02 September 2013 / by Radmila Gurkova

Back to School: Job search and interview techniques

Award Certificate

September for most is back to school. For ESL schools and teachers alike, September is a pivotal month of the year, in which the previous year is evaluated - staff, results and students alike - and in which new goals and objectives are set for the future.

For many ESL teachers, the summer months are a time of re-evaluation, when one makes the decision of whether or not to stay where they are or move on, especially if working in a foreign country.

Upon graduation of your TEFL course, certificate in hand, knowledge in mind, it's time to work on transmitting those skills to employers both on paper and in person.

1) On Paper: The CV 

  • Your CV is the single most important thing when searching for a job. It can take as little as 5 seconds for employers to form an opinion on a candidate when looking at their CV.

  • The most important thing on a CV without a doubt is your contact details. Make sure they are clearly displayed at the top so employers can immediately contact you.

  • A good CV is clear, straight to the point and well-formatted. Bullet points, a visually digestible font and numbers look professional.

Here is a useful TEFL CV article from The Guardian to help out:


2) In Person: The Job Interview

  • Make sure it's crystal clear in your mind why you are attending this interview and want this job as well as what you have to offer this organisation. 

  • Do your research! It's always a good idea to research the organisation you're applying for and familiarise yourself with it.

  • Be ready to have to discuss both your short term and long term career and life goals.

  • Prepare to discuss the reasons you left your previous jobs. Keep responses positive, and most importantly, honest. 

  •  Concentrate on the employers' needs rather than yours.

  • Avoid rambling or going off target, keep answers clear and focused.

Real Interview Question examples:

Q: How long have you been in Spain / intend to stay in Spain?

What it means: We want to know about your long term goals and objectives.

Q: Why do you think you make a good teacher?

What it means: We want you to stress not only your personal traits, but also education, transferable skills from previous experiences, desire to learn new methods. Above all stress the importance of preparation and commitment as well as adaptability.

Do's and Don'ts! 

DO: Be respectful and polite. You are applying for a job and the decision is in the employers' hands. Applying pressure, begging and even threatening will do nothing but put employers off. Talking over your employer or interrupting during the interview are big no-nos.

DON'T: Waste employers' time. This job might be everything to you and your questions and problems may seem paramount but having to respond to 'pre-interview' emails asking questions such as 'what should I wear?' is not going to put you in a good light in employers' eyes.

DO: ALWAYS be honest. Yes, it may seem like some things will put employers off, such as having other commitments. But nothing will frustrate employers more than finding out, for example, that you cannot work 3 days of the week because you have other commitments which were not expressed in the interview.

DON'T: Be presumptuous. Do your research but don't come in telling the employers how their organisation works. They run it, they know.

DO: Smile.

DON'T: Be too nervous. There are millions of language schools and academies, if you don't fit in here there will always be somewhere else, probably more suited to you.

DO: Ask employers to repeat. If there's something you don't understand, misheard or were confused by, just ask the employer to repeat the question. They won't be taken aback or offended. You then avoid an embarrassing response! Don't try to blame your confusion or lack of understanding on the employers' language. Again, be honest. You'll earn respect.

At OxbridgeTEFL, we are always happy to help our best graduates find work, either with us or with our associate schools. Have a look at our online TEFL community to see the work of some of the fantastic teachers who have come out of our training course here: http://www.oxbridgetefl.com/?p=teachers

Hope this helps and happy job-hunting!



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