I had to turn down an interview

Since I arrived in Ireland last May, I’ve applied for countless jobs. Even when I started my course I continued to apply. I haven’t heard back from any of them which is disappointing, so I was surprised when I received an email from a company in Dublin which I applied for a few days ago.

I actually forgot I applied to them and I was wracking my head thinking about it. There was a similar job I applied for and I thought it was that one but with a different company, which I thought ‘Sure why would they change their name thats a bit strange.’ I researched further and I finally found the position!

It was for a company in Dublin which gives TEFL courses and sends teachers all around the world to teach English, so it was exactly like the internship that I first did with a company in 2013. It was a ‘Student Services Advisor’ to the students that would head off to other countries then and teach for a semester. For once I actually felt I had all what they wanted, plus I also had experience doing those online TEFL courses and I, myself went to China with an internship company.

So I got a phone call during college yesterday and I didn’t answer because the number was from Wales! I thought ‘No way I’m not answering that, I don’t know anyone from there and I’m pretty sure it’s a scam.’

So I let it ring out.

Then later I saw on WhatsApp that I got a message from Indeed saying I have a message. I thought ‘God that’s weird, I NEVER get these.’ So I clicked into it and I found that it was an employer from the company explaining that they tried to ring but there was no answer (oops) and that they want to set up an interview for me.


Did I just read that right??

An. Interview….

Well, this is definitely new to me!

They asked if I could give them a ring to organise it so I rang later that day. The man wasn’t there but he would ring me tomorrow.

I wanted to ask him when the job would start, because I wouldn’t finish my college course until May, and this job was permanent and full time, so I was pretty sure they would be hiring before that date.

So he rang me and I asked him when the position would start, and unfortunately it was starting in February.

So I explained to him that I have college until May so I don’t think I would be able to go for an interview. (The interview was in Dublin and I would have had to spend the day there and miss college) I explained how grateful I was and if they would be hiring in the summer. He replied that he doesn’t know yet but he would keep my CV because he said I have the necessary experience needed for the job. He was very nice and he understood that I couldn’t leave college right now.

I emailed to thank him again, because I really am grateful for even considering me! I never heard anything from any other jobs, and this one was the only one that considered me. I’m grateful for even that.

And it was a job that I would have liked, and from what I saw I actually have experience, for once!

It is a shame but sure I suppose I just can’t leave college at the moment; I only have just over 3 months left, I’m putting the effort in and I want to get my cert at the end of it. I hope that they will have another opening in the future, but I’m happy that they saw something in me.

I always thought my time in China was a waste; I don’t get any replies from any job I apply for, not even from Starbucks or an assistant for a pharmacy. But this interview offer made me realise that at least for that company I actually did have the relevant experience.


What to expect in a TEFL interview.

TEFLAt the moment, there are hordes of job advertisings for TEFL teachers in Chengdu. Because the new semester started in March, many public and private schools are desperately looking for English teachers. If you know what type of school you want to work for, full or part time, and where in China you want to work at, now is the time for applying for a job.

If you are not in China but hoping to get a job, as you probably know, many employers will have a Skype interview. First they will ask you to send them your degree cert, you’re CV or resume and other TEFL related things, like a TEFL cert. Most employers prefer people with a TEFL certificate, but you can easily get jobs without one. But it is an advantage.

Also, being a native speaker is another plus, but if you are a non-native but have good English then you’ll be fine. Although some employers specifically only want natives speakers… oh and to be more picky, they have this idealised teacher who is white, blonde hair and beautiful. This to them, and to other Chinese people, is the ‘perfect’ foreign teacher.

After that, they will contact you for a Skype interview. In the interview you will be asked about yourself, if you like children, about classroom management (how would you deal with a rowdy student), how you would teach a certain topic, how would you give a lesson, if you have experience teaching English phonics,if you have an idea about teaching English grammar, and if you have any prior teaching experience.

In my case with my recent job interview, they asked me if I taught phonics before. My answer was simply no. I told them that I didn’t teach it much with my students because A; I’m not sure of the phonics myself, and B; I didn’t actually know where to begin with teaching it. I told the truth, simply because if I did tell them and if they tested me then I wouldn’t have a clue! The employer wont think any less of you if you cant do something, because at the end of the day you can learn this stuff.

An important question is about classroom management. How to deal with difficult students. This is important, as if you can’t control a classroom then nothing is going to get done. I still struggle with this, but different things work with different students. Rafa has found out that bribing a student with 1 jiao ( a tiny amount of money) works with one of his students. Others have found bribing them with sweets, stickers and balloons. But the employer wants to know that you can be strict with the students.

Another point about tefl teaching is personality. I’ve met one guy and his personality was well, not exactly suited to teaching. He was shy, didn’t speak much, and was very introverted. Unsurprisingly he quit teaching after a few weeks. With teaching, you need to be active, energised, motivated and confident with the kids. If you can’t be these things, then teaching isn’t for you. The students will complain that the class is boring, thus the parents will complain that their child is bored in class. So, in the interview you have to portray yourself as being fun, you can play loads of games, like teaching children, but can also be strict in class.

After the interview they will most likely set up a demo class for you. This is only if you’re already in China of course. Usually it’s just the employers in the classroom and yourself. With mine there were three people. They will give you the age of the students, maybe a topic you have to prepare for, and the duration of the demo. In my demo class, they gave me a book and I had a few minutes to prepare something short from a choice of two topics.

Each company may want you to focus on something that they specifically want; to focus on reading, writing, listening or speaking. Usually, because you are a foreigner they want you to practise listening and speaking. To me, this is easier to teach than reading and writing.

In the demo, they will be looking at your teaching style; if you prefer to move about with the kids or if you prefer to sit more with them. They’ll be looking at your personality, how you react with them, how you can manage the class. How you approach teaching a topic and what games you would play to help the kids with retention.

During it, they might throw some curveballs at you. in mine, we were playing a game and the lady said ‘I like apple’. After the game, I explained to her about plurals and gave examples. The man then asked me whats the difference between a flat and a house, so I had to explain in simple terms the difference and by drawing on the board. So they may do that to trick you.

Once it’s over, they might have a short discussion with you about your performance and what they liked and disliked.

Thats basically it. Because they’re so many foreign people in Chengdu, a lot of people will be looking for jobs. But because there are loads of students and schools needing teachers, there is still a good chance of getting job.

So in a nutshell, for a TEFL interview:

You need to be friendly, like working with children and active.

Preferably have TEFL experience already.

Know how to manage a classroom and students.

Have games that are entertaining for children.

Able to convey a point for students to understand clearly.

Can correct mistakes.

Good Luck!


My Job Interview.

I was searching through GoChengdoo; a website based on Chengdu. You can buy and sell things, you can see what events are on, and search for jobs. I found a job that was pretty near to where I live now so I decided to contact them.

So I got a call from them and had a chat, me not knowing that this was in fact the first stage of the interview process. He then text me asking for an interview. So I met them, arriving ridiculously early because I wasn’t sure how long it would take me. But, rather be too early than too late I suppose. So the interview went well, and they showed me around the place.

After a few days, I get another text asking for a demo! I thought ‘god, this is a long interview process.’ So today I had the demo and thankfully it turned out quite well!

As everyone is, I was a little nervous. They gave me a book and gave me a few minutes to prepare a demo class, of just 15 minutes, so that was easy. I just treated them as any other student, playing games with them and teaching new vocab. After the time was up we discussed the demo.

I was so surprised that they really enjoyed it. They interviewed a lot of people and saw a lot of demos, but apparently mine was the best. I was shocked! Me? All I did was play some games with them. I like to be more interactive in my teaching and not having them sit down for the entire 45 minutes.

I remember going for my first demo interview. It was after I was finished my internship and I was looking for a new job for when I came back from Ireland. I remember I didn’t know what to do in the demo. I remember making silly mistakes and generally, not knowing how to teach! Of course I taught older students before that, but It’s totally different when you’re teaching young children and there are not 50 in the class. I remember one man from a company saying to me ‘Some things need touching up on, but there is potential.’ I’ll never forget when he said that! I of course was happy. Potential? I have potential!

So after a year of teaching younger children, I was much more prepared this time. From back then, I’ve actually learned quite a lot. And that, you know, I’m an alright teacher.

They said I will hear back from them soon about it, but just the fact that I did a good job and they liked it made me a bit more confident in my teaching skills. For me, one of the most important thing is to make the student feel comfortable. I must admit I’m quite good at making students at ease in the classroom. Making them like you helps the class go better. If they don’t like you, you’ll know. . . and they’ll MAKE you know.

So from this morning of being quiet and withdrawn, thinking about this demo interview, to coming out the other side feeling proud of myself that I did a good job is good enough for me. Even If I don’t get the job, I know that I can do demo interviews ok and I can perform ok.

But… I’ll still wait for that phone call.