Common TEFL Interview Questions
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No matter what kind of job you’re looking for, the prospect of a job interview can be daunting. There are very few people in this world who enjoy job interviews (if any!) and all they do for us is make us feel anxious and nervous and sweaty. Applying for TEFL jobs is no different, but even if you have had other job interviews you might not know exactly what to expect from a TEFL interview. Let’s break down the whole interview process and look at the most common questions in a TEFL interview, so that you can be prepared for your next one. So today, we are going to look at some common TEFL interview questions.
But first let’s look at what the TEFL job application process entails.
Applying for a TEFL job
These days the majority of jobs teaching English as a Foreign Language are found online. There are loads of different jobs boards, such as TEFL.com, that you can look on to find jobs that you want to apply for. Then you simply send a good cover letter along with your CV to the email supplied and wait to be contacted. If you make it through the first round, you will be contacted for an interview over Zoom or Skype. If you are successful in the interview then it is likely that you will be offered the job.
If, however, you don’t apply for a job online, that means you are already in the country where you want to teach. Instead of looking for jobs online, it’s possible for you to pound the pavements and drop off your CV at any schools you know are looking for teachers, or even prospectively at schools you want to work at. The same interview process will apply though: if they like your CV and cover letter they will contact you for an interview.
A TEFL interview
A few different things may happen in a TEFL interview. The first step of course will be introducing yourself and the interviewer will ask you about your past experience. They might have asked you to prepare a dummy lesson (for example, prepare a lesson to teach the present perfect to a class of 12 25-year olds in Turkey). If they have, they will then ask you to run them through what you have planned.
They might also ask you to do a demo lesson on video. Again they should give you lesson aims and you would record this beforehand, send it to them and they will ask you questions based on the demo during the interview.
Read more: Top Tips to Ace Your Demo Lesson
Then there are the interview questions. As in any job interview, these questions can relate to anything. (Some stinkers we’ve heard are: What colour is your aura? Which superhero are you most like? And If you were an animal what would you be?). However, there are a number of questions which seem to come up again and again in TEFL interviews. Knowing these questions and thinking about possible answers is important if you want to have a good interview. It’s difficult to think on your feet when you are already nervous so rather come up with possible answers which you could draw on if necessary.
Note: we are NOT saying you should prepare answers word for word and learn them off by heart. This will make you come off as unnatural and wooden. But before your interview, consider these common TEFL interview questions and think about how you could answer them.
Common TEFL interview questions
- Why do you want to teach English?
This is not the time to explain how teaching English is your ticket to travelling the world. Focus on the reasons you want to teach English that relate more to interacting with people on a daily basis, and your passion for the English language (and other languages). If it is a job interview for Young Learners, then you could throw in something about your love for kids too.
- Why do you want to teach English abroad?
Similar to the previous question but slightly different, this is a tricky one. It is tempting to wax lyrical about all the countries that you want to visit and cultures you want to explore, but that actually can make you come across as a flight risk. It’s also not a good idea to let them know if you are running away from a relationship or just want to move out of your parents’ home! Rather focus on the teaching aspect and talk about how much you want to teach and explain that there are better teaching opportunities abroad than in your city, or you’d like to teach in an immersion context.
- What teaching experience do you have?
This one shouldn’t really be a surprise. If this is not your first teaching job, then you’re golden. If, however, you have never taught before, don’t let that worry you. First of all, if you did any practical teaching on your TEFL course – teaching EFL students or your fellow TEFL trainees or online – that counts as teaching experience. If you have taught but not in an EFL context, you should definitely mention that. If you done any tutoring, au pairing, sports coaching, or anything which involves taking care of children (for positions teaching Young Learners), tell the interviewer about it and explain how it has helped you prepare to teach English as a foreign language.
Even if you have only worked in a totally unrelated field, you can highlight the transferrable skills you acuqired on the job. For example, if you work in customer service, this will have taught you how to deal with different kinds of people and probably how to have oodles of patience too, which are very good skills and traits you can use when dealing with students.
- What makes a good TEFL teacher?
This is similar to another question you might get asked, What are your strengths and weaknesses? When you answer this question, the interviewer will be able to understand your theories around teaching and learning, as well as the characteristics of your own teaching style. When you answer this question, make sure you consider the different responsibilities of a TEFL teacher besides teaching, such as classroom management, discipline style, rapport and communication.
Read more: Four Roles of TEFL Teachers
- What is your discipline style?
This question is especially relevant for teaching Young Learners. And it’s not only a good interview question but it’s something you should think about anyway. The interviewer may ask you what you would do in a certain situation – for example, if a student refuses to stop speaking in their first language, or never does their homework – or they might ask you to speak about how you would discipline your students in a general sense. Either way, you should think about different tricky scenarios you could find yourself in and how you would react.
- Take me through an activity that you have done with a class that has worked well.
