Anyone venturing into ESL employment always has the prospect of being subjected to an interview. Early preparation for the interview allows you to be confident and be able to diligently and accurately answer all the questions that will be directed at you. For purposes of better understanding and creating order, we will divide these questions into 3 main categories: personal questions, career related questions and the general knowledge questions.
1. What Are Your Strengths?
This is among the most common questions you will find in any given ESL teachers’ interview. As such, you would expect that people would give an answer that would boost their chances of being hired. However, as it is a common question, many will give a cliché answer. In an interview of 100 people approximately 90% of the candidates will give the same answer. Be honest in your response and give a unique and relevant strength to your field perhaps one that will give you an edge over other interviewees.
2. What are some of your weaknesses?
The funny thing with this question is that it elicits responses that often compromise the ability of an ESL teacher to do a particular task. For example, as a teacher, if you say that your biggest weakness is dealing with a slow learner, you will only succeed in ruining your chances of being hired since the employer knows that a good teacher ought to be patient and considerate of the student’s needs. What you can do in this case is to give an answer that portrays you in good light. Avoid giving out weaknesses such as being a perfectionist which has been used over and over again, and adds little or no value to you image.
3. Are you a team player?
This question has many sides to it. It can be used to determine how well you can relate as an ESL teacher with the fellow staff members. This is an important attribute in any school setting as it provides a healthy learning environment. So, if you want to create a good impression, you should at least say that you get along quite well with other people. Secondly, this question can imply how well you are able to participate in activities that require combined task force such as team-teaching and other co-curricular activities for the benefit of both the staff and students. With this in mind, your response should not be a single word but a brief explanation of all these aspects mentioned here.
Career related questions
4. Can you describe how your ideal class room looks like?
If asked such a question, you should put into consideration how your class rooms operate, how you teach and the way the students interact and participate in class. This should be in relation to the level of the education of the students and your expertise as an ESL teacher. Use this opportunity to build a good image of how you would be able to effectively carry out and manage your class. Start from the time you enter the room and describe how everything appears. You can use pictorial evidence of your previous class to demonstrate your class arrangement and its effectiveness.
5.) What made you decide that you want to work in our school?
So as to answer this question correctly, prior research or the school and the location of the school is required. You should find out the academic performance and reputation of the school in question. A good approach would be to give precise reasons for your interest in that particular school or district. Find out about their academic achievements, goals and perspectives. You would also do well to familiarize yourself with the faculty and the activities that take place in the school. This way, you show your potential employer just how serious you are about getting that position in the said school.
6.) What is your take on discipline in a classroom?
Depending on the level one is teaching and the mode of teaching, this will vary from one ESL teacher to another. However, there should be some form of discipline in the way the students will interact with the teacher and the fellow students. Be keen to outline how you hope to effectively instill discipline in your students while at the same time effectively carryout your lessons. Present to your employer a plan of how you are going to achieve this. The best way would be to ensure the students get to know what you can tolerate and what you cannot during the first week of service.
7.) What are some of the aspects that qualify one to be a good principal?
You should be careful in answering this question as principal of the school is likely to be among the interviewing panel. Do not air views that might put the principal in bad light or show a disapproval of his/her running of the school. This is why it is important to conduct a feasibility study of the school before the interview. By asking you this, the panel wants to know the traits that you value as a teacher.
8.) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?
Such a question is used to determine the aggressiveness and vision of a potential teacher in an interview. It is a fact that a successful person always has a vision of where they want to be or what they hope to achieve in the future. Be careful not to say that you envision yourself as being the principal of that school in the near future as you might portray yourself in bad light. Instead try to focus on what you hope to achieve with the students.
9.) Is there anything you would like to ask us?
In an interview, you might be given an opportunity to ask questions. When this happens, ask questions that build your image and avoid the ones that you can find out the answers by yourself. This way, you show the interviewing panel that you have an interest in the ESL teaching field and the vacancy as well. Your questions should major on areas related to the school.
10. What is your view on the education system in this area or district?
Here, you are given an opportunity to give suggestions on how the current education system can be improved or what you think might be good or bad about this system. It goes a long way to show just how much experience you have as a teacher and how much you are able to give to the school.
One of the traits that a panel will look for in an individual is honesty. So, try as much as possible to be honest in your responses and make sure you answer each question in a simple yet precise manner. And, when you are asking questions, don’t turn the tables so that you dominate the interview.
The above are just but a few of the questions you might be asked, so take time to know the possible questions and the appropriate responses to these and other related questions. Remember, preparation and understanding the needs and expectations of the interviewing panel is the key to sailing through an ESL teacher’s interview.