Sunday, 4 July 2010

Step #4 - Passing the Telephone Interview

In order to clinch the deal on any job contract in Korea, you will almost inevitably be asked to do a telephone interview. Depending on the institution, a telephone interview will last anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour. These interviews, however, are in most cases not something you should be overly worried about as long as you do some basic preparation. Much as I'd like to say that these telephone interviews are there to judge your actual suitability for the job, in most cases they actually seem to be more of a formality than anything. They just give schools an opportunity to form an impression of your character and your ability to speak English. If they like your voice and your attitude, the likelihood is you will get the job.

Note: I am going to subdivide this post into two: General Guidelines and EPIK Telephone Interviews. The reason for this is because the government run EPIK program telephone interviews are usually a lot more in depth than the average school telephone interviews and are also based on standardised questions, which is why I feel they deserve a post of their own.

Click here to view my post on EPIK telephone interviews.

General Guidelines

When you have a telephone interview, it is usual that the interview will be conducted by either the school director, school supervisor or a one of the native English speakers at the school. It will probably last 10-15 minutes and the questions asked tend to be quite basic.

Questions you may be asked are:

Why do you want to teach in Korea?
What do you know about Korea/Korean culture?
Describe yourself/ your character
What are your hobbies?
Have you worked with children before?
Do you have any teaching experience?
Describe your teaching philosophy/how you teach
What do you think makes you a good teacher?/ Why would you be a good teacher?
Do you have any relevant training/qualifications? (i.e. TEFL)
How will you deal with culture shock when you arrive in Korea?
Do you get home sick?
Have you lived abroad/ in Asia before?


1) Speak clearly

One of the things you should be aware of is that just because a senior member of staff may be interviewing you, it does not mean that their level of English will be anywhere near perfect. It is very possible that you will be interviewed by a person that really only has very basic English skills. This being the case, it is important to speak clearly and possibly slightly more slowly if you realise they don't speak English very well. Also, if you have a strong regional accent, you may want to try to neutralise it a little to make yourself more easily understood. Interviewers are trying to judge how effective your voice will be when teaching students, which is why they tend to prefer neutral accents that are easy to listen to and understand.

2) Sound Enthusiastic

The person interviewing you obviously wants to know that you are actually interested in teaching, so make sure to portray this when you speak. Show them that even if you haven't already got teaching experience, you are willing to learn and improve your skills in the future and that you are genuinely interested in working with students to improve their English abilities.

3) Highlight relevant experiences

Even if you don't have any actual relevant teaching experience, if you are asked, make sure to mention any experiences you may have had in the past that brought you in contact with children or a role similar to teaching. Baby sitting, helping out with younger siblings, working at a summer camp, working at an orphanage, being a part of a study group, managing a team etc. are all things that will count in your favour.

The most important thing when taking part in a phone interview is to listen carefully to the questions and answer them as best you can. Try not to be nervous and show the interviewer that you are in fact an open and adaptable person. It will be over before you know it! :)

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