Obviously if you haven’t taught a class, this can be difficult. But you may have had some classroom training on your TEFL course with classmates or students and this is just as valid. Think of an activity or game which is relatively easy to explain and go through the procedure step by step. What the employer is looking for here is evidence that you understand the purpose of an activity – to present/practice/revise adjectives of personality/the present perfect/compound nouns – and know how to execute it.
- Take me though an activity that you have done with a class that hasn’t worked well. How would you do it differently?
Again, if you haven’t had any classroom experience you may need to be a bit creative. Consider an activity that you came across during your TEFL course and think about how it might not work with a particular class. For example, a very interactive game may not work with a class that is very shy or low-energy, or a certain activity may not work because the abilities and knowledge of the class were over/underestimated. Be honest about the fact that this is a hypothetical situation and your employer will appreciate the fact that you can predict tricky situations and come up with solutions to anticipated problems.
- How would you teach the present perfect/personality adjectives/the /Ɵ/ sound?
Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut for this and you’ll need to rely on your TEFL training for a good answer. Whichever language point or structure they ask you about you will need to have a few ideas up your sleeve as to how you could teach it. A good way to prepare for this is to come up a few activities for grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Then, to answer the question all you have to do is choose which activities would suit the language point.
If, however, you find you are not familiar with the language point and have no ideas, simply say that you would need to do your homework before the lesson to make sure you knew what you were teaching and to have some ideas about how to teach it. We’re not expected to know everything all the time but we are expected to be proactive and take steps to deal with any shortcomings in our knowledge.
- Why do you want to teach in Bangkok/Madrid/Cape Town?
This is your chance to show that you have done your research. Just as it would for any other job, doing your research into your employer shows that you are serious about the job opportunity and for TEFL this means the location. The location of your teaching position is part and parcel of the job so it is a necessary aspect to consider. Of course, you don’t want to make it seem like you are taking the job for the free flights but understanding the country and the culture you are moving to will help the employers believe that you are ready for the position and will be able to cope with any issues arising from relocation.
Finally, there is one more question you are likely to be asked, and that is: Do you have any questions for us? While it might be tempting to answer a quick No so you can finish the interview, this is a chance for you to show off. Show that you are serious about the position by asking questions about the job specifications. Good questions to ask are:
- How many hours will I teach in a week?
- How big are the classes?
- Do I have an assistant?
- Is there suitable accommodation near the school?
- How many other foreign teachers are in the school?
Remember, no matter what they may throw at you, remaining cool, calm and collected is your best bet for acing a job interview. Good luck!
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- Carry out fraud and other legal investigations
Where we use another organisation, we make sure that your personal information is protected and remains in our control.
- We also, in certain situations, share personal information with government bodies and law enforcement bodies. Where we do share personal information with these types of organisations we’ll make sure it’s protected, as far as it is reasonably possible.
We’ll use your personal information to send you direct marketing and to better identify products and services that interest you. We do that if you’re one of our customers or if you’ve been in touch with us another way (such as registering to attend an ELEARNING FUTURES LTD event).
This means we’ll:
- create a profile about you to better understand you as a customer and tailor the communications we send you (including our marketing messages);
- tell you about other products and services you might be interested in;
- try to identify products and services you’re interested in; and
We use the following for marketing and to identify the products and services you’re interested in.
- Your contact details. This includes your name, gender, address, phone number, date of birth and email address.
- Information from cookies and tags placed on your connected devices.
- Information from other organisations such as aggregated demographic data and publicly available sources like the electoral roll and business directories.
- Details of the products and services you’ve bought and how you use them.
We’ll send you information (about the products and services we provide) by phone, post, email, text message, online banner advertising. We also use the information we have about you to personalise these messages wherever we can as we believe it is important to make them relevant to you. We do this because we have a legitimate business interest in keeping you up to date with our products and services. We also check that you are happy for us to send you marketing messages before we do so. In each message we send, you also have the option to opt-out.
We’ll only market other organisations’ products and services if you have said it is OK for us to do so.
You can ask us to stop sending you marketing information or withdraw your permission at any time.
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD retains personal information in line with our corporate retention requirements. Your data will be stored within the European Economic Area (“the EEA”) (The EEA consists of all EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, in some circumstances, part or all of your data may be stored or transferred outside of the European Economic Area (“the EEA”). You are deemed to accept and agree to this by using our site and submitting information to us. If we do store or transfer data outside the EEA, we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your data is treated as safely and securely as it would be within the EEA and under the GDPR. Such steps may include, but not be limited to, the use of legally binding contractual terms between us and any third parties we engage with, and the use of the EU-approved Model Contractual Arrangements. If we intend at any time to transfer any of your data outside the EEA, we will always obtain your consent beforehand.
Right to access personal information
- Under the law, any individual has a right to ask for a copy of the personal information held about them. This means that you can ask for the information that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD holds about you. This is known as the right of ‘subject access’.
- When making a request you will need to give us:
- a request in writing (by post or by email)
- We may need to ask you to provide:
- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.