Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Things you shouldn't do in a TEFL interview... if you're the interviewer!

If you're a teacher looking for a job, check out these great tips by the Online TEFL Training blog. I wholeheartedly agree with the author.

But what about the other side of the coin? There are things we should ban as interviewers, too, as hiring companies even. Here are a few suggestions based on my (admittedly very limited Brazilian) experience.

Language schools, please stop...


1. Refusing to say how much you pay.

There are language schools that have a standard hourly rate, but make the prospective teachers jump through all sorts of hoops before they are let in on that little secret. We're all busy people, so no reason to make professionals waste time (yours and theirs!) on your company's sometimes long and winding hiring process only to find out they can't accept your non-negotiable terms.

2. While we're at it, treating every new hire the same way. 

I was once interviewed by a school with different pay grades for teachers with classroom experience, CPE, CELTA or Trinity, B.A. in English, and so on, so forth. In short, they had a pay rise for whatever you could come up with to prove you were a dedicated professional! That would have been anybody's dream job, right? Except whatever I'd done before crossing their threshold wouldn't count....

So if you were a new hire, regardless of your professional experience and qualification, you were going to earn as much as that 18-year-old who had just come back from a year in London and thought she could earn a little extra to help put herself through law school. That makes some sense perhaps for a limited trial period, while the school is checking the new teacher out. But after a 3-month interval, you'd better pay what that teacher deserves. As Ms Doolittle would say in My Fair Lady, "If you're in love, show me!"

(In case you're curious, the initial hourly rate was US$8.5. To add insult to injury, the school charged more than US$400 per student per month. Of course I fled the premises and never looked back.)

But it's not all about money. Do experienced teachers with all those CV bells and whistles really need to undergo extensive training about the basics of language teaching? Really? And if you're nodding enthusiastically, are you sure you're not hiring the wrong kind of people?

3. Demanding that new hires attend unpaid pre-service training.

Need I say more?

Ok, I will. I'm all for pre-service training. From the outside, nobody knows how your school really works. Seize the opportunity to instill your company's values in the new hires and show them how you want things done. That'll save both company and employees a lot of problems in the future, so yay! 

But to make a Big Brother-like selection process for a whole month and not compensate people for their time, even if they are admitted in the end? That should be outlawed!

4. Interviewing teachers in poor English.

Please don't make basic English mistakes in the job ad or in the interview. Granted, as teachers, we're trained not to correct every single mistake, but it's your corporate image we're talking about here! You don't want new hires to think their future bosses know less than they should, do you? 

5. Silencing about what the job entails.

Is it just classroom and planning time? Do teachers have mandatory meetings to attend? Are there other duties teachers have to perform, such as admin or marketing tasks? State it outright. After you've made clear what you expect of them, if they sign that job contract, you'll never have to hear "not in my job description" complaints! Isn't that a dream come true?

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