Although the majority of TEFL employers worldwide treat their staff well, as in all walks of life, there are some bad apples out there. One of the most effective ways to avoid working for a school or language center that doesn’t care that much about the well being of their staff is to ask the right questions during your job interview. Here are some of the most important areas you should cover:
Will I be expected to do extra work outside of normal teaching hours?
Many teaching jobs come with some expectation of working outside of normal classroom teaching hours. These expected duties can vary greatly, but can include report writing, staff meetings, parent meetings, lesson plan discussions, lunchtime or after school supervision etc. In some cases extra duties might be paid for or they might be expected as part of your routine. To ensure you know where you stand before you take the job it is important to be clear on what is expected by any potential employer.
What level of teacher turnover do you have in your school?
This is often a good indication of staff satisfaction at any school. Although it is common for EFL teachers to move jobs more frequently than many other professions, if few staff members choose to stay for more than one contract or there are several cases of teachers breaking their contract you might want to be a bit wary. The best thing you can do is ask to speak to teachers who are currently working at the school. The employer should have no reason to deny this request as it is common practice, but if they do it is another sign that this might not be the right employer for you.
What will my classes be like?
To get a good picture of what lies ahead you will probably need to ask several questions in this area. How old will the students be? How many students will I have in my class? Will I have to prepare my own curriculum or is one provided? The number of different scenarios here are many, so it is vital you ask enough questions to build a picture of the classroom you will be in and whether it is one you will be comfortable with.
What is the pay structure?
Although asking questions about pay can feel a bit awkward, it is important that you are clear as to your starting salary and what chances you might have for future pay increases. It is also vital that you know how and when you will be paid. Knowing what to budget for while waiting for your first paycheck is not something you want to guess at.
What teaching resources will I have access to?
The available resources at the school will largely dictate how you plan and deliver your lessons. To get an idea on how this will work you need to know if you will have access to computers, printers, photocopiers and a good internet connection, and if these facilities are free to use or if they have any restrictions. How your classroom is equipped is also a major issue as using a high-tech, interactive white board, an overhead protector, or an old-fashioned chalkboard will have major consequences on how you approach your lessons. One other thing to check is if there is any budget for extra teaching materials you might wish to use in the classroom.
Remember to adjust your questions to suit the specific job!
The questions given above are just a few examples of important areas you should be asking about in a job interview. On top of these, you are likely to have many other questions that are important to you and ones that are specific to the job you are applying for and the location where it is situated. One thing you should always remember is not to be scared to say no to a job if it doesn’t feel right as there are always plenty more opportunities out there. Walking away from a potential job due to a gut feeling is far better than finding yourself in an unhappy situation because you failed to ask the right questions.