Teaching Abroad – In The Know Series (No.12) Special Edition: Q & A With ESLStarter.com

Hello, Digital Travellers!

So, for those of you who have been following this blog, you’ll well know that we have reached a critical juncture: ESL Interviews. Last week, I posted my musings from years of experience, offering what insights I felt fruitful for first timers (like I once was, of course). 

But, I can only do so much with a limited authority. That’s why I’ve called in the pros - our friends over at ESLStarter.com. They are, quite literally, the experts on ESL interviews—it’s what they do.

To gain a little more insight into this vital stage, I’ve put five questions to Phillip Negus—one of the key members of the ESLStarter.com team—to hopefully give first-timer wannabes that edge over other candidates in an increasingly competitive and saturated industry.

Here’s goes.

OK, Phil. Thanks for joining me and our Digital Traveller readership for our little Q&A in this week’s Teaching Abroad - In The Know series.

TD: First question. Everyone knows how crucial the interview can be in securing an ESL job. As an experienced recruiter with a portfolio that extends all over Asia, what do you think is the most important thing you look for in a candidate during an interview?

PNHi Tom, the main things we look for in our candidates are passion and positivity. As you know, teaching English abroad throws up all manner of interesting and exciting scenarios so we look for people who can adapt quickly and stay in a positive frame of mind.  

TD: Conversely, what, in your view, is the biggest candidate put-off or issue that might prevent you from recommending him or her to a client of yours?

PN: It’s difficult to point out any one thing as we always really appreciate the interest people have in our roles. We try to look for good attitude and ensure candidate expectations about the job are realistic. I think when you interview somebody and they are asking for more salary, better benefits etc.  before they have even been offered the role, this can sometimes be a red flag for us.

TD: You must have interviewed thousands of prospective teachers in the last decade—myself included. What do you think are the three vital qualities ESL hopefuls should possess?

PNYes, I’ve loved getting to know prospective teachers over the years. We look for enthusiasm, patience and communication skills in our candidates. As you know, patience is very important for this type of career!

TD: Last week, as you know, I talked about several items and questions that I think should be asked during an interview. What, in your opinion, are good questions for candidates to ask? What would make you impressed?

PNIt’s always a positive sign when candidates have researched about the role and ask relevant questions to the job. The interview is a great chance for the candidate to satisfy themselves that this position will also be a good fit for them. It’s great when candidates ask exactly what their role will be, what type of students they will be teaching, should they bring teaching resources etc.? I think these type of questions show a great attitude and that they are taking the application seriously.

TD: As a recruiter, you’ve got your finger on the pulse. Clients from all over the world brief you on the jobs they are seeking to fill in locations that range from the sandy-beaches of Thailand to the misty peaks of Nepal. Let our Digital Travellers in on a secret: Where is hot right now? Where would you go?

PNThat’s right, we’ve enjoyed working with people on their applications to teach in some very far flung places. South East Asia continues to be hugely popular, countries like Thailand and Vietnam. We are seeing more and more interest in China though of late. The demand for English teachers in China is skyrocketing and so it’s a great place to go if you are interested in experiencing a completely different culture within a booming economy. If I had my time teaching again, China would definitely top the list!

TD: OK, Phil, before we wrap-up: Do you have any other tips, thoughts, or suggestions for our readers?

PNIf you are thinking of taking the plunge and teaching abroad, it’s definitely a life-changing experience. You’ll be sure to meet lots of amazing people along the way! There is nothing better than getting to know a new country from within a local community and not just visiting as a tourist. The first step to this is usually the interview so my advice would be don’t be nervous, just be yourself and talk about why you want to do this and why you’d make a great teacher. As long as you are being true to yourself, the rest should fall into place!

OK, thanks for your time this week, Phil; I’m sure all our first-time hopefuls will feel better equipped going forward into those ESL Interviews.

And remember, Digital Travellers, if you need professional, expert help getting from where you are in Blightly, or the States or wherever else, check out ESLStarter.com.

Next week we’ll be looking at post-Interview correspondence, offers, and contracts. All important stuff, people.

See you next time.

Editorial: Thomas Dowling has worked in the ESL industry for over 7 years, having lived and worked in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Myanmar, Kuwait, and the UK. His work experience has included an international school, a university, private academies, and summer camps. Currently, Thomas is a full-time PhD Student studying Environmental Security at the University of Leicester. He has previously studied degrees in Ancient History (BA; MA: Bristol), and International Security Studies (MA: Leicester). In 2014, he earned his CELTA qualification (ITI: Istanbul, Turkey), complementing previous TEFL certificates acquired in England. Thomas is also the Co-Founder of The Digital Traveller, focusing upon content and content management. Thomas presently lives in Daegu, South Korea, with his wife, Jack Russell Terrier, and newborn baby, Zeno.

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