Here are 12 of the most common questions you’ll be asked during your Skype teaching interview.
You probably won’t be asked every question during the initial interview, but knowing them (in advance) will give you a huge edge over your teacher competition… and move you one step closer to landing your ESL dream job.
12 ESL Interview Questions (with sample responses)
1. Why did you choose (country name)?
Suggested response: Don’t just say, “the money is good or I get free housing, or it’s the best place to save and pay off my student loan.” Talk about your affinity for the country, the food, the culture, the language. Perhaps you have a friend already living there who has said great things about it.
2. Why did you choose (country) over other Asian countries?
Suggested response: Avoid choosing political or religious regions for picking one country to teach in over another. Expand more on your response to question #1 here.
3. What is your teaching philosophy?
Suggested response: “I encourage a fun and open learning environment where students are never afraid to make mistakes or ask questions. I would use positive reinforcement when correcting their English mistakes, always.”
4. If you heard your co-teacher making an English mistake during class what would you do?
Suggested response: “I would wait until the class was over to inform the teacher of her mistake to avoid embarrassing him or her and would broach the topic calmly and positively with the teacher.”
5. How would you deal with a misbehaving student in class?
Suggested response: “First, I would never verbally or physically reprimand a student in class. I would wait until the class was over to speak to that student. If there were English communication issues, I would ensure another teacher or administrator from the school was present to translate my message to the student about my disapproval of his/her misbehaviour in class.”
6. What makes you unique from all the other teacher applicants who’ve applied for this job?
Suggested response: Suggest a hobby, volunteer work, or a personal experience that makes you best suited to be an ESL teacher. Don’t just say you love children. Think deeply about this question and prepare a response that will resonate with the recruiter and move you to the shortlist or hiring stage.
7. How would you handle students in the same class who have different English levels? This is a reality, especially in Asian countries so accept it.
Suggested response: “I would choose lesson topics that both beginner and advanced students would find interesting and challenging. For example, a topic with minimal instructions, reading or difficult vocabulary that the beginners would feel comfortable with. For the advanced students I would challenge their fluency on the topic by giving them new expressions during discussion and asking more why questions to challenge fluency. Also, if there is group conversation work involved, I would assign the most advanced students the role of group facilitator.”
8. Have you ever done drugs?
Suggested response: This is a personal question and also has legal ramifications. Some countries will evaluate your response much more seriously than others. For example the Middle East or countries like Indonesia or Malaysia where they execute drug users and traffickers. Research the drug laws in the country before applying, especially if you have done drugs. There is no suggested response here. You’re on your own.
9. Would you date your student?
Suggested response: This is a tough question depending on what country you are in. It should be handled carefully. If you’re applying for a teaching job in Asia I would say something along these lines…
“I would definitely say no I would not date my student. However, I have heard of English teachers who have dated or ended up marrying students in (your country). So it does happen. If teachers and students are dating it should be kept confidential because it is awkward for the students in class. If I were the administrator and learned a teacher was dating a student I would move the student to another class immediately, if possible.”
10. Do you have any disabilities that would prevent you from teaching?
Suggested response: From a western perspective this is a discriminating question, but you’re going to a different country, so you’ll be required to answer it. Be upfront and tell them if you have physical or mental disabilities, if you feel comfortable doing so.
11. Have you ever had psychological counselling?
Suggested response: Again this question could be asked, so handle it as you choose, but don’t be put off by it. Also, keep in mind you will probably be teaching children so their parents have a right to know about your mental and emotional stability.
12. Where have you travelled?
Suggested response: The purpose of this question is to determine how well you might be able to handle culture shock. If you’ve visited foreign countries you may be better able to handle a new culture, food, language and job than someone who hasn’t. Everyone is different and not necessarily true, but it helps the employer gauge whether or not to hire you.
If you’ve already had an interview or two, please add additional questions or responses you’ve heard in the comments section below.
Best of luck!