6 ways to stand out in an international job interview

Job interviews for international schools are often highly competitive - Paul Gardner offers some tips to give you an edge

Paul Gardner

How to ace your teacher job interview for an international school

If you’ve decided to make the move to work overseas and have your first job interviews coming up – or perhaps are considering it for next year – then you’ll want to know how to stand out from the crowd. After all, it’s a competitive market.

Of course, good qualifications and prior teaching experience will help, but sometimes it’s that something extra that swings an interview panel in making its selection decision.

How to ace your teacher job interview for an international school

As someone who has been in the interviewing position before, here are some things you should know about the process and how you can stand out as a candidate.

1. Adding value

The best international schools always pride themselves on offering much more than an academic education. As such, it's really important that you can show that you can offer something outside of the classroom, as well as being an outstanding practitioner inside of it.

For example, evidence of helping out in a drama production, coaching a sports team, running and organising clubs or taking an active involvement in the school house system go a long way at interview.

These don't have to be things that you have undertaken within a school environment. Many successful applicants are able to show how their hobbies and interests translate into a fun and interesting extracurricular activity.

2. Knowing me, knowing you

International schools tend to have a very well-defined vision and mission statements. They are also very good at promoting themselves on social media.

This offers two great ways to get to know a school and what it is all about long before you arrive for interview or log on to a Zoom call. While all schools put across the need for a holistic education, they also tend to brand themselves with a particular focus, such as strong academic performance, sporting excellence or sustainability.

As such, make sure you understand what the school is about by doing your research before the interview. Almost certainly, in the interview process, one of the questions will ask you about what you know about the school and demonstrating an awareness of this will almost certainly impress the panel.

3. Awareness of local culture and customs

It's also important to do some research on the local culture. Many international schools are situated in places that are very different from the UK and a strong cultural sensitivity is of absolute importance.

You don't need to know everything about the local culture but you do need to have an awareness of the need for cultural sensitivity. Wherever it is you are applying, a Google search should provide you with lots of information that you can use to inform your understanding of the region – which may be vital at interview.

4. How will you close the gap?

Similarly to the UK, international schools go through rigorous inspections on a fairly regular basis. If you are applying to a reputable school, it will likely be a member of either COBIS or BSO.

Membership to both of these organisations requires a visit from the inspectorate, which produces a report that highlights next steps for the school's development. For the bulk of schools, these are readily available on the school website.

However, if you're finding it difficult to locate this you can go direct to the source of COBIS or BSO.

It is worth taking a look at this and spending some time thinking about how you could support the school in its aims.

5. Academic excellence

International schools operate as independent businesses. Therefore, there is a strong need for you to demonstrate in your application how you would successfully contribute to the academic reputation of the school through your outstanding teaching and results.

If you can demonstrate a strong history of academic excellence, in particular at GCSE or A level, you need to make sure that you articulate this in the interview itself. Interviewers will be looking for what you did and how you did it, to make sure you are capable of repeating that in your new environment.

If you haven't had recent or relevant post-16 experience, the most important thing becomes how open you are to learning new skills.

6. Recent and relevant UK experience

Though you may not feel like it, the UK is at the forefront of pedagogical knowledge and practice.

As a result, international schools are very keen to take advantage of people's recent experiences within the UK and how these could be applied in their school.

Make sure to point out your recent training and implementation of initiatives, as this could well be what your potential new school is looking for.

For example, the recent push on the significance and role of the curriculum in UK schools has been largely missed by most international schools in recent years. Bringing in people from the UK with experience of this would be helpful for the majority of international schools.

And of course…

Most importantly, as with all interview processes, be yourself. It's vital that the school you choose is a good match for you and you feel comfortable with the team you will be joining.

Paul Gardner is secondary school deputy headteacher at DIS Dubai. He tweets at @DubaiDeputy

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Paul Gardner

Paul Gardner is Secondary School Deputy Head Teacher at DIS Dubai. He tweets at @DubaiDeputy

Find me on Twitter @DubaiDeputy

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