7 Tips for Success in Teach Abroad Interviews

Please see our current job postings for Taiwan and China here.

Teacher Leia has come full circle with BGL, years ago interviewing for our first foreign teacher positions and now conducting those interviews herself.  This journey puts her in a unique position to offer advice to others seeking the same experience.  See her post 5 Tips for Teacher’s Abroad and her interview tips below.

Being the interviewer is, not surprisingly, way more fun than being the interviewee. However, it can also be more challenging.  I need to communicate an accurate portrayal of the teach abroad experience that excites without misleading.  I also need to glean from a brief (often online) conversation enough information to formulate an accurate opinion of the candidate, all the while keeping the conversation flowing naturally.  But there are things that you, the teaching candidate, can do to make my job easier.  Here are some tips from the other side of the table:

1 – Own your experience.

Don’t talk about what you’ve seen other people do; tell me what you’ve done or will do in the future.  Understand that even though you’ll be teaching abroad, children are children everywhere.  Your experience is the most relevant part of your application, and discussing it can help you to show the interviewer where your skills and talents lie.

2 – Speak coherently and specifically about classroom management.

Anybody who has set foot in a classroom knows the importance of setting up rules and routines. Without this, even the most creative, intelligent teacher with the best lesson plans and ideas will crash and burn.  And, while you can discuss philosophy here, make sure that you support that with concrete examples, actions, and plans. Give enough details that your interviewer can clearly picture how your class is run.

3 – Communicate a sense of humor.

Living abroad is hard and lonely at times. If you can find the lightness in a situation you’ll show that you are able to roll with the punches.

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Teacher Leia conducting an interview over Google Hangout. Click through to see the animated gif.

4 – Show your personality.

A big part of teaching is being personable. If you show comfort and enthusiasm in an interview it is assumed you will do so in the classroom.

5 – Show that you are curious.  

The more curious you are about the the school and the experiences of the interviewer, the more likely you’ll appear ready to approach the daily education that is teaching and living abroad. 

6 – Show that you are diplomatic.

No matter how open and interested you are in the culture, differences will arise.  Show that not only can you deal with this, but you thrive when learning about other cultures.  You can do this if you are able to separate people from their actions, seek out to understand others’ perspectives and goals, and understand that sometimes neither your way nor the highway are acceptable options. 

7 – Don’t be afraid to talk about your failures.

Any good teacher is also a lifelong learner, and having an occasional lesson flop is just part of the game.  Only by reflecting on these strikeouts can we truly grow.  If you discuss this in an interview then you’ve shown that not only are you good, you will get better.  But, like the answer to the quintessential interview question “What are your weaknesses?” you need to toe the line between confidence, humility and reality.  Framing your weaknesses as stories about growth – rather than just presenting a positive trait in disguise – can help to strike this balance.

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