5 international job interview questions to expect

If you're applying for a job in an international school, there are some key questions that you can prepare for

Kate Jones

International schools: 5 teacher job interview questions to prepare for

If you are applying to teach internationally you need to prepare for the interview as best you can – as you would for any interview. However, to live and teach internationally is a major life change, so there are likely be some questions that you are asked for which your answers are watched especially closely – both on the personal and the pedagogical.

As such, being aware of the sort of questions that international school interview panels may ask you is important. Here are some that are likely to come your way – so be prepared.

International schools: Questions you're likely to be asked in teacher job interviews

1. Why do you want to work at this school?

This question is essential in an international context and your answer should focus on two elements: the school and the location.

Candidates can sometimes focus their answer on the country. This is important as it shows they have researched the country they want to live in and have a cultural awareness, but that simply isn’t enough. 

Candidates need to know about the school, too. If an answer focuses on moving to Dubai because of the weather, lifestyle and culture, that’s great but what about the school? Why that specific school? What do you know about the school? What appeals to you? Why does it stand out? Why do you think it would be the right school for you?

Those are questions to consider and prepare for – it helps to have your answers ready.

2. Can you describe, step by step, a typical lesson?

In the UK, the delivery of a lesson or a section of a lesson often takes place during the interview day, so it’s unlikely you would be asked this question.

However, a lesson observation simply can’t happen with an online interview. But the school will want to know about your classroom practice. As such, make sure you can describe a lesson in detail from beginning to end – and then explain why it went well.

And, of course, describe a lesson for the subject that you are applying for: if you are applying for a history position, the interviewer will want to hear about a history lesson, not a politics or geography lesson.

You should also explain how you would prepare for and deal with any potential behaviour issues or questions that may arise. 

3. What can you offer the school outside of your subject?

International schools pride themselves on the extracurricular provision they provide for their students.

All teachers are expected to run extracurricular clubs and events. This is not restricted to the PE department and the arts, as academic clubs are offered to students.

You can often find out what extracurricular clubs are already on offer that you could support, such as chess, debating and Model United Nations

Alternatively, if you have a particular interest, such as baking, sudoku, public speaking or anything technology-related, then you could suggest an idea for a new extracurricular initiative.

The two main points that you need to demonstrate are that you have skills and interests outside of the subject you teach and you are keen to support wider aspects of school life. 

4. What strategies do you use to support EAL learners?

Most international schools have a diverse student body – with both local students from the region and students from all corners of the globe.

This may or may not be something you have experience of within your current school. If you do, then be ready to share the strategies that you use and explain why they work.

If you haven’t had experience of working with many English as an additional language students, then read about this before the interview as it will be something that you will be expected to do if appointed. 

Either way, it’s important to be aware that EAL is something you will be asked about.

5. How would you deal with a safeguarding concern?

This question could be phrased differently but this is a compulsory question schools have to ask.

The answer can be brief, as you mainly need to show an awareness that all safeguarding must be reported as soon as possible to the child protection officer (CPO) or designated safeguarding lead (DSL).

There could be information available on the school website about its policy or you could request this in advance because this is a question not to be taken lightly or to get wrong in any context.

Different countries have different rules – and even laws – when it comes to safeguarding, so this is worth considering and researching prior to the interview so you can demonstrate an awareness of the specific requirements and laws in that region. 

Kate Jones is head of history at The British School Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi, and author of Love To Teach, Retrieval Practice and Retrieval Practice 2. She tweets @KateJones_teach

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