Applying and interviewing for schools overseas can be daunting.
You face all the challenges of a domestic job hunt, plus the challenges of communicating with people in a different country.
But thousands of people complete the process every year and start the adventure of a lifetime, abroad.
The question is, how do you get the international teaching job interview, and with it, the job?
The process is not too difficult, as long as you meet the minimum requirements and understand where to look.
In our interview with Adrienne Waller, we discussed the steps she took that led her to interview for schools overseas.
While there are multiple paths that will lead you to teaching abroad, her insights suggested that there are four steps to consider:
- Selecting the Right Schools to Apply to
- Applying for a Position
- Interviewing for Schools Overseas
- Networking with Overseas Educators
Selecting the Right Schools to Apply To
There are thousands of schools around the world to apply to.
Before you even start applying, you should already have an idea about what you are looking for.
It’s a good idea to examine your core values to find the perfect fit for you.
Consider asking yourself questions like these:
- What is your ideal teaching style? Do you prefer project-based learning or a prebuilt curriculum?
- Do you want to have a lot of choices in your day-to-day life?
- What kind of community do you want to be involved in?
- Do you want to work at an older school where customs are established, or at a newer school, where you may have more freedom to try new things?
- Do you mind living in a country where internet access is blocked or limited?
- What freedoms are most important to you?
- What do you want to spend money on? Can you support your lifestyle in your chosen country?
- Do you want to easily be able to find products that you are used to?
- Do you want to take your skills gained overseas back home with you? Or do you want to stay abroad indefinitely?
You may not have an exact answer to any of these questions, and that’s ok. But it is a good idea to get your priorities somewhat in line before you start applying!
Working at a fast-paced training school in China will be a very different experience from being at an international school in the Cayman Islands.
Different locations will provide different experiences, and you should plan accordingly.
While you are searching for jobs, keep your values and priorities in mind.
Find out as much as you can about each position as it pertains to your preferences. You can even reach out and contact the school directly if you want more information.
Applying for a Position
When it comes to actually applying, there are multiple options available.
Many schools will include an email address attached to the job posting where you can reach out and apply directly.
For franchise schools, like EF, you may have to apply to the franchise, who will then fit you into one of their schools.
This means that with only one application, you could have an option to choose what country and city you want to work in.
This is a great way to meet a lot of high-quality potential employers.
In any case, you will commonly need to provide at least some of the following:
- Personal Statement (why you want to teach here)
- Cover Letter
- Certifications, if you have them
Also, many teachers find their jobs through networking with fellow educators.
This is more common for teachers who have been working abroad for some time, but you can do it for your first job, too.
Interviewing for Schools Overseas
If you’ve made it to the interview stage, congrats! That means your application was strong enough to move forward.
Interviews can serve many different purposes, and may come in stages.
But the point for them all is for the school to get to know you better, and for you to find out more about the school.
If you applied to a large franchise, they may start with a preliminary interview to assess where in the company you best fit.
There may also be a screening interview that just checks for basic conversational skills.
If you applied directly to a specific school, you might start off with an interview with the Director of Studies or Principal. In that case, you get right to the point.
In any case, international teaching job interviews are nothing to worry about. Most interviews are predictable and revolve around a small set of commonly asked questions.
Just be sure to be polite, maintain proper interview etiquette, and ask some good questions. Your interviewer mostly wants to make sure you are someone they would like to work with every day.
And interviewing isn’t just about qualifying for a job!
You should use your interview time to make sure you feel comfortable with the people you talk to and the role you will fill.
Networking is crucial for expats! It can help you get that job and build community.
Depending on where you are, living overseas can mean that there are fewer people with whom you can speak your language.
But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find expat communities where you are situated!
You can meet other fellow expatriates through your school, and even connect with them outside of work. That way you can find people with similar interests, whether that be cooking, reading, or Dungeons & Dragons.
Over time, people who teach abroad tend to build multiple connections, and this is how they find their next teaching job. There are many jobs that aren’t listed online and can only be found this way.
Of course, you can also network before you start your first teaching job.
At the minimum, you should connect with your interviewer and the director of your school. Then you will have an opportunity to connect with the people you will be working with.
It’s not unheard of to connect with the employees of a school before you commit to working with them.
This can be a powerful way to learn more about the working environment and whether or not it will be the right place for you.
You can connect with people on social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter.
Depending on the country, teachers may prefer one platform or another. For example, people in China almost exclusively use WeChat.
Interviewing for schools overseas
Ultimately, applying and interviewing for schools overseas is not that different from applying and interviewing for any other job.
But because teaching abroad implies a huge and sudden lifestyle shift, it does mean you should take it very seriously.
Before you begin applying, reflect and examine your own values and preferences.
Every school you work for and every country you live in will offer a unique set of experiences.
Once you’ve made a list of schools you want to apply to, simply gather the right documents, send them in, and hope for the best!
If and when you get an interview, treat it as a chance to get to know the school better.
And throughout your teaching abroad career, be sure to network with fellow educators.
There is a lot of newness ahead of you as you enter a job teaching English abroad, and your colleagues at work may even become some of your new friends.
Enjoy the process of learning and applying for this new stage of your life!