EPIK Interview – How To Prepare for Your ESL Interview

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Securing a job as an ESL teacher, much like any other position or career requires a well drafted cover letter, perhaps a letter of interest, a honed resume and most importantly, a standout interview. With more and more qualified individuals interested in teaching English abroad, the ESL industry is experiencing a surplus of applicants. ESL teachers are finding that the landscape has changed in a sector that previously had little to no competition.

Proper planning and anticipation of certain questions can ensure that your phone interview will stand out above any other applicants that are vying for the same position.

Below are six great tips to consider when preparing for that phone call with EPIK or from any other agency or future ESL employer, for that matter:

Anticipate the Call

This may sound like a no brainer but it can be one of the most important parts of the phone call. Remember, the call from your school of interest is either going to occur well into the evening or very early in the morning due to time zone differences. Be ready to accommodate. Be online at least 15 minutes before your interview starts.

If you are currently working, try not to take this phone call while on the clock. Schedule about an hour to be away from distraction or any potential interruption. If you are on the phone with someone overseas, the delay between speech can be compounded with excessive noise in the background. Find a quiet place where you can focus on the interview and questions at hand.

Have your EPIK application form in front of you during the interview. Your interviewer will likely be referring to specific sections on your form.

Express Your Teaching Enthusiasm

Never miss an opportunity to show how passionate you are about teaching in their establishment. Equip yourself with specific examples of times you taught and felt you really made a connection with a student. Even if you have not had any previous teaching experience, be ready to supply a time when your knowledge of a subject was to the betterment of another.

It can also be a good idea to do some research into the school you are applying to. Do they have a really great afterschool art program? Perhaps you can mention how spectacular that looks. Have they been written about in a popular ESL magazine or website? Mention how exciting it would be to be a part of a school with such prestige. Don’t get too sappy, but lying down a little bit of flattery can be just the right tool to make you stand out in the employer’s mind when a decision is to be made later.

Don’t spend too much time talking about how much you want to travel. Schools want to hear about your enthusiasm for teaching, not for being a nomad.

Showcase Your Skills

In the same token as above, don’t miss an opportunity to tell the employer the skills you have learned in college or via TEFL course. Showcase your excellent lesson planning skills. Bring up the classes you took on grammar instruction and perhaps an example from your student teaching course (if applicable). This interview is all about you. It is your time to prove to the employer that you are the best candidate for the job.

Be Open to Changes

The ESL landscape is one that is constantly changing. Teachers come and go, positions open up and are filled again. If you are applying for a young learners teaching position but instead find yourself interviewing for an afterschool junior high course, go with it. Being open to change will increase your chances of being offered a position.

Speak Clearly and Precisely

Remember, that the person who will be interviewing you will generally not have English as their first language. Because of this, try your best to enunciate every word clearly. Avoid slang and any archaic words that you might think will make you standout.

It’s important to not speak too slowly as this can come off insulting so make sure you find the right medium. If it sounds like the person on the other end is having a difficult time understanding you, apologize and reword your answers. Use your best judgment at all times.’

Be Professional

Your interviewer will be conducting a video call. Dress to impress, be aware of your body language, and make sure that you’re in a place that has good lighting.

During your interview you can expect questions related to:

  • why you would be a good candidate for this position
  • teaching experience
  • classroom management
  • past travel experience
  • how you will adjust to life in Korea
  • how this job relates to your future goals
  • your knowledge about the EPIK program and South Korea
  • why you want to be a party of the EPIK program

Ask any questions that you may have towards the end of your interview, when it is appropriate. Relax, and be yourself!

Have you recently had an interview with an overseas employer and have a story to share about your experience? We’d love to hear your comments below.

After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education, Sean Lords packed up his bags and left to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master’s degree.

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