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Mastering Your International Teaching Interview: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Feb 6

Interviewer at an international school

Embarking on a journey to teach in a foreign country is an exciting and transformative experience. As you prepare for your upcoming interview with a potential new school, it's crucial to equip yourself with the right tools and insights to make a lasting impression on the interviewer.

Here's a comprehensive guide, including additional tips for online interviews and specific questions you might encounter:

Research the School and Country Before Your International Teaching Interview

research the country you want to move to

Before your interview, delve into the heart of the school and the culture of the country. Understand the school's values, curriculum, and any unique characteristics. Likewise, familiarize yourself with the local culture and educational system of the country. At SA-Recruitment we place the majority of our teachers in regions across the Middle East like Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain,Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. We have some great articles about each of those places, go check them out and study up on their traditions, landscape and people. It is crucial to have gone through the relevant school's website before taking the interview as you will find interesting facts to talk about and your interviewer will appreciate this effort on your part.

Understand the Interview Format

Each international teaching interview is unique. Whether it's a panel interview, demo lesson, or a combination of both, knowing the format in advance will help you prepare effectively. Tailor your preparations to align with the specific requirements of the interview.

We will do our best to make sure you have an understanding of the interview format before the time, but be prepared for any eventuality. Some interviews don't go according to script, so make sure that you are ready to speak to your lesson plans or demonstrate them, even if it is not part of the "scheduled format".

Review Common Interview Questions

Anticipate the questions you're likely to encounter during your interview. Reflect on your teaching philosophy and formulate thoughtful, culturally sensitive responses. This preparation will showcase your readiness and commitment to the role. In the PDF resource we have linked at the end of this blog post we have included some of the most commonly asked questions and given indications for what the interviewer is looking for in the answer. Be sure to read through that document and mentally prepare your answers for each one of their questions.

Some common questions you may be asked:

  1. Can you tell us about your teaching philosophy and how it aligns with our school's mission and values?

  2. How do you differentiate your instruction to meet the diverse learning needs of students in your classroom?

  3. Describe a challenging classroom situation you have encountered and how you addressed it.

  4. What strategies do you use to foster positive parent-teacher communication and engagement?

  5. How do you integrate technology into your teaching, and how have you adapted to online or blended learning environments?

Highlight Cultural Awareness

A group if children in the Middle East

Emphasize your cultural awareness and understanding. Showcase your adaptability and openness to embracing new cultures, which are essential qualities for a successful international teaching experience.

You can highlight your cultural awareness in the following ways:

  • Conduct thorough research about the school and its community. Understand the cultural background of the students you may be teaching.

  • Familiarize yourself with the cultural diversity within the school and the broader community.

  • Highlight experiences where you've successfully adapted your teaching methods to meet the needs of diverse learners.

  • Share instances where you embraced change or modified your approach based on cultural nuances.

  • Discuss any previous experience working in multicultural or international settings. Share stories that illustrate your ability to connect with students from various cultural backgrounds.

  • Incorporate global perspectives into your lesson plans. This can include selecting diverse literature, discussing international current events, or integrating multicultural themes into your curriculum.

  • Share anecdotes that showcase your receptiveness to new ideas and perspectives.

By incorporating these elements into your interview responses, you can effectively showcase your cultural awareness. This will demonstrate your readiness to embrace and celebrate diversity in the classroom.

Demonstrate Cross-Cultural Communication Skills

Effectively communicate your teaching philosophy in a way that resonates with the school's values and cultural nuances. Highlight instances from your past experiences that demonstrate your ability to connect with diverse groups of students.

This point is very similar to the above point but has a critical focus on COMMUNICATION. Be sure to highlight any experiences you have of dealing with students that speak different languages or have difficulties understanding concepts in english.

Being able to work with students are second-language English is a vital skill when teaching at international schools.

Prepare for a Demo Lesson

SHOULD your interview include a demo lesson, invest time in crafting a dynamic and engaging session. Once again, consider the students' English proficiency levels and adapt the lesson to accommodate diverse learning styles.

The lesson does not need to be comprehensive or over the top. The main thing you are demonstrating here is that you know how to plan a lesson that is appropriate for the age group and that you are able to deliver that lesson plan. For these reasons it is ESSENTIAL that the lesson(s) you choose to prepare are lessons you are 100% confident in and comfortable teaching - now is not the time to try out something new!

