How to Prepare For Your TEFL / ESL / TESOL Interview

Interviews are a part of any job application process and interviewing for a job to teach English in China is no different.  To help make this experience as painless as possible, we are going to give you some pointers to help ace your interview.  During the interview process with TDE, you’ll have an initial call with our placement consultant, and then typically another interview or two with the school hiring manager.

Here are some helpful tips to prepare you for your online interviews:

Before the Interview

Initial Communication-  You will most likely have initial email correspondence with school hiring managers to set up a Skype interview. Most schools will want to have a Skype session just to get a look at who they will potentially be working with.  This will be a professional line of communication, so make sure your profile picture and any profile descriptions are something you don't mind a future employer seeing.  

Get Your Time Zones Straight- When interviewing for jobs abroad, remember to check your time zone and verify with the school to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding interview times.  You don’t want to miss your interview due to a simple time zone mistake.  

Interview Preparation- Look up the school and any information you may have received regarding the employer. Go over some sample questions and prepare answers to make sure you are ready.  Also, have some questions prepared to let the school know you are interested and engaged and also for your own benefit. 

Here are some questions that you may be asked:

Can you tell me about yourself?

Why are you interested in this company?

Why are you interested in teaching?

What is your greatest strength? 

What is your greatest weakness?

What are your hobbies? 

You will also most likely receive specific questions related to the job.  Even if you may be new to teaching, your interviewer will at least want to know how you think you may handle various situations and scenarios.  For example, the interviewer may ask you a question about how you would handle a student acting up in class. Even though you may not have direct experience with this, you can probably come up with ways in which you may handle the situation. If you can draw from direct experiences, that's even better!

Organize your surroundings- For a Skype interview, you’ll want to be in a quiet place where you can easily hear and concentrate on the interview.  Coffee shops are not a good idea for Skype interviews, as they can be distracting.  Also, pay attention to your background and surroundings. Straighten up the room and make sure that anything visible looks nice and presentable.  

Lighting- Make sure you will be in a well-lit area.  Due to time zones, you may be interviewing at night, but you don’t want to appear to live like a vampire.  Turn on the lights! 

Dress- No matter when and where you are interviewing, you want to look your best.  You don't necessarily need to throw on a nice suit for a Skype interview, but at least put on a nice top and not your old worn out T-shirt. Impressions count, so make sure you put your best foot forward. 

During the Interview

Smile- This is just a good tip for life.  Smiling makes you feel more confident and it will show the interviewer that you are engaged and enjoying yourself. No matter how nervous or unexcited you may be about an interview, smiling sends a message to your brain that you are having a good time. Forcing yourself to smile will signal to the interviewer that you are excited about this new position and opportunity.

Ask Questions- Asking questions lets the interviewer know that you are being thoughtful about this position and helps create a dialogue instead of a one-sided interview.  You are free to ask them questions just as much as they ask you questions. This is also your chance to interview them.  

Demeanor- It’s tempting to say “act natural” but we all know that is easier said than done. The main thing you want to come across in the interview is your enthusiasm and excitement for the job.  The easiest way to achieve this is to think about the positive aspects of why you want to do this.  Looking forward to moving abroad and living in an exciting culture?  Love working with kids? Enjoy helping others learn?  Whatever it is that excites you about making a move abroad, it’s helpful to express that enthusiasm in your interview. If you aren’t excited about making a big move across the world to China, then it is probably best to consider other options! 

Post interview

Follow up- It’s customary to send out a thank you to your interviewer.  You can do this via email and use it as an opportunity to bring up bits of your conversation to remind them who you are and allow your interview to stand out among the many that the HR manager may have.  


At the end of the day, an interview is just a chance to see if the position and the candidate are a good match.  It's not always fun, but it's necessary to find the right fit for both the teacher and school. Just remember to stay positive and enjoy the process.  After all of the interviews, you will be rewarded with an amazing experience abroad!