www.costaricatesol.com - ITA Costa Rica

TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 12/22/2022

More Interview Do's & Don'ts

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

As  director of studies, it was my job to hire the new teachers for  ESL schools. Even after countless interviews, it never ceased to amaze me how many ESL teachers either blew the interview completely, or at least made it very difficult to consider them for the job. A lot of the times they were well-meaning applicants who, because of inexperience or temporary moments of non-thinking, make it harder than it needs to be to get hired. We have previously discussed some of these and the others might seem like common sense, but judging by the interviews I have done, they might not be. Hopefully I can help you avoid some of these issues, with these do’s and don'ts for ESL job interviews.

ESL Interview Tips

Get there on time.

I would say 30% of candidates show up to interviews late. As crazy as this seems, it is true. These teachers aren’t stupid, they just make the big mistake of assuming that everything will go according to plan on their trip to the school. These teachers assume they will find the school easily. They won’t. They assume the bus trip will take the amount of time they think it will. It won’t. They assume there won’t be any unexpected issues traveling to a place they have never been to on a bus they have never taken, in a city they just recently arrived at.

Get to the school at least an hour before the interview. Don’t go in the school; that is weird.  But hang around the coffee shop or the park for an hour so you can walk into your interview on time, relaxed and not sweating profusely.

Dress appropriately.

Again common sense, but again crazy amount of times where the teacher blows the interview before it even starts. You have to show the director that this job is important to you. If you can't be bothered to buy/wear nice clothes, how can the director be bothered to hire you. You are telling him, I need this job, but it means absolutely nothing to me, and I will put the absolute minimum of effort into the job until the day I leave. 

Show your charismatic personality.

The director is trying to imagine you in front of his students. He doesn't want his students falling asleep and dropping out of the course. Many times your answers to the interview questions are irrelevant. What is relevant is the way you present your answers. The smiling face, the telling of jokes, the lively personality that will allow the director to imagine happy entertained students in your classroom. If you don't have a charismatic personality, then you will have to pretend you do. 

Know your grammar

The number of shocked looks I get when I ask grammar questions at an interview is amazing. Of course you are going to be asked grammar questions. That is what you are going to teach, why would they hire someone who doesn’t know grammar? Ridiculous.  No, they are not expecting grammar experts, but if you have no idea what they are talking about when asked about the present perfect for example, why would they hire you? You don’t deserve the job.

Bring a PROFESSIONAL looking notebook.

This shows you are professional and organized, two things that directors are looking for. Plus the director will be giving you a lot of info about his/her school that you will want to write down, and compare with other schools. 

Bring stuff with you.

The director doesn’t expect you to have brought everything with you that he might ask for, but it makes a great impression if you have thought ahead and like a professional and organized teacher, brought everything he might ask for. 

I recommend bringing your CV, a Copy of your TEFL certificate, a copy of passport, one of your sample lesson plans, your Costa Rican tax book, reference letters and a copy of your university degree.


Job Search Mistakes

Be ready to give a DEMO lesson.

Very rarely will you be asked to do one on the spot, or even the same day as your first interview, but most schools ask you to give a demo lesson at some point.  Be ready! AND SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY! 

Ask questions.

I hate it when at the end of the interview, I ask a teacher if he/she has any questions to ask me, and they say NO. That is impossible. There are a million things they don’t know, they are just too afraid to ask. Here are some possible question topics:  Class size, Students' age and levels, Class length, Textbook series used (they might ask you which you are familiar with, be ready with 2 or 3 names), Are classes in the school or is there traveling involved? Are the classes in the day or night (which days)? Is the communicative approach emphasized? Are pay periods monthly or biweekly?

Taking notes in your professional looking notebook and asking questions (not too many) shows you are professional and this job is important to you. You are not just simply going through the motions, but you are taking things seriously. 

These are some things specific to ESL interviews, but many do’s and don’ts lists can be found online and adapted to ESL interviews. It wouldn’t hurt to go over one or two before you start your interviews. 

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

How to Build your ESL Resume


Don't forget to share this post!