Dress Code and Professionalism

Modest clothing example
Choose an outfit that is friendly and not "revealing"

First impressions matter. Research the expected dress code in the specific country and school, and ensure your attire reflects professionalism. Present yourself as someone who takes the role seriously and is dedicated to maintaining a high standard of professionalism. In general the international schools are a lot more "modern" than the countries they may be located in, but the people working at the schools and the interviewer may still have cultural associations with how a person should dress and behave. Make sure that you demonstrate your professionalism and respect for this by wearing modest clothing that looks smart and presentable.

No one expects a school teacher to be wearing a suit either, so don't go over the top. Just make sure your hair is neat, your clothes are not too revealing or audacious and that you don't look like you just rolled out of bed!

Ask Questions

Demonstrate your genuine interest in the school and community by preparing thoughtful questions. Inquire about the school's educational philosophy, community involvement, and expectations for teachers. This not only shows your interest but also helps you make an informed decision about the position.

Don't overwhelm the interviewer with questions, just one or two questions is perfect. In the PDF guide at the end of this blog we list a few useful questions to prepare.

Technology, Resources and tips for Online Interviews

  1. Please make sure you are online a few minutes before the scheduled interview time and make sure your status is ‘online’

  2. You will be nervous so have a glass of water nearby as your throat will get very dry (that’s Biology)

  3. It is important to come across as confident and enthusiastic – this is absolutely key as the school already knows you can do the job but they are using this interview to check your personality and your level of enthusiasm about potentially joining their school.

  4. Make sure your speakers are working and that you are comfortable with making and receiving a video call

  5. It is VERY important that the lighting is good for an online interview: if you are near a window sit facing the window so that the light falls on your face, put any lights on and make sure there are no shadows on your face.

  6. Please remember that the person interviewing you can see you so make sure that you are dressed appropriately, that there is (preferably) a blank wall behind you and that you will not be interrupted during the interview

  7. Keep your mobile with you, but on SILENT so that should the connection be problematic, the school can call you on your mobile to continue the interview should the video feed cause problems.

  8. Have a pen and paper handy so that you can make notes if necessary, and if you are given the opportunity to ask questions these should be readily available to you.

  9. Make sure that you do not refer to notes too often during this interview – you cannot read them a prepared answered (remember they can see you) but you can always have a few notes or “post its” stuck around the computer you are using as points of reference if you wish to.

Prepare a Lesson Plan for Questions about Teaching Style

The most crucial advice for international teaching interviews is to prepare a lesson plan for 1 or 2 lessons. This plan should include:

  • Outcome/learning objective

  • Content to be taught

  • Technology/visual aids to be used

  • Awareness of different ability levels and learning styles (differentiation)

  • Introduction, body, and conclusion

  • Classwork/group work activities

  • Assessment methods (on-going, graded, etc.)

  • Interaction with students

  • Be ready to discuss your experience in implementing differentiation, handling second language learners, and managing classroom discipline.

The handy PDF guide at the end of this blog will discuss this in more detail.

The Differentiation Question

The word DIFFERENTIATION is not commonly used in South Africa, but it is very familiar throughout the world. South African teachers tend to practise differentiation as part of their daily duties WITHOUT realising this is what they are doing... You MUST understand the concept of differentiation when preparing for an interview.

What it means is that in your classroom you have learners with different ability levels in the various subjects you teach and that this determines your planning, teaching style, how your classroom is set up, you make use of visual aides to assist your teaching, you use group work and co-operative learning effectively, classwork is structured and planned with definite time limits and graded outcomes and this all determines the pace at which you work with your class. You also realise and understand that the learners in your classes have different learning styles – kinetic, visual, auditory etc. and you try to differentiate your teaching style towards these various learning styles (what the school wants to hear is that you know what the word differentiation means and also how you account for this in your classroom) To create a differentiated lesson plan, teachers must prepare different methods of delivery and activities that will take place within the classroom simultaneously.

Dealing with Questions Around Discipline

"Share with me your classroom management methods (discipline)."

Do you have classroom rules? Positive encouragement and reinforcement is important. Star charts, reward charts, special privileges etc. Do you deal with children’s problems in the class immediately? You have the confidence to implement sanctions (consequences) if there is bad behaviour as the children know the consequences. You involve parents where appropriate – but follow the school’s policy. It is important that your methods are positive to encourage good behaviour but balanced with boundaries that the children understand and respect.

This question might also be asked in the form of a scenario… "how would you deal with... ”.

Downloadable "Interview Tips" Resource

We have a PDF resource with the most important take-aways and a few other concepts available for download in our "Teachers Resources Hub". We strongly recommend you download the PDF and familiarise yourself with all of the concepts.

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