Living abroad, enjoying the beaches and clubs, while teaching the locals English, and earning a decent living each month doing so. Many native speakers live this dream, especially in Asian countries, though you will find native speakers teaching English in almost every corner of the world, including the poorest countries. Do you also pursue this dream?

If it is so, you will likely have to pass some exams and get a certificate (TEFL or CELTA), and you will have to pass an interview, typically online. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face, and what you should say to make the best possible impression on the hiring managers. Keep in mind that they observe your language skills all the time (even if you have a certification), so it is pivotal to speak clearly and without a strong accent, so they can understand you, and imagine your future students understanding you as well.


Why do you want to work as an English teacher?

If it is possible, try to focus on the value you want to bring to their school, institute, non-profit organization, or whatever form they have. Without a doubt, you have your plans, and things you want to gain and achieve teaching English, and you should mention them as well. In order to show the right attitude, however, you should focus primarily on things you can bring onboard as an excellent teacher.

For example, you can say that you are an amazing listener and have great interpersonal skills. You are good in explaining things to others, and have a knowledge of a variety of teaching methods. What is more, you want to make some positive difference in the lives of other people, and you are sure to have a positive impact on your students, helping them to learn English, and later on meet their goals, be it getting accepted to some university, succeeding in an interview, getting a job abroad, or simply being able to read any book they want, or watch any documentary they like, because they will finally understand the narrator.

You can also add that you enjoy teaching. At the end of the day, it is much better to so for a living something we enjoy doing, and you cannot imagine a better job than teaching English.

* May also interest you: 7 sample answers to “Why do you want to be a teacher?


Why do you want to teach in our institute/school/country?

It is important to do a good research about the place where you want to teach. If you want to go abroad, perhaps escaping bad weather or simply seeking new life, it is okay to say so, as long as you praise a couple of things about your destination. This obviously changes from one country to another, but you can talk about weather, living conditions, mentality of people, religion, or anything else.

If you travel to some third world country, you can say that you want to teach in a place where they need you the most, and that you see meaningful purpose in trying to help at least some locals to improve their living standards, and get a better chance in life.

If you apply for the job within your country, you should focus more on the educational institution. You may praise modern classrooms and teaching methods, great location, results they achieved with the students over the last years, some awards they won (if they won any), or anything else which caught your eye on their offer. At the end they should get an impression that they are your first choice.

What do you consider the most effective teaching methods when teaching our target group of students?

You have two good options at this point. One is saying that you prefer individual approach to each class, student, or even each lesson. As a skilled teacher, you can apply a variety of teaching methods, be it lecturing, inquiry-based learning, learning by playing, or the more “English oriented” teaching methods, such as the direct method, clt, audio lingual method, and other.

Understanding each student, their goals, skills, strengths and weaknesses, you will pick the most fitting teaching method in order to help them achieve their goal, and at least somehow enjoy the lessons.

Other option is trying to learn what methods they prefer in their school/organization/institute, and than cite them as your favorite English teaching methods. One way or another, you should show some flexibility. Stubbornly sticking with one teaching method only won’t help you succeed either in the interviews, or with your students.

* May also interest you: Can you tell us more about your teaching experience?


Tell us about a the most challenging situation you’ve experienced as a teacher so far.

This can be a variety of things, but you should pick a situation with a good outcome, which means one in which you actually managed to address the challenge.

Maybe you taught in a class where students lacked discipline completely. Or you were working with a student who simply wasn’t talented with languages, and you struggled to achieve any progress with them. Or maybe you had to use some unconventional teaching methods, because you taught in an unconventional classroom, and normal methods did not work.

Or you had a very short time to prepare one of your student for an important day–school leaving examination, language certification, job interview in English, etc. There are many options, and I am sure you have something on your mind by now. The key is to demonstrate that you did not give up, tried your best, and at least somehow succeeded in addressing the challenge.


Have you ever lived in another country before? How do you plan to cope with cultural and other differences?

You have a couple of options for a good answer. One is saying that you spent a lot of time deciding about the country where you want to live and teach English. You did your research, compared different places, marked down both pluses and minuses of each one, and eventually made your choice. Without a doubt there will be some surprises, and you will find some things difficult.

But you won’t be the only foreigner living in the country, you’ve already made some connections, and, judging by experience, you should not find the transition too hard to bear.

Another option is saying that you are actually seeking an escape. Maybe you are tired of your own country and people, or the weather, or anything else. Hence you are not afraid of cultural differences. On the contrary, you embrace them, because you cannot wait to leave your native country behind and try something new in life…


Other questions you may face while interviewing for a job of an English teacher

  • What do you consider your greatest strength and your biggest weakness when it comes to teaching?
  • How do you want to win the trust of your students, being a foreigner?
  • Tell us more about your previous experience with teaching, and about your certifications.
  • What is the one thing you will miss the most from your native country while teaching here?
  • How long do you want to have this job? Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
  • Tell us about a time when you struggled to communicate something to one of your students. How did you eventually get the message over?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
  • Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Many people want to teach in our country/institute. What can you offer us that others cannot?


Final thoughts, next steps

Interview for a job of an English Teacher belongs to easy job interviews. It is relatively easy to predict the questions you will face, and you can prepare for each on in advance. What is more, once you have an internationally-recognized certification, the hiring managers will have no reason to doubt your skills in teaching English.

On the other hand, if you apply for a job in a country where everyone wants to teach, or in some popular school or destination, you may compete with quite a few other people for the job. The stronger the competition, the more difficult it will be to stand out and succeed.

In any case, you should focus on things you can control. Your competitors (and their interviewing skills) do not belong to this group… Try to prepare for the questions, learn as much as you can about your future place of work, and show them that you have a clear vision of your near future, and an honest desire to make a positive difference in the life of their students. I wish you good luck!


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Glen Hughins
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