7 Questions to Ask at Your Next TEFL Interview
So you’ve made it through the application process and have a TEFL interview scheduled! Well done! Now what? Now to get through the interview and show the potential employer what you’re made of!
A lot of TEFL interviews these days will be conducted online. But you may also have a face-to-face one depending on where you are. Some countries still prefer to recruit face-to-face. If you are already in the city where you are applying to work, it makes sense for the employer to meet you in person. You can also see the place where you are hoping to start working. Allowing you to see if it’s a good fit for you.
In any TEFL interview, it’s good to ask questions so that you are more informed about the role. Not only is it good for you to clarify any doubts you have about the job, but it also shows the employer that you are serious about the interview. When you leave the room, you want to be fully informed about what the job entails and its conditions, so you can also make a decision if you were to be offered the position.
Here are some key questions that you should not be afraid to ask at your next TEFL interview:
Are the hours guaranteed?
Whether the job you are applying for is in the classroom or online, this is important to ask. You need to know how many hours you will be teaching and whether this is something that you can rely on every week. In some positions, it’s possible that your hours will fluctuate. This is especially true for online jobs. While this may work if you are looking for something flexible, if you want a steady, reliable income, this is the first thing to ask. Don’t get caught out down the line when you’re not working as many hours as you’d hoped.
If you have a TEFL interview for a classroom teaching position, it’s also worth asking about the guaranteed hours and whether this will change during the term. Related to this, you might want to ask if the pay will remain the same, no matter how many hours you teach. It’s important to be informed about the conditions. If a class is cancelled or the students don’t turn up, will you still be paid? Many schools guarantee the same salary no matter what but there are some that will deduct your monthly pay if you didn’t actually teach the class.
What is the monthly salary?
Some people are cautious about asking about money during a TEFL interview as they don’t want to come across as being too money greedy. However, this is important to clarify so that you don’t waste any of your time or the employers. If the salary is not for you, then it’s better to know this as soon as possible. Sometimes the salary is not mentioned in the advert, so don’t feel bad about confirming this with the employer.
Be sure to clarify whether the number they give you will be the gross pay (before taxes) or net pay (after taxes). Sometimes job adverts might advertise gross pay. You don’t want to get a nasty surprise at the end of the month when you receive your net pay and it’s lower than what you expected. By that time, you will have already signed a contract, and disputing this will be more hassle than you need.
Another thing to ask about is how and when you will be paid. Again, this is something you don’t want to wait until you have been working for a month to find out. It’s best to get this information upfront so you can plan your finances. It might not occur to you to ask how you are paid, especially if you are from a country where this is always a simple payment into your bank account. However, there are countries that might pay some wages (or partially) in cash, so it’s wise to clarify this in the interview.
If you are nervous about asking questions regarding pay, then you can always send off an email after the interview (not before). What’s important is that you know exactly how much you will take home, and how and when you will get paid!
What other responsibilities are expected of me besides teaching classes?
This is a crucial question. All too often, we might assume that a teaching job is simply the time we spend in the classroom teaching. However, there are many other duties involved that might be part of your contract to fulfill. These might include planning, meetings, training, and even pastoral duties, depending on where you work. This really should be included in the job advert but always ask. You need a comprehensive outline of what the job entails.
Except for online teaching, there are rarely jobs where your work is just the hours in the classroom. Many jobs involve extra hours with other responsibilities. You should also ask what hours the working week involves. Teaching time is known as “contact time” so you can ask how many hours are “contact” hours and how many hours are you expected to be present and doing other things. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that 20 hours of contact time is the end of the job!
What are you expected to teach in the classes and what resources are available to help you do this?
As you will have learned from your TEFL course, some schools follow a coursebook in their classes, which makes the planning straightforward. However, there are some schools that don’t use a coursebook at all, giving the teachers more freedom to plan the lessons.
This is also important to know because it will indicate how much planning you need to do. If you follow a coursebook, you still need to plan but this will be minimal. Otherwise, you may need to spend more time sourcing other resources to use in the classroom, and adapting them for your learners’. Check if there is a coursebook used, you might want to ask how much you need to stick to this, or if there is any freedom to move away from it when necessary.
Once you find out what you are expected to teach in the classes, it’s a good idea to ask what resources the school has for you to be able to do this. Will you get your own copy of a coursebook? Are there grammar books available for you to use too? If you have to plan the lessons without a coursebook, what materials are there for you? This also applies to online teaching where, often, a shared resource file might be available for you to consult.
What ages and levels will you be teaching?
Most TEFL teachers have a preference of which level and which age group they teach. If you apply to work in a language school, there might be all types of classes. This might also include General English, Exam Preparation classes, and Business English. The advert you will have replied to will probably list all of the possible classes that the company or school is looking to cater for.
Once in the interview, you should ask exactly what classes they have in mind for you. You might be given a more specific age range to play to your strengths. For example, if you have experience with young learners and like teaching this group, you might want to see if you can specialize in this group. The school might give you a variety of classes or not be able to confirm until you start. If you ask about this in the interview, then they might be able to give you an idea of what your timetable will be like, and you can decide whether this is suitable for you or not.
Other questions you may want to ask at your TEFL interview
is there any online/ hybrid teaching (if applying for classroom jobs)?
Many schools now continuing with this option. It is better to know upfront if you will also have to teach online or teach in a hybrid way. (teaching in the classroom with some students also online following the class at the same time).
What holidays are there and are they paid?
This is another one that some people are shy about asking, along with salary. However, it is important that you know how much holiday time there is, and more importantly, whether this is paid. It is not uncommon in language schools in Europe to not pay holiday pay over Christmas, Easter, etc. This is a big thing to factor into your decision and your budget!
Are there any professional development opportunities?
As a TEFL teacher, it is important to continue improving. Stay up to date with new teaching practices and ideas. Ideally, your school should provide some continuous professional development. This might be in the form of regular meetings and training. But could also be in the form of attending conferences etc. This is good for your TEFL career but it does also add to your workload and timetable. So knowing this upfront is better than finding out a few weeks after starting.
Remember that these sorts of questions are completely normal and wise to ask before you start a job. It is always better to be informed than find out later when you have signed a contract and have less freedom to change. If you feel nervous about asking about some information in your TEFL interview. You can always email the interviewer or school after to clarify some details. It’s also not a bad idea to get some details in writing! Knowing this information will help you decide if the position is right for you!