20 Common ESL Teacher Interview Questions

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ESL Tate
I have been an ESL Teacher for more than 15 years and a Teacher trainer for the last three. Now I help new teachers start their journey traveling and teaching English abroad.

If you are aspiring to become an ESL teacher, one of the best ways to last that first impression and land that dream ESL job you’ve long been dreaming of is to know the most commonly asked interview questions by recruiters and managers.

Practice makes perfect as they say, if you want to land that dream job of yours, there’s no better way to do it than being prepared.

So without further ado, here are the most commonly asked ESL teacher interview questions and how to best answer them.

1. Could you tell me about yourself?

This doesn’t seem like a probing interview question but it is. It’s meant to put you on the spot and talk about yourself and also to see how you articulate yourself.

It is the most common and basic interview question but the most crucial as this can make or break you. How you’ll answer this question will either interest your interviewer more or proceed for the sake of just being interviewed. Politely introduce yourself, describe him/her yourself with your profile, education, professional backgrounds and a little personal about yourself like your interests, favorite motto, and what do you like to do during your free time. Please do note that the question is ‘Tell me something about yourself’, it means to give the interviewer a little something about yourself and not your autobiography. A 90-second answer would do.

  1. Do you have experience going abroad? Is it for travel or job reasons?

Experience is a plus, if you have, then good for you. But if not, you can still best answer this interview question by highlighting your love for travel and teaching English. You may not have experienced traveling and teaching English overseas, but you definitely have experienced traveling many times and the love for it have taught you about many things in life. Learnings that you’d surely use for future travels and endeavors.

  1. What do you know about the country/destination you’d be teaching English for?

Research is the key here. Be sure that you know enough information about the country you’d like to teach English for. Information like its geography, economy, culture and why ESL teachers are in demand in that country. To impress them more, you may want to know the living conditions there. The cost of living, climate and some of their most common laws.

  1. Your vision – in a few years from now, where do you see yourself?

Of course, you should answer them something related to the job you’re applying for and that is, traveling ESL teacher. So if asked this question, just tell them with confidence that you see yourself as a successful ESL teacher, living life to the fullest, traveling the world.

  1. What’s your ideal activity when you have free time?

This interview question is a bit personal but you must be relevant as much as possible. You can say you like to travel, visit other countries and learn about their norms and cultures.

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Even if the job is none-ESL, this interview question is one of the most commonly asked, and what best way to answer this is to describe mostly your strengths and not go in depth about your weaknesses. Here’s one tip. Give them one strength and tell them it’s also your weakness. Say, for example, you’re hard-working, definitely, but sometimes, you tend to overwork yourself and forget about other important matters, say your health? And that’s not good and you’re working on it – See? Being hardworking is your strength as well as your weakness — how good is that.

  1. How did you overcome a challenge you have faced in the past?

Still, stick to what you’re applying for. Tell them something you had back when you are just starting to be a teacher or something you experienced while you are traveling. Could be your fear of public speaking, time management or the time when you had trouble handling a class, etc.

  1. What do you think is the important qualities an ESL teacher must have to be successful in this field?

Qualities like being passionate about teaching, being patient with students as well as being dedicated to helping them learn. There are a lot of qualities for an ESL teacher to succeed but these are the ‘must-haves’.

  1. What other languages are you proficient in?

If English is the only language you know, then just be honest about it, but impress them with some key phrases you know (Must have, please. You love to travel right? Then you must have the initiative to at least know a little about other languages) and that you’re a fast learner, and for sure you’ll learn more going forward.

  1. Tell us about a time when you need to handle a misunderstanding with higher management.

Give them a short story about how it happened and how did you resolve it, what are the positive outcomes of that misunderstanding and what lessons did you learn from that experience.

  1. Why is knowing the English language an added advantage nowadays?

Well, profession wise, it is very important as one will go a long way if he or she knows how to speak English well. It’s a proven fact that students and fresh graduates who are proficient in the English language have more opportunities in furthering their lives and careers.

  1. What motivates you to teach?

Ask yourself, what motivates you to teach? Dig deeper. Is it because you find teaching English a rewarding career? Fulfilling maybe? How about love for travel and helping others? All of these can be your answer to this question. As I’ve said, ask yourself, dig deeper.

  1. How do you manage planning your daily lesson plans while on top of class work?

In here, the manager or the recruiter is asking about how well do you manage multiple tasks. You can answer him/her some methods you’ve learned in the past, time management hacks and techniques or a chart, games, and activities that could help. You can also tell the interviewer about a time management and organization tools and software you’re using to keep you on track of everything.

  1. What strategies or plans do you have in maintaining discipline in the classroom?

The key is to keep the students busy through engaging and entertaining activities. Tell them about a lesson plan you’ve prepared for the students to keep their attention and that if worst case scenario, problems arise, you’ll ensure to comply with the school’s disciplinary policy.

    1. Do you have any previous teaching experience?

ESL teacher
Everyone is a Teacher

Good for you if you have, but if you haven’t, then you can tell them the teaching certificates you’ve earned i.e. TEFL, ESL among others. Or could also be a volunteer work you’ve done in the past. Teaching English can be mastered along the way, they just want to know if you are at least armed with the basic idea and standards of teaching.  

  1. Are you technology savvy?

Before, this question is not that often asked in interviews, but because we are in the generation where technology is mostly used, you might as well be technology proficient. Discuss them things like audio and visual aids as well as video presentations in lectures and other activities. You can also include some tools and software you’re using to keep yourself organized and on track of everything.

  1. As an ESL teacher, how can you make sure you’re being understood?

Answer them this with confidence — ‘An ESL teacher must have the ability to convey their point efficiently. And that is something I definitely have!’

  1. Do you enjoy teaching? Why?

In here you can say something like you love communicating and interacting with other people. Or also something like teaching is in your heart ever since and that you get some kind of satisfaction whenever someone has learned something from you. Or you can say you find this career very rewarding and fulfilling and that you love making a difference to others. Things like that…

  1. Describe the style of your teaching?

Assess yourself in this. Are you the type where you want your students to interact with you and each other, or are you the type who likes using entertaining and engaging activities? Assess yourself and know your teaching style. 

  1. What are the 5 factors in lesson planning?

These are the five factors to consider in planning a lesson — Topic, allowed time, the strengths of your students, the background of your students, the level at which student are being taught.

And here they are. I hope that you find this article helpful and informative enough to let you crack that interview and land your dream ESL job.

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