Congratulations on getting an interview! Now what?
Accepting Interview Requests
If a school contacts you for an interview – through a Fair or perhaps they identified your profile through the Search database – our recommendation is to ACCEPT THE INTERVIEW. You may not have considered this school/country/region before, but the information you gain from the interview will allow you to evaluate the school far better than any research. It is also an opportunity for you to connect with school leaders – if this job doesn’t work out, but you made a strong personal connection with the interviewer, he/she may remember you next time when they have moved onto a school that you are interested in. Lastly, treat every interview as a PD opportunity – interviewing (especially online) is a skill that gets better with more practice.
How many interviews?
It is not uncommon for schools to undergo 2 or 3 interviews, before making an offer (or not).
The first interview is a chance for the school to determine if you are a suitable candidate, so questions would relate to your teaching experiences. This is not the time to discuss salary/benefits! This will come in subsequent interviews. Second or third interviews are also the time to mention any personal situations that could affect hiring decisions (ie marital status about to change?). Are there any personal/family issues or health issues that may impact your ability to honour your agreement to move to a new school? Do you take medication which may not be available in some countries? Can’t live without bringing your three large dogs? Let the interviewer know these things in advance – they will appreciate your honesty and discussing this upfront will avoid any unpleasant situations in the future.
Video Interviews – Many schools, especially the larger, more popular schools, are now using recorded Video Interviews as part of their screening process. One common format is 5-10 questions, 1-3 minutes to read the question/thinking time, then 1-2 minutes to respond. Some platforms allow you to re-record your answers, some do not.
My suggestion to prepare would be to set up your laptop and practice recording your answers to a few sample questions. Prepare for the obvious questions ie a) what value you can bring to the school and its academic programs, b) something specific about your teaching ie. Literacy and or math, c) how would you handle a challenging situation, d)what you could do for the school/community outside of the classroom. For the recording, check your background, your mic/sound/lightening etc. in advance and dress professionally.
Guidelines for an introductory video
Introductory Videos – Some schools may ask you to submit a short 1-2 minute introductory video. There won’t be enough time to run through your whole CV/Resume, and remember, they already have a copy of your CV/Resume and access to your Search profile. Better to be precise and highlight your key teaching skills and the “value-added” that you can bring to their school.
What are the most essential points that you want a recruiter to know about you, and that you can convey articulately in 1-2 minutes? Here are some tips:
- Include both professional and personal points
- Highlight your teaching skills, and give an example of an effective lesson that resonated with your students
- Make sure you mention teams you can coach, activities/clubs you have led or sponsored, committees you have been a part of ie accreditation, curriculum development, assessment etc
- Be mindful of your presentation style as this communicates a lot
- Consider your setting, appearance, body language and use of voice.
- What is essential to capture the essence of YOU!
- Be yourself…and smile!
ONLINE INTERVIEW TIPS
Here are some general tips when interviewing on Zoom, Teams or Skype. If you are using Skype, make sure your Skype account name is professional and appropriate (ie firstname.surname vs Avengers).
1. Test audio and camera in advance. Use your laptop or tablet, not your smartphone.
2. Elevate your laptop to avoid staring down into the camera.
3. Dress professionally.
4. Position yourself at a desk or table, against a plain, neutral background.
5. Check the lighting in the room (lighter is better for a clearer image). Do not have a bright light behind you, rather soft lighting from behind your laptop. If you wear glasses, check that the glare from your lenses is minimized (tilting your glasses forward sometimes helps).
6. Close all other applications on your laptop.
7. Silence your cell phone, and disable vibration alert.
8. Have a copy of your resume at hand.
9. Attach post-its around the laptop screen with prompts and the questions you wish to ask the interviewer.
10. Ban kids, pets and others from the room for the duration of the interview.
11. Have pen and paper at hand.
12. Have a glass of water/water bottle next to you.
13. Have the phone number/skype address of the interviewer at hand, and/or quick access to the email with the zoom link, in case the video connection is lost.
14. Fully researched the school in depth before your interview
15. Double-check the date, time, time zone. Be on time, not too early and never late.
As you prepare for interviews for various teaching jobs, it’s important to know that each recruiter has different interview styles and purposes. Some recruiters are quite formal and might have a list of educational questions to determine your professional knowledge, experience, personality, and ability to think on your feet. Others will have more of a casual conversation and not ask too many educational questions. The recruiters (who are usually the administrators at the school) are also trying to give you a feel for their school because they want you to feel comfortable about the school and region. The process of connecting schools and educators is all about a fit for both the school and the candidate.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW
We have put together a few things to consider before attending an interview for an international school position.
Pre-Interview: Know yourself – What is it you are looking for in your next teaching job?
Begin by creating a list that covers 3 major areas of what you’re hoping to find on the next leg of your journey- ‘Professionally, Personally and Financially’. This list won’t make the decision for you, but it will put you on the right track to making these all-important and incredibly exciting decisions.
