LIVE WEBINAR: How to Prepare for your TEFL Interview

Are you hunting for a TEFL job abroad or online? Would you like practical tips to help you prepare for your TEFL interview? You’re in the right place! South African TEFL teacher Rosland hosted a live webinar on i-to-i’s Facebook page, covering everything from where to look for TEFL jobs to how to prepare for a demo lesson. Watch the full webinar or read on for edited extracts.


Where can I find TEFL jobs?

The main way to find out about TEFL jobs is to look on TEFL jobs boards. The two jobs boards I use are LoveTEFL Jobs which is hosted by i-to-i, and Dave’s ESL Café. Alternatively, you can go onto Google and search for online teaching jobs or teaching jobs in a certain country.

There are also quite a few Facebook groups for TEFL teachers. They post job vacancies as well as details of companies that are currently looking for teachers either online or abroad. If you’re doing your TEFL course with i-to-i, they’ll also give you support with looking for jobs.

Don’t just rely on one sort of application for a company. If I find a company on a jobs board, I will apply through that platform but I will also see if they have an online application on their own website or if they have an email address that I can send my application to. I also will go onto LinkedIn and reach out to someone who works for that company. Spread your application forms like wildfire. If there are five different ways of applying, make sure you do all five. That will increase the opportunity of the employer actually seeing your application.


What should I include in my TEFL job application?

Once you’ve found a teaching post, you’ll generally need to fill out an online form and upload your CV, a profile picture, introduction video and TEFL certificate. If you’re applying for a job to teach overseas, you’ll also need to provide a copy of your passport and references.

For your profile picture, use a plain background if you’re applying to teach adults or a plain/child-friendly background if you want to teach kids. Wear formal or semi-formal clothing, smile and look presentable and approachable in your picture.

I highly recommend that you highlight your TEFL certificate, any teaching experience and skills that are necessary for teaching, such as good communication, presentation, time management, organisational or people management skills. If you don’t have teaching experience, pick on the things that you’ve done in the past. It doesn’t need to be strict teaching experience – communicating with people on a daily basis, working with teams and being organised are all skills that are beneficial for a teaching job. For example, I said that I used to babysit and that I managed teams of about 20 people.

If you’re applying for online teaching jobs, it’s important to also add a section for teaching equipment. This should include the type of laptop or computer you have and your WiFi capabilities. Also state that you have a headset and a quiet, well-lit area for teaching online. If you’re applying to teach abroad, add in the documentation you already have, such as your passport and police clearance certificate.


What should I include in my introduction video?

Most companies require an introduction video, both for online TEFL jobs and for teaching overseas, so they can see a bit of your personality and hear what you sound like. Make sure you record your video in a well-lit area, wear formal work attire and have a child-friendly background if you’re applying for online teaching jobs or a plain background for overseas jobs.

In the introduction video, you generally need to give your name, your age, where you are from, how long you’ve been teaching, the qualifications you have and a little bit about you. As an example, I might say:

“Hello, my name is Rosland. I am 26 years old and I am from South Africa. I have two degrees. The first degree I have is a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications and the second degree I have is an honours degree in strategic brand communications.

“I also have my Level 5 TEFL Diploma, which allows me to teach online. It also allows me to teach English to kids overseas as well as Business English to adults. I have one year and three months of online teaching experience and I have taught both for an online teaching company and for a company that is based in China. I have experience of teaching both materials that has been prepared for me, teaching one-to-one classes and teaching shorter classes. I also have experience in creating my own lesson material, teaching classes of about 15 kids and teaching classes that are about an hour long.

“A little bit more about me: I enjoy hiking and gardening. I hope to hear from you soon. You can contact from me via…” and then you would give your contact details.


How will China’s new regulations affect job applications?

China has implemented a new regulation that restricts afterschool English teaching platforms. As far as I’m aware, the reason that the Chinese government has given is to reduce how many extra classes Chinese children are being pushed to do.

As a result of this, quite a few online Chinese companies are not recruiting as many people and some are actually closing down. However, although China has the biggest number of online TEFL jobs, it’s not the only country that does online teaching. You can definitely apply to other countries for jobs or start teaching adults to work around this new regulation.



How should I prepare for my TEFL job interview?

To prepare for your TEFL job interview, research the company and find out about the country where it’s based – it will impress the interviewer if you know a bit about their country and culture. Also, look at the terms and conditions – how much do they pay per hour, what are the classes are like, is it one-to-one or group lessons – and prepare for interview questions as well as any questions you might have for the company.

If it’s a while since you did your TEFL course review the course material. For example, when I applied for my job to teach overseas, they asked me about my teaching style. I was just finishing my TEFL Diploma so I could talk about the different teaching styles they cover in the course and say that the teaching style I like to implement is PPP.

If it’s an online interview, test your equipment so you can fix any issues before your interview. I called a friend to check my mic was working, check they could see me well and check that I could share my screen if I needed to. You also need to prepare a background for an online interview. Make sure you have a ‘Welcome’ sign, your name written clearly and some child-friendly posters, so they can see that you’re well prepared for teaching.

