Sunday, 4 July 2010

Step #4a - Passing the EPIK Telephone Interview

Probably one of the scariest parts of the whole EPIK application process is the telephone interview. Especially if you have absolutely no experience teaching, it can be a little nerve wracking to think about the fact that you may spend anywhere up to an hour on the phone talking about yourself and teaching. However, the good news is that the EPIK interview is based on standardised questions and apart from a few exceptions it is very likely that you will only get questions from the standardised list. I therefore present to you, the ultimate EPIK/SMOE question list!


  • Why do you want to teach in Korea?
  • How committed are you to working in Korea?
  • What do you know about Korean Culture/History?
  • What are the differences between Korean culture and US/European culture?
  • Do you know much about SMOE, Seoul, or Korea?
  • Tell us what you know about SMOE, Seoul, or Korea, please.
  • Are you well aware of the job you have applied for? And the working conditions?
  • What do you find the most attractive about this position? And what the least?
  • Why did you decide to seek a position in this field?
  • What have you heard about teaching in Seoul or Korea that you don't like?
  • What do you think will be the most difficult thing in staying in Seoul?
  • This is a very different situation than you've ever worked at. How do you feel about this?
  • What do you think is the least interesting thing of this job? How will you handle the least interesting or less pleasant tasks of the job?
  • What do you think will be the most difficult thing in teaching students who don't know any English?
  • Give us the three best reasons why we should hire you?
  • Why should we consider you a strong applicant for this position?
  • What/How do you think a good teacher should be?
  • How would you help a co-teacher who is too scared to talk English in class?
  • How would you manage a class of 30 students/large class numbers?
  • How would you engage students?
  • How would you get students to care about learning English?
  • What is your approach to teaching English?
  • What do you think about lesson planning?
  • How would you deal with a multi-level classroom?
  • How would you deal with discipline in class?
  • How would you deal with an uncooperative/absent co-teacher?
  • What if your Korean co-teacher told you to only do repeat after me exercises in class and wouldn't let you do anything else?
  • How would you deal with stress?
  • What are the problems you envisage in the classroom?
  • Discuss your lesson plan.


  • Describe what you feel to be an ideal working environment.
  • How long do you plan to stay with us?
  • Why haven't you found a new position before now? How long have you been looking for a job?
  • Tell me about the best/worst boss or colleague you've ever had?
  • Looking back on the experience now, do you think there was anything you could have done to improve your relationship with that one bad person?
  • What do you want to be doing 3-5 years from now?
  • What are your most important long-term goals?


  • What led you to select your major? Your minor?
  • What skills did you learn during your degree that would help you teaching?
  • Tell me about your University and your degree.
  • What skills did you learn from non-related work that will help you teaching?
  • Tell me about your references.
  • Tell me about your TESOL course.
  • Why don't I see any internships on your resume?
  • How do you generally handle conflict?
  • How do you behave when you're having a problem with a co-worker?
  • Suppose your supervisor left an assignment in your “in” box, then left town for a week. You can't reach him and you don't fully understand the assignment. What would you do?
  • Your supervisor tells you to do something in a way you know is dead wrong. What do you do?
  • Say you're asked to do something by the principal on very short notice. What would you do?
  • Recall a time from your work experience when your manager or supervisor was unavailable and a problem arose. What was the nature of the problem? How did you handle the situation? How did that make you feel?
  • Give examples of your experiences at school or in a job that were satisfying. Give examples of your experiences that were dissatisfying.


  • Are you in good health?
  • What do you do to stay in shape?
  • Do you have any physical problems that may limit your ability to perform the job?
  • What do you like to do when you're not at work?
  • If you could change one thing about your personality at the snap of a finger, what would it be? Why?
  • By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
  • Give me a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  • What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision.
  • We can sometimes identify a small problem and fix it before it becomes a major problem. Give an example of how you have done this.
  • Why did you choose the locations you did?
  • How flexible are you with teaching different levels?
  • What gets you stressed?
  • Tell me about your personality.
  • How much and how often do you drink each week?
  • What do you think about drugs?
  • How will you prepare to come to Korea?
  • How will you cope with being away from home?
  • How would you cope with sudden change?
  • Do you know what culture shock is?
  • How will you adapt/deal with culture shock?
  • It says on your application that you speak some Korean. Can you say something in Korean for me?


1) Prepare

The best thing to do before your interview is to go through the questions above and have an answer prepared for each question. Go over your answers a few times before the interview to make sure you know your stuff. Have a friend quiz you if you think this might help. If you do this, not a lot can go wrong.

2) Be confident and enthusiastic

The interviewer is interested in you as a person and what you may be like as a teacher. Try to show him or her that you are confident in your ability to teach (even if you haven't taught before) and show them that you are generally a congenial and enthusiastic person.

3) Be knowledgeable

You will probably get a few questions on why you chose Korea, what you like about Korea, why you chose the parts of Korea that you did, what you know about EPIK etc. Doing your research beforehand and finding out a little bit about EPIK and Korea will help you immensely in trying to answer these kinds of questions. If there is any aspect of Korea as a place, Korean culture/people or the EPIK program you find particularly interesting, mention this if the opportunity arises. Showing a genuine interest in the place and organisation you are planning to work in is never a bad thing!

4) Be flexible

One thing EPIK really likes is to see that it's candidates are flexible. This applies to location, deadlines, work etc., so do your best to show that you are someone who can adapt well to change.

5) Relax!

This interview is not the end of the world and the more relaxed you are going into it, the more likely you are to leave a good impression. Believe it or not the interviewer isn't there to make your life a living hell for an hour, they are there to find out who you are and what you are like. If you go into it with a positive mindset and you've done your preparations you really shouldn't need to worry!

Good luck! :)

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