Another tool is a ‘Pros and Cons’ list for any offers you receive. When you have done both lists you can use your Professionally, Personally and Financially” list to measure the pros and cons against it.
Research the international school itself, the country and city that it is located in, and what it is like to work there. It’s important to know as much as possible before applying for a position at an international school, not just to see if you’re right for them, but if they’re right for you. The Search database has some key information about the school’s demographics, curriculum, programs, its salary/benefit package. Also review the school’s own website – you will get a good feel for the school’s culture and community.
During the Interview
Many of us have trouble saying how wonderful we are, but in the space of 30 minutes, you don’t have time to be coy! Aim for the fine line between humble and hero – point out the things you are good at and how you are the best for the position. Highlight how you will contribute to the school and its community. What’s your “value-added”? or in other words, “what are you bringing to the table?” Schools are looking for staff who are fantastic team members – able to get on with all community members, so aim to be likable, charming, sit straight, smile, have eye contact, and be interested. Don’t forget, honesty is the best policy. Let your own personality shine through and just be yourself!
Questions at the end
Ask questions to appear interested and engaged. Now is not the time to discuss packages and benefits, unless the recruiter facilitates this.
Here are a few questions you might like to ask when interviewing for your next teaching job — if they weren’t already answered — to help you get a better sense of the role and the school and to leave the interview with a positive, lasting impression:
Have I answered all of your questions?
Before you begin asking your questions, find out if there’s anything they’d like you to elaborate on. You can do this by saying something like, “Yes, I do have a few questions for you — but before I get into those, I am wondering if I’ve sufficiently answered all of your questions. Would you like me to explain anything further or give any examples?” Not only may they appreciate the offer, but it may be a good chance for you to gauge how well you’re doing.
What do you like most about working for this school?
Interviewers usually like to talk about themselves and especially things they know well. Plus, this question gives you a chance to get an insider’s view on the best parts about working for this school.
What are the challenges of this position?
If the interviewer says, “There aren’t any”, you should proceed with caution!
What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing at the school?
This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the school, and it will also help you decide if you’re a good fit for the position,
How do you help your teachers grow professionally?
This question shows that you’re willing to work hard to ensure that you grow along with your school.
Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with? What are the next steps and what is your timeline for making a decision?
Knowing if a recruiter wants you to meet with potential supervisors or not will give you insight into how much the school values building team synergy. If the interviewer says you have two more interviews to go, then you’ve gained a better sense of the hiring timeline as well. The interviewer may say they are attending a Fair and want to interview candidates there as well. This means you may have a longer wait while they interview other applicants.
There are a lot of resources on the internet with tips on online interviews and sample interview questions. We’ve included some links to some good ones below.
Here are some general interview tips:
Exhaustive lists of criteria and strategies for creating successful applications and interviews abound, but here are some tips that can determine whether your first choice school makes you an offer. These are distilled from over 25 years of experience recruiting candidates for schools, working closely with international school recruiters, and interviewing over 5,000 candidates. (Forrest Broman TIE Online, 5 January 2017)
Preparing for an international teaching job interview An in-person interview is like taking a trip to the dentist – a necessary evil. The build-up is the worst part, the actual appointment is usually over far quicker than you expected and it’s a huge relief when the ordeal is over (by Irma Berardi in Teachaway 18 November 2016)
Four things you need to know about being interviewed for international teacher jobs Interviewing for a teaching job overseas is very different from what you might be used to back home. Here are some things to consider (TES Jobs 5 December 2018)
7 Questions Principals Should Ask When Hiring Future-Ready Teachers. From the teacher/candidate perspective and with a slight design/IT bias this is a useful list as you think about preparing for a Skype or face to face interview (Mind Shift 10 July 2019)
Preparing for a teaching job interview – tips from principals No matter how many you have experienced, or how established you are in your career, attending a job interview can be a daunting experience. What do you do when you are unsure how to answer a question? What should you remember to bring along with you? In this Q&A, we speak with three principals about their top tips (by Dominique Russell in Teacher Magazine 25 June 2018)
11 Questions You’ll Be Asked at a Teaching Interview Commonly asked interview questions you can anticipate—plus tips and links to resources you can tap as you polish your answers. (Robert Ward, Sonja Cassella in Edutopia Online, 25 October 2018).
Interview Questions and Answers: A useful archive of standard and no so standard interview questions and some suggested responses (by Biron Clark in CareerSidekick)
Top 10 questions teachers are asked at job interviews. Preparing for interviews – whether face to face or by Skype can be daunting. This may help. (Rebecca Ratcliffe in The Guardian, 14 January 2014)
8 Teacher Interview Questions (& How to Answer with Confidence) The interview process can be daunting. You try to present your best self, hoping that you say the right thing and don’t botch any of your answers. (Teachers of Tomorrow, 27 March 2017)
(Indeed, 2nd October 2020)
25 Teacher Interview Questions & Answers (Common & Hard)
(Tom Gerencer, 11th June 2019)
Note: If you would more Interview Tips and sample interview questions (ie if you are registered for a Search Recruitment Fair), please email me