Finally, think about what to wear. You should wear suitable work attire, such as a blouse/shirt or a plain t-shirt with a blazer. Try to keep away from things that will distract your interviewer, such as a lot of prints.



What is the structure of a TEFL interview?

Most interviews are held on an online platform like Skype or Zoom. You will quickly introduce yourself and then the interviewer will ask you to give a longer introduction, such as your age, where you’re from, where you live, what qualifications you have, if you have a TEFL certificate and if you have any prior teaching experience.

The interviewer will then ask you questions about yourself and your CV. For example, if you’ve said you’ve had previous teaching experience, they might ask you what that was like and the hours you taught. After you’ve gone over the interview questions, the interviewer will generally give you an overview of the position. If you’ve got any questions, that is the time to ask them.

If it’s an interview for teaching online, you’ll then be required to do your demo lesson. Depending on the company, this will either be straight after the formal interview or they’ll ask you to schedule the demo interview for another date.


What questions will I be asked in my TEFL job interview?

In your TEFL interview, you could be asked questions such as what your teaching style is, how you’d deal with a child that’s misbehaving in your class, how you’d respond to a situation where your equipment doesn’t work, how you prepare lesson material and what your expected salary is.

If I’m asked about my teaching style, I normally say that I like the PPP method but I have a very fluid teaching style and see what my class responds to be best. I also say I use a lot of props and teaching aids to better convey the teaching material. That is a pretty good answer to give but, if you use other teaching styles, you can elaborate on those during the interview.

If you’re asked about responding to a misbehaving child, you could say that you would reinforce the rules that you went over at the beginning of the class, such as sit nicely, keep quiet and listen well, and then try to get the child to reinforce those rules. If it’s a post for teaching abroad, you could say that you would pull the child aside to handle the situation or, if the child is still misbehaving, you would escalate the situation to someone more senior.

What you expect for your salary is a big question that’s frequently asked. Have a number in mind and try to stick to it. They may try to get you to agree to something that’s lower than what they offered in the job post. Try not to accept a lower offer in the interview. Instead, tell them what you want to receive and then continue with the interview. They then can come back to you afterwards with what they’re willing to offer.


What questions should I ask in a TEFL interview?

If you’re applying for an online TEFL position, ask how long the classes are, what the minimum hours are per week, what the hourly rate is and how they will pay you. Generally, there will be a minimum number of hours that you’re required to teach each week, and lessons can last 30 minutes, 45 minutes or sometimes an hour, so it’s important to know the details upfront.

If you’re applying to teach overseas, ask questions such as whether you’ll need to pay for your flights there, who covers the costs for documentation (such as your visa, work permit, police clearance, health clearance certificates) and if accommodation is included in your salary or if you’ll be given a stipend for accommodation.



What is a demo lesson?

A demo lesson is a mock lesson, where you have to teach the interviewer lesson material. The demo lesson is there for the interviewer to see how you teach, what your teaching styles are and if you tick the necessary boxes for teaching. It’s mainly required for online teaching, although you will sometimes be asked to do one for teaching abroad.

The company will usually tell you what they want you to teach and send you the lesson material, such as vocabulary and sentence structure. You’ll then need to make some props and a background.

For online interviews, you’ll normally be asked to do a demo lesson on the day of your interview. If your initial job application is successful, they’ll usually send you an email with all the necessary information and ask when you’d like to schedule your interview. Try to schedule it for a few days after the email was sent to give you enough time to prepare.

If you’re applying for a job to teach overseas, you’ll normally have a formal interview first and then they might ask you to do a demo video and send it off to them. On rare occasions, a company might ask you to send a demo interview as part of your application process.


How can I prepare for my demo lesson?

In your demo lesson, the interviewer wants to see that you can change your teaching style, that you have props to facilitate the necessary vocabulary and sentence structures, that you know how to use TPR and that you correct the pronunciation and sentence structure.

To prepare for your demo lesson, create a suitable background and props, such as flashcards, teddy bears, pictures or even a small whiteboard if you have one. I highly recommend practising your demo lesson with a friend and definitely checking the time – if the company tells you they want a two-minute demo lesson, make sure it’s two minutes.

As an example, for a demo lesson, I might start by asking, ‘How are you today? Are you excited? Are you happy or are you sad?’ and hold up props for the kids to choose how they’re feeling. Next, I’d introduce the vocabulary before moving onto the sentence structure. I’d try to get the child to say the vocabulary three times but change it up – for example, say it softly or repeat the first sound or say it soft to loud. I also would have a reward system, such as stars that they can collect throughout the lesson.



To prepare for your TEFL job interview, research the company, make a list of your questions and be prepared for the questions that the interviewer may ask. If they require you to do a demo lesson, prepare well for it, have quite a few props and brush up on your TPR skills.



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