www.costaricatesol.com - ITA Costa Rica

TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 02/25/2023

ESL Interview Tips

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

-Andrew Grant

An interview is the first opportunity you will have to sell yourself, to make the school feel like they need you on staff!  Follow our tips to have a successful ESL interview.


1-Research the school and country you want to work in Expect them to ask you questions like the following.


• What interests you about this school?

• What do you know about this school?

• How much support do you expect from a school?

• Why do you want to live in this country?

• Have you lived or traveled abroad before?

• What cultural differences did you find difficult to get used to?


In many countries, teaching ESL consists of teaching split shifts and on weekends.  You might be expected to travel a lot for classes, possibly working in more than one school or business.  Be prepared to ask and answer questions about these topics.


2-Prepare to answer questions about your teaching experience Practice with a friend and take time to formulate an appropriate response to these questions.  This will help you stay calm during the actual interview.


• Where did you take your TEFL course?  What was the most important thing you learned in your training? How did you grow as a teacher?

• What was your previous teaching experience/practice teaching like?  How many hours?  What type of students?  What technology did you use in your classroom?

• What are your strengths and weaknesses (as a teacher/as an employee/ as a coworker)?

• Do you speak any foreign languages?   Tell me about your experiences learning a foreign language.

• Tell me about your previous jobs. What were your responsibilities?  What would your coworkers from those jobs say about you?

• How would you handle a class of students of mixed abilities?

•How would you deal with off-task or disruptive students?

• Tell me about your experience teaching children / business English.

• What course books do you have experience using? What do you think of them?

• Can you prepare your own materials and/or develop your own curriculum?

•What do you find rewarding about being a teacher?

•What makes you standout as a teacher?

• What are your interests outside of work?


Be prepared to discuss your teaching philosophy, especially pertaining to learning languages.  What theories, methods and techniques do you feel most strongly about?  What can students expect from your teaching style?

It is also common in ESL teaching interviews for the interviewer to ask questions about specific grammar points (Present Perfect, Past Continuous, Conditionals etc.), so take a few minutes to review your notes before the interview.  Some schools and institutes might even ask you to stand up and demonstrate a grammar explanation or show them part of a lesson.  It would be a good idea for you to bring in your portfolio from your TEFL course to have samples of worksheets and activities you've created and implemented as well.


3-Dress for Success.  Whether your interview is face-to-face or over a webcam, dress to impress.  We recommend professional or business casual attire.  Typically, business suits or jackets are not expected in an ESL interview, but your clothing should be a reflection of the professional employee you aim to be. 


4-  Be on time.  If your interview is via webcam, give yourself plenty of time to make sure your logged in and not having any technical problems.  Many times these interviews have participants in different time zones, so make sure you are fully awake and ready to represent yourself well! 

If your interview is face-to-face, make sure you prepare to get to the school on time.  Research the buses (trains, taxis, etc) ahead of time to eliminate any extra stress from the day.  Visit a restroom before entering the school and don't forget to wipe off all the extra sweat and check your hair and make-up one last time.  Obviously we don't recommend walking into an interview smelling like smoke either! 


5-After the interview.    Take the time to send a timely thank-you email to the interviewer.  Not only does it reinforce your interest in the position, it can be an opportunity for you to address anything you may have forgotten or didn't answer as thoroughly as you would've liked during the interview or restate why you feel qualified for the position.  Keep it brief.  A couple of paragraphs will suffice. 

If everything has gone well, they will then offer you a contract.   Read the contract very carefully and don’t be afraid to ask if anything is not clear. A reputable employer will appreciate the fact that moving to another country to live and work is a big change and should be forthcoming with assistance.

During our 4-week, onsite TESOL course, we will give you even more tips on interviewing for ESL jobs!  Sign up today!


More Interview Do's & Don'ts

How to Build Your ESL Resume


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