You’ll need to participate in at least one job interview in order to secure a teaching position in China. Your skype interview will be the most important part of your job application process, and there are a number of things to consider before your interview to improve your chances of success, as you may be competing against other teachers for the same position. Spending time to prepare will ensure that you come across to the interview as keen, knowledgeable and interested in working for their school.
Pre- Interview Preparation
Do your Research!
We appreciate this is not always possible to do so, however try to find out what you can about the school or company you are looking to join. This could include:
- The age of students
- The type of curriculum the school follows
- Does the school/company have other locations?
- Does the school run extra-curricular events such as Halloween parties, Christmas parties, field trips, etc?
- Places of interest in the city or town (to show that you are not only interested in the job, but also the surrounding area)
If you know the ages of the students in the school you can research good approaches to teaching this age group, for example by…
- Reading online articles about English language teaching for this student target group
- Some common problems such groups of students typically have
- Popular websites for worksheets, games and activities
- Watching YouTube videos
- Classroom management articles and videos
Ensure that your Skype is working
The vast majority of interviews are conducted via skype. It sounds obvious, but ensure that you log on at least 10 minutes before your interview, make sure your headphones and microphone are working the day before, and add your interviewer’s Skype ID well before your interview takes place. You may need to ‘accept’ your interviewer’s contact request in order to become their contact.
Remember to sit in a well lit place in order that your interviewer can see you properly. Your webcam will also show your living or working space, so we suggest you make sure that the area is tidy! Where possible, a plain background, such as a wall, is preferable.
Sometimes Skype will cut in and out, or it can be difficult to see or hear the person on the other side. From time to time you may even need to stop the call and try again. Try to be patient and flexible, 2 key assets required if you’re considering teaching English in China.
Compile a List of Questions
While Opportunity China will provide you with an overview of the position and school, there are some details we simply cannot provide. After your interview is finished, you should take the opportunity to ask questions. Remember, you are assessing whether the position is right for you.
Asking some good questions will enable you to come across as well organised and informed. Although by this stage you should have been provided with some information on the class schedule, students, salary, and living conditions, you still may have questions relating to textbooks used, style of teaching, other foreign teachers, work dress expectations etc. By expressing interest about the city, school, and students, the school knows you’re serious about becoming a part of Chinese culture and being a successful English teacher in China.
As a guide, we suggest that you keep your questions to 3 as a maximum, as any further questions can always be submitted via email.
A topic we would recommend you don’t ask too many questions on in your first conversation with the school is the remuneration package. Yes, we understand that a key concern will be the monthly salary, apartment or accommodation allowance, and any other benefits, however you shouldn’t appear to be too focused on this above your interest in the school, as it will not create a good first impression with the interviewer!
It’s a good idea to wear smart clothes, as the interviewer may require the video to be on. This includes something on your bottom half, not just your pj’s!
Most skype interviews for an English teaching position in China are very different to the Western interview style you may be used to; they are usually short (30 minute or less) and don’t tend to include too many probing questions such as ‘where do you see your career in 10 years?’.
Interviewers are also generally not looking to test you on grammar skills or trying to trip you up on the theoretical knowledge acquired via your TEFL certification. Schools should be friendly, approachable and hoping you’ll tick all the boxes and really want to come to their school. Your interviewer will also be focusing on getting a feel for what you might be like to actually work with for a year and whether you will get on well with the students and other staff members.
You might be asked ‘why are you interested in coming to work in China?’, or ‘What do you enjoy about teaching English?’, however you should aim to come across as a rounded, friendly and polite person who they can work with. Be prepared to go over what you’ve listed on your application; even though the interviewer will have your CV, they may also want to hear about the details personally.
Your voice and pronunciation are really important. You should speak as clearly as possible so the school has a chance to gauge how your teaching voice will sound; be sure to keep your accent neutral and understandable without using any slang. By speaking too quickly, the interviewer may feel that you can’t reach out students with lower English levels or that you cannot adapt your teaching styles to students with different needs. Also keep in mind that a lot of the time the interviewer may be more nervous speaking English over skype than you are, so make it as easy for them as possible!
Being confident is also vital. If a school feels you have a hard time expressing your confidence through a skype interview, how can they trust that you’ll be able to teach English in front of a group of students!
Finally, try to show your passion for teaching, and enthusiasm for the actual job – act like you want it!
Some of our partner schools will ask candidates to perform a demonstration lesson, or ‘demo’ as part of the interview process, often subsequent to a successful first interview. The request may ask for a ‘live’ demo over skype, or for the demo to be recorded and emailed to the school. While this might be a daunting prospect, it’s not something to be feared, but a chance to show off what you know!
It will be an opportunity for you to show a potential employer that you are the right person for the job. The school are unlikely to be looking for a perfect teacher as much as they are looking for someone who is friendly and outgoing, smiles and is able to structure a good lesson.
When you are requested to give a demo lesson, you should consider for whom the lesson is intended, their English level, the intended topic and the length of the time of the lesson. Within reason, you can often determine most of these things; most of our partner schools give very limited guidance, in order that you can fully show off your creativity and ability.
Some questions to consider may be…
– What level will the students be? Arguably the most important question; ideally the mini demo should be pitched at the right level.
– What kind of lesson should I prepare? Many schools will be very vague, so our suggestion is just teach something that you enjoy!
– How long should it be? You want your demo to be polished and interesting, while showing your professionalism and a hint of personality. A video that’s five minutes or less is ideal—it’s really not necessary to deliver a full lesson.
Preparing your Demo
Practice Your Lesson
Whether you are delivering your demo live or recording it, we suggest you rehearse your sample lesson a few times in front of a friend. Consider your facial expressions, and get their feedback.
Do a Technical Run-Through if Recording
Do a few trial shoots with your camera setup. Consider whether your video quality is good enough? Does the microphone pick up everything you’re saying, or will you need to find a quieter place to film? Is there enough light to illuminate your face? What file format will you save it as in order to upload it?
Have a tripod or a friend film your lesson. It sounds obvious, but while filming be sure to make eye contact with the camera as you would if it were a student. Smile, be confident, and be aware of your hand gestures or nervous movements like adjusting your hair. Be prepared to do quite a few takes!
YouTube cannot be accessed in China, so it is best to compress the video file in order to send via email, or to use a file sharing medium such as ‘We Transfer’ to send it to the school.