The Top 11 Common Interview Questions For Teaching English in China (And How to Answer Them Like a Pro!)

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Are you thinking about teaching English in China? There is a lot that goes on in your mind when getting ready for a job interview like making sure you come across confident and knowledgeable and trying to not be super nervous! So, you might be wondering what interview questions you will be asked and how to best prepare for them.

I’ve been through the process so let me get you started in the right direction!

You’ll find a list of the most common interview questions for teaching English in China and tips on how to answer them like a pro!

How to Prepare for Interview Questions for Teaching English in China

When you get to the point in the application process where you are invited for an interview, you are most likely going to be talking with the head principal or your director supervisor. Sometimes it’s both! For the purpose of this post, we’ll assume you are interviewing with the head principal.

Prepare for a teaching interview in China

1. Tell us about yourself.

This is your time to shine!

You can start by talking about some interests you have and include some details that make you unique but also think of how they connect with the job at hand.

For example, if you love to travel, you could mention how your travels have helped you develop a passion for working with people from different cultures.

You will also want to highlight your credentials to teach, so mention any degrees you’ve earned, certificates you have, and other experiences that relate to teaching.

These experiences can include anything from running a summer camp or working in a daycare to babysitting or tutoring after school.

2. Why do you want to teach English in China?

Let’s be honest, traveling the world and living abroad probably tops your list of wanting to teach English in China, but you might not want to say that right out in your interview. You do, however, want to stand out from all the other candidates!

Instead, do some research on China and find specific reasons why you would like to work there. You could talk about a desire to teach in China if that is a dream of yours.

Also, do some research about the school you are interviewing for and point out some aspects you like about the school such as the curriculum (if it’s posted) or how you agree with the mission of the school.

Talk about your passion for teaching, working with children, or that rewarding feeling when your students show progress in their English language learning journey!

Have you traveled abroad before Share your experience

3. Have you traveled abroad before? What was your experience like?

This interview question is looking to see if you can handle being away from home and living in a different culture. Remember the principal is looking for someone who is adaptable and able to quickly acclimate themselves to new situations.

Explain how you settle into a new place such as exploring the area or trying new foods at local restaurants.

Remember, you are signing a contract to teach English in China for 1, 2, or 3 years so they want to make sure you are able to live abroad extensively.

4. What is your teaching philosophy?

Your teaching philosophy is the important methods and strategies you think are important to teaching and learning. If you don’t know what your teaching philosophy is yet, don’t worry – the more you teach, the more you will refine your philosophy.

This question is looking to see if you are familiar with current teaching materials and methods. At this point, you want to mention teaching buzz words. If you have experience teaching, then use your experience to highlight some of your best teaching moments.

On the other hand, if you have minimal or no teaching experience, take a look at some buzz words below, research them, and begin to formulate your answer based on how you would teach in an actual classroom.

Here are some teaching buzz words to get you started:

  • remote learning
  • student-focused
  • standards-based learning
  • inclusion
  • socio-emotional learning
  • personalized learning

5. Do you have a TEFL certification?

At this point, the principal should know your credentials through the application and your resume. However, they might be asking just to confirm or have you elaborate.

For TEFL certification, make sure you have the necessary 120 hours of study needed to satisfy the requirements.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in education and 2 years of teaching experience, you actually don’t need a TEFL certification because you have enough credentials to be hired to teach English in China.

You can reiterate your teaching experiences such as student teaching or field experiences required for your initial teacher license.

Why do you want to teach English in China

6. What teaching experience do you have?

You might have briefly mentioned your desire to teach English abroad and possibly what sparked your passion for teaching, but this is the question you’ll want to expand on your teaching experience.

Talk about any formal or informal teaching experience you have. Consider some memorable teaching experiences with different age groups, teaching methodologies, and how long you were in that position.

If you can think of a specific teaching time and talk about how that increased your desire to teach more, that will definitely make you stand out.

If you don’t have any teaching experience, talk about other experiences where you had to lead a group of people and explain something to them. Be specific about how you used your natural affinity for teaching to help this group learn.

You can also gain experience in the waiting process by signing up to teach English online with companies like VIPkid, Cambly, or Preply and highlight this experience in your interview.

7. How do you deal with discipline issues with students whose first language isn’t English?

Classroom management is your best friend in the classroom to keep your classroom running smoothly and everyone safe. You may get this question straight out or you might get a scenario and be asked how you will handle the situation.

Before your interview, come up with a handful of rules for your classroom and how you will facilitate positive reinforcement.

You can also mention methods and strategies to make sure your classroom is managed. Some of these include a physical chart in your classroom, using online tools like ClassDojo, or whole group vs individualized classroom management methods (i.e. desk pets, filling the marble jar, etc.).

Be sure to take into consideration the ages of your students and class size as they impact how you will adjust your classroom management strategies. You might also want to mention teaching classroom rules with modeling and TPR, or total physical response.

Tell us about yourself ESL interview question

8. What are your key strengths and/or weaknesses?

Think of two or three of your strongest qualities that make you a good fit for teaching English in China.

For example, if you are applying to teach young learners, say how much experience you have with children in addition to specific strengths such as patience or creativity.

If you have taught abroad before, this would be a great time to highlight that experience as well.

You may also want to mention other strengths that teachers use in their daily routines such as organization, efficient lesson planning skills, timeliness, and more.

Next, think about a time when you struggled in your job or with a task. However, don’t focus on the weakness itself – rather, focus on how you overcame that obstacle.

For example, if you have difficulty staying organized, talk about how you started using a planner to help keep track of everything. You want to highlight how you took action to grow from your struggles.

9. How do you handle stress and criticism?

Moving abroad is a stressful process from packing your belongings to learning a new language. Add to that, culture shock, starting a new job, and kids who don’t speak English – it can be a lot!

When you’re asked this question, talk about how you would deal with stress and use specific examples like taking breaks, exercising, or meditating.

As a teacher, you will most likely always be observed and provided with feedback, this could be constructive criticism and/or positive reinforcement for your teaching strategies and methodology in the classroom.

Talk about how you would take constructive criticism in order to improve your teaching methods and grow professionally.

how do you work in a team

10. Tell me about a time you worked well in a team.

There is a high probability that you would be part of a professional learning team. This could be a group of grade-level teachers planning quarter themes for teaching or support teachers coming together to create a track for specific students.

However the teams will be composed, you will need to talk about how you work best in a group.

The principal will generally be looking for a good team player so you will want to talk about a time when you had to work with a group of people on a project and how you handled any conflicts that arose.

Did you take the lead role, or were you more of a support member? Are you visionary or more detailed oriented? Talk about how you contributed to the group and the results of your efforts after.

11. What is Your Motivation to be an ESL teacher?

The principal is looking for someone who is passionate about teaching and helping students learn. Genuinely talk about why you want to teach ESL.

You can mention points such as you enjoy working with people from different cultures and helping them improve their language skills, how you have traveled to many different countries and enjoyed learning about the local culture and customs, or a long-term calling to be a teacher.

Express yourself clearly and authentically and it will show through to the principal.

Skype or zoom interview tips

Questions to Ask at the End of Your Interview

At this point of the interview process, you might not want to get into specifics of the stipend or benefits as all of that will be explained to you once you are offered the position, which you would then start negotiating or asking for clarification.

The questions you’ll want to have for the principal at the end of your interview should show your interest in the school and desire to know more about it since you are also trying to figure out if this would be a good fit for you.

Here are a few questions you could ask:

  1. What support system do you have in place for new teachers coming to your school? What teaching resources do you have available for teachers?
  2. How do you measure performance or how do you provide feedback for your teachers?
  3. What English program or curriculum does your school currently use? Do you have English proficiency tests for ESL students?
  4. What does a typical day look like for an ESL teacher? Are there other duties outside of teaching ESL?

At the end here, thank the principal for their time and consideration in the interview to make sure you leave a good last impression.

how to build rapport over zoom or skype

Other Considerations When Interviewing to Teach English in China

How to Dress for Your Interview for Teaching English in China

Dressing professionally for your interview is very important. First, it’ll help you get into the mindset of being in an interview as you would face to face. You want the principal to take you seriously, so wearing more casual clothes like jeans or shorts may not portray your professionalism.

For men, it’s best to wear a dress shirt and tie with dress pants. You can also wear a suit if you have one. For women, choose a blouse or dress shirt with a skirt or slacks. You can also wear a blazer over your outfit.

How to Build Rapport Over Skype or Zoom in Your Interview for Teaching English in China

There can be awkward moments on Zoom, so you’ll want to prepare yourself for these moments. Usually, you’ll only be interviewing with just one person, so there isn’t a waiting period for everyone to jump on. Even still, you’ll want to be in the mindset of building rapport over video to express warmth.

Vanessa Van Edwards, a leading authority in communication and social skills, has amazing tips for being likable and getting beyond the awkward social niceties. She also has tips for looking good over Zoom or Skype.

Some of these tips include waving and smiling, showing the upper half of your body, coming prepared for some small talk, double-checking yourself in the video before going live, and more! Check out those Zoom tips here!

Common Interview questions and answers for teachers

How to Prepare for Your Video Introduction for Teaching English in China

Some schools might ask you to record a video introduction where you take 3-5 minutes to talk about your interest in wanting to teach English in China. Express your passion for teaching, working with students, or working in a different culture.

However you decided to teach English abroad, you’ll want to express your desire in a positive light.

Even though you may be asked in your follow-up interview, you’ll want to talk about your educational and teacher training background as well as any experience in teaching.

Think of this video as your time to shine, so talk about everything that makes you the best fit for this teaching position.

Final Thoughts on Interview Questions For Teaching English in China

Interviewing for any job is nerve-racking, but I hope these questions and answers will help prepare you for your interview to teach English in China!

If you have any questions or would like to share your own interview experience, please leave a comment below. Good luck in your job search!

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My Favorite Travel Tips + Resources

Here is a quick glance at all my go-to travel tips and resources that I use to plan every trip! For more information, check out my travel resources page.

  • Booking flights: I use Google Flights to check all routes and find the best flights. Then I compare them with Expedia (for reward points) and Skyscanner (for the lowest prices) before I book.
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  • Vaccines and Medications: Check the CDC website for updates on necessary vaccines to enter a country, including updates on Covid-19 and recommended places to visit. I recommend getting all the vaccines you need before you go!
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