of ESL jobs available and not enough applicants.

This means that the interviews are usually more give and take than you’ll experience with normal job interviews at home. You will be interviewing the school and the company as much as they will be interviewing you.

Some suggested questions are as follows:

  • What does a normal teaching schedule look like?
    Work hours and expectations vary widely across different countries. This question can mean the difference between a reasonable schedule, and sitting at a school for three hours waiting to teach your next class.
  • Will I have a teaching assistant with me who speaks the local language?
    Teaching assistants can be incredibly helpful, particularly when you’re just starting out, or if you have younger students with low English abilities.
  • How many office hours are expected outside of teaching hours?
    Most schools will require you to teach for a certain number of hours and be in the office doing other tasks for an additional period of time. 
  • Are teachers required to do extracurricular activities?
    This means school trips, extra classes for special days and additional responsibilities. Make sure this is clearly written down in your contract.

Be Sensitive to Culture

If you’re interviewing online or in person, it’s likely that you’ll be speaking with someone from a different culture. This means that they may have different expectations regarding etiquette and behavior. Here are some tips which work well across different regions:

  • Be ready for the interview at least 5 minutes early, and no more than 15. If you arrive 30 minutes early they’ll likely still be doing other things.
  • Remain polite and strike a balance between formal and informal language (“Hello Frank” or  “Hello Mr. Chang” rather than “Hello Sir/Mam”)
  • Dress for the occasion – even if you’re on Skype. If you’re applying for a position in a more conservative region, this might involve dressing more modestly. Shirts or well-pressed polos are usually acceptable, but a suit and tie could be a little overdressed.

Final Thoughts

ESL interviews don’t have to be intimidating.

Prepare for possible questions beforehand, and laugh it off if you stumble in the interview. The interviewer is probably looking for people who can adapt to any situation, so if you show you can recover from mistakes, it will impress them rather than put them off.

Most of all, have a list of questions for them as well. This is your chance to find out everything you can about the position and the city. The more information you have, the better the chance of finding a job that suits you.


In the next module, we’re going to look at another aspect of the interview process – giving demonstration class. After you master this final part of the process you should be all ready to start applying for jobs.

Back to: ESL Employment Training (Free Preview) > Interviews