When a headteacher of a school abroad is impressed with your initial job application, including your CV and cover letter, he or she will want to ask you further questions, not only about your teaching experience and achievements but also to see if your personality and educational ethos would be compatible with the school’s vision, its staff, its student body and, possibly, the culture of the country.
1. Be prepared for some camera work
If you’re applying to sought-after international schools that receive thousands of applications each year, you may have to provide some initial pre-interview responses. Using software such as Spark Hire, you’ll be asked to answer a set of predetermined questions that the headteacher will review.
These interview-type questions help to narrow down the candidates to a more manageable number.
You may also be invited to have an informal chat with the headteacher on Skype.
If that is successful, the majority of the time, the school abroad contacts the candidate to arrange a suitable day and time for a formal Skype interview. However, you could be asked to visit the school abroad for an interview, usually at your own expense.
2. Find out who is attending
The interview may be with one or two members of staff, such as the headteacher, deputy headteacher or head of department. You may have only one interview or you may have to undertake two or more with various members of staff, depending on the school. Find out who is going to be present during your interview and consider their likely requirements when working on your answers.
3. Do your research
Regardless of the interview format, similar questions tend to be asked. Some will most likely relate to your personality and others will relate to the school. Do as much research into your potential new home as you can. Study the school’s website and find out about the type of children that will most likely be your new students.
You should take some time to prepare your answers to these popular interview questions:
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What are the three most important characteristics an international teacher needs to have?
- What does your classroom look like?
- Why should we choose you over the rest of the candidates we’re interviewing?
- What skills can you bring to our school?
- What do you know about our school/philosophy/curriculum?
- Why do you want to work at our school?
4. Double-check the technology
Even though Skype interviews tend to be more convenient and slightly less stressful, you still need to make a great first impression. If your wi-fi cuts out or your microphone malfunctions during your big “this-is-why-I’m-perfect” monologue, you’ll be devastated. Ask a friend to carry out a practice Skype chat with you in preparation.
Here are a few things to consider before the interview:
- Decide on where to carry out the interview. Choose a well-lit, clean and tidy room with an excellent wi-fi signal.
- Double-check your internet connection, webcam and microphone.
- What is the time difference between you and the school? If you’re interviewing early in the morning or late at night, will other people be in your house, potentially disturbing you?
- Have a copy of your CV in sight, in case you have to refer to dates.
- Even though it is on Skype, it is a still formal and professional interview, so dress appropriately, sit up straight, maintain eye contact and avoid being too informal.
Interview preparation is key to minimising nerves, and having a successful and memorable interview that convinces the school abroad that you are the best fit for the job. It also illustrates that you are an organised and confident teacher, who would be a true asset to the school, staff and students.
Sorcha Coyle has taught at schools in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for the past six years. She also runs the Empowering Expat Teachers community, which can be found on her blog.
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