10 Important questions to ask When Interviewing for a TEFL Job

When you begin the process of interviewing for a TEFL job it can be very overwhelming. If you have the credentials to be a teach abroad, recruiters and companies will be quick to offer positions at their schools. Promising round-trip airfare, good hours, pay, benefits and all the standard teaching fare. When interviewing for a TEFL job it can be difficult to get a realistic handle on the position, as well as the atmosphere and set up of school. These details are often not included in the jobs description and can be especially difficult to gauge when you’re interviewing in another country. Because of this special circumstance, it makes the interview process SO important for asking the right questions to make sure you get a realistic and solid idea about the position and the school before accepting the job. As I have said before in many other posts, your experience teaching abroad really depends on the school and company you work in. If you land a good EFL school that meets your needs and expectations (within reason) it will help ensure a positive and more fulfilling experience. Click To Tweet

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I have seen so many people move abroad to teach EFL only to arrive and find out they have signed to a horrible school that doesn’t pay them on time, treats their teachers horribly or doesn’t fulfill the contract requirements (end of year bonus, vacation etc.). I’m not saying this to scare you, I’m telling you this because it makes it that much more important to do your research about the school you are interviewing to find out what you’re getting yourself into! If you have this information BEFORE interviewing for a TEFL job, it can potentially help you avoid ending up in the wrong school!

To ensure that you make the best decision about what job to take you want to do the following:
  1. Ask the right questions to get as much information about your job and the school during the interview process.
  2. Look up the school on the internet to see if they have received any negative or positive feedback.
  3. Join groups on FB from the country you are applying to and post to the groups about the school and area to get feedback from people living and working there.
  4. Ask the school if they can put you in touch with a teacher who is already working there so you can ask them questions about the work environment and lifestyle (email or Skype, whatever the teacher prefers).

In this post, I’m going to focus specifically on # 1 – the right questions to ask during the interview process. (Don’t worry there will be more to come on the other 3 points! Stay with me!)

Questions you need to ask during the interview

  1. How many hours a week/day will I be expected to work? (If they say in the job description 2-9pm, or 9-5pm make sure to have them confirm that time, and what you will be doing during it!)
  2. Will I be expected to work any extra hours? (IF YES)Interviewing for a TEFL Job, job interview, teach abroad, interview tips, EFL job interview
    • What circumstance will this be?
    • How often can I expect this to happen?
    • How will I be compensated?
  3. How many teachers will I be working with? (Foreign/Native teachers)
  4. Is there a set curriculum I will be expected to teach?
    • IF THE ANSWER IS YES – Can I use the supplementary materials (handouts, games or activities)?
    • IF THE ANSWER IS NO – What kind of books/materials will be available to use for preparing for classes?
  5. If I need to prep for classes, how much prep time do I have? Will I be paid for prep time? (You want to make sure you have enough prep time and are compensated for the time you are expected to prepare for lessons).
  6. What kinds of resