Interview questions for English teachers

Interview questions for English teachers

If you consider getting a lucrative offer as an English teacher, you must prove that you deserve decent work conditions and high salary. On the one hand, interview is a way to impress recruiters showing your strengths and accomplishments. On the other hand, without proper preparation it's likely to fail even simple questions like: tell us about yourself; and, why you want this position. Interview helps recruiters identify not only a candidate's strengths but also weaknesses of English teachers. It is vital to be honest rather than perfect. Nobody is perfect. And the more sincere your replies, the better impression you make at a job interview.

Sometimes, even having qualification and huge work experience isn't enough to get a job. What's the point to hire a professional who doesn't have some personal traits, which so important for teachers? So, this article will help you not only make a good first impression on potential employers but also be honest and confident. Keep reading to be ready to answer any tricky interview questions.

What 3 qualities define a good teacher?

This question is supposed to make teachers be honest about their work. If you think that it's a chance to demonstrate your best qualities and talk about yourself, you are wrong. It's tricky because recruiters are waiting from candidates words about their students rather than about themselves. So, don't hurry up to list good qualities, complete your ideas with examples on how such qualities help students in learning English.

So, instead of saying: "I think a good ESL teacher must be patient, positive, and organized."; say something that shows you care about your students. For example: "I suppose that a good teacher must be patient to help students understand a topic through different approaches, positive, to make people get a kick out of lessons, and organized to lead students to the effective result."

Course for English teachers

What is your golden rule in the classroom?

There are two ways to answer, you can pick that you really use in your practice, it might be either about pedagogy or about discipline. So, if you work with kids, probably, you have faced some difficulties with their emotions and reactions during lessons. So, in that case, a golden rule may sound like: "If you want to say something important, raise your hand. We don't interrupt each other."

However, if you work with adults, there is another way to consider. The older people get, the more fears they have. The most common one is making mistakes, especially in public. So, your classroom golden rule may be: "There aren't wrong answers. Say what you think."

What steps do you take to help a student with struggles?

It is supposed to check your teaching style and ability to handle difficult situations in a class. You should consider your reply carefully, because of two things. If there is one student who doesn't understand a concept, but you have a class full of other people, it isn't a perfect way to spend much time on explaining things to the only person. In that case, it's better to devote some time to explanations beyond the class.

But if it's about private lessons, you should identify what your student has already understood, and where he has lost. Find some blind spots of your student and explain things in different ways using additional materials like pictures, gestures, timelines, and so on.

How do you use technology teaching English?

Movie with english subtitles

It's a way how interviewers check your ability to use technology. As people are into the Internet and applications, it has become one of teaching methods how to engage them in learning process. However, there is a subtle boundary in order not to overuse the meaning of technology at ESL lessons. You may say how important to accompany lessons with gadgets or the Internet.

It's better to provide a real example from your experience. Remember an assignment, when students were supposed to practice some receptive or productive skills while they were posting something on social media or watching an original movie. Maybe it was a post in English after reading an article, or writing a review on an English movie.

What do you do to improve students' speaking skills?

Asking something like that, recruiters want to check your methodology to teach speaking. We know that doing exercises in a coursebook won't lead to a fluent speech, so tell about your features or working strategies to make even shy students speak in class. It's also better to provide a real example from your previous experience. However, if you don't have it, just say what techniques you consider effective.

For example:

  • debates;
  • interviewing a favorite author/singer/actor;
  • retelling movies;
  • paraphrasing;
  • controversial questions.

How do you motivate your students?

Motivation is one of the keys to succeed in learning foreign languages. It's important to remind it not only teachers but also students. Studying is never simple, so everybody has ups and downs during this process. However, a goal can make it more achievable and easier. You should know your students' goals. Sometimes you can organize something like a map to remind students where they are going to, and how much time it takes.

Additional factors as encouragement and praise work too. Working with children, you should reward students for efforts with stickers or other small tangible things. Having classes with adults means you should provide them with a positive but honest feedback. Even grown-ups love compliments.

What challenges in a classroom have you faced?

As we mentioned, employers want to hire an honest and diligent candidate rather than perfect. It's better to fess up a mishap and explain what you have learned from it, or how you handled it. Everybody makes mistakes, even ESL teachers. There isn't anything wrong about it. You may recall some examples from your practice and tell about them.

For instance, "There was a girl in my previous class, who always distracted other students and didn't listen to me in class. It complicated the discipline in a classб and I couldn't teach in a way I planned. So, I've decided to talk to her as grown-ups despite she was 11. I was sincerely interested in her problems, and asked why she disturbed discipline. As soon as I got that she lacked of attention at home and school, I started to involve her in lessons more. Soon, she became a diligent student, who always raised a hand to answer in class."

Teaching can be stressful. How do you manage the stress from this profession?

Teacher stress

It comes with no surprise that teaching is energy-consuming for English language teachers. That's why interviewers really want to know how you stay calm and patient when something goes wrong. Because everybody has bad days. Also, it's your chance to show yourself as an interesting person, who has other hobbies except teaching English. Just be honest and tell how you recharge your batteries.

There are possible ideas:

  • spending time with family;
  • hiking;
  • traveling;
  • reading books;
  • listening to music;
  • playing board games;
  • drawing;
  • sport.

How do you engage the students in class?

Your resume might be perfect, but recruiters want to check whether you really know what you do. It's up to you what to say. You may list some techniques you use in class and explain how each of them allows you to involve students in activities. Or, as usual, you can provide a plan from your experience. Tell what exercises you used and how they helped make students interested.

Don't forget to mention that you always take into account such factors as age of students. It's really important to understand what interests they have. Because stickers and singing songs are good for kids, but not for teens. You must be on the same wavelength with them.

Why did you leave your previous job?

Regardless of the real reason of why you left your previous position, mention only positive aspects. It's better to hide negative emotions and discontent about last work conditions, show how grateful you are for such experience.

For example, "I really appreciate the opportunity that the school gave me. Despite I was teaching children there, they taught me some important things too. However, I understood it was time to go further. I have always been thinking about working with adults. And now, I feel that I'm ready."

Tell me about yourself

Asking such question, managers don't want to hear about your favorite color and pet. They want to understand that your skills, interests, and a way of thinking fits the bill of the position. As usual, instead of saying about yourself, mention how your personality and qualities are relevant to teaching.

For instance:

  • I'm an active person, so I spent last summer volunteering in Cambodia.
  • I love watching movies, so I often pick the most popular scenes for my class and assign to voice them.
  • I love listening to music, and give my students some popular songs to help them remember new grammar or vocabulary better.

Why do you want to be a teacher?

English teacher love teaching

Another question that a lot of unprepared teachers fail. Schools want to hire conscientious staff, so it's important to understand what motivates you to work here. It's highly unlikely to get a job saying: "I just want to work abroad and earn much money." In that case, employers understand that you don't care where to work at all.

Even if you are into making money, show your personal traits first. Explain, what teaching means for you, or how you love helping people. Having high English level, chances are you love the language you speak. Be honest and kind.

What’s the best way to teach English?

Even if it seems to be a simple question, it is not. This is a way to check how open-minded you are. It's almost the same as: "What is the best way to learn English — as quickly as possible." It is likely, you've been asked it for many times. Have you found a magic pill? Can you recommend the only way to learn English? Of course not.

This is exact strategy you need to follow answering such question. Mention some approaches that help you to teach, but highlight that making people interested in a foreign language is the most important thing in teaching.

Do you have any questions for us?

Don't be afraid of this part of the interview. It's not about politeness, interviewers really want to know whether you are interested in a job and how much. Having no questions for an employer, you show you either you know nothing about the company or you have found no time to think of it. Ask all relevant questions that may play important role in making a decision.

Some factors you may clarify:

  • schedule,
  • paid vacation and holidays;
  • medical insurance;
  • accommodation;
  • culture;
  • school golden rule and mission;
  • possible ways of professional development.


Apparently, your answers at the interview can make a good first impression on a potential employer. But what can boost your confidence and competence is having education in teaching under your belt. Being certified ESL teacher you know how to answer many tricky questions, because such course as TEFL/TESOL has already prepared you to such possible situations in class.

English teacher job interview

TEFL/TESOL certification is an official document you get as soon as you finish the course. It's enough to prove that you have all necessary knowledge about teaching English and making contact with students of different ages.

During online TEFL/TESOL course you will learn:

  • how to make lesson plans;
  • classroom management;
  • how to give feedback and motivate students;
  • what to do in difficult situations;
  • how to use technology.

Online studying lets you control a pace of learning new information, so you can get the certificate in a couple of weeks or months. It's the first step to start your teaching career overseas. This certificate will make you a perfect candidate for any school around the globe. Now you can purchase it with a 50% discount.

Which question does seem to be the trickiest for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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