I haven’t been following the timeline for the hopeful February 2017 intake, but it sounds like interviews are being conducted now. Here are some quick tips:
- TRIPLE CHECK YOUR INTERVIEW TIME. There were some people in our intake who missed their interview because they wrote down the time on the wrong date. They said their coordinator was able to reschedule but it is hard because they have so many interviews to get through.
- Have a PRINTED copy of your application in front of you. If you have information that needs to be changed, your coordinator will tell you. Write them on your copy so you’ll remember to fix them later, since it might be a bad impression to email your coordinator later asking about what changes you discussed. If you have any updates/corrections to bring up, have those marked as well and remember to discuss them (I forgot to share one of mine and sent a panicked email after the interview was over).
- Have headphones ready – and make sure they work. I brought two pairs of earbuds with me and neither worked with the laptop I was using! I had to run and grab a set of big clunky headphones with the attached microphone.
- Sign on to Skype early. Your coordinator will likely reach out to you 15-20 minutes before scheduled to confirm that you’re still meeting, and to advise you to have headphones.
- Don’t be signed on to Skype on multiple devices. I didn’t realize at the time, but I was signed in to Skype on my phone as well as my computer. The Skype call was sent to my phone, not the computer, so I missed it.
- Don’t turn off your phone (or put it on “do not disturb” mode) until you’ve successfully connected on your Skype call. When I missed the initial call, my coordinator called me on the phone. I had already changed the settings to forward all calls so we wouldn’t be interrupted – big mistake! I was frantically trying to call him back (which I couldn’t do because my phone wasn’t set up to make international calls) but I was able to call my coordinator back on Skype instead.
- Do your research beforehand. Interview questions, Korean culture, etc. Without going into specific questions, since you can find plenty of examples online, you should think about: why you want to teach in Korea specifically over all other countries, how you’ll adapt to the culture, and what challenges you expect to face (and how you’ll overcome them). Think also about what kind of teacher you want to be and how you’ll manage the classroom.
- Know the weaknesses in your lesson plan. Looking back, my lesson plan on teaching the months of the year was terrible and not at all doable in one class period. Fortunately my coordinator only asked me about one particular weakness of it – what would I do if students didn’t already know ordinal numbers (first month, second month, etc.)?
- Prepare for some curve ball questions. I researched questions in advance but none of that mattered. Where I felt the interview had gone terribly was because they were questions I had no way of preparing for. I won’t give too much away out of fairness, but I was asked a lot of hypothetical “what would you do if….” questions related to teaching, specifically in Korea.
- Have some questions prepared for the end. It shows genuine interest. I had questions written down but all of them were answered during the interview. I ended up asking, “What’s good advice for a new teacher, especially in Korea?”
Some final advice I’d add: get some sleep before the interview especially as it’ll likely be late at night in your local time, dress professionally from head to toe, look into the camera when you speak and down at the screen when you listen (Skype interview etiquette), and relax and be yourself. The interview as not as scary as I thought it would be, although it was very quick-paced. Honestly, I wasn’t confident in how my interview went and was sure I’d be looking at applying for hagwon jobs, but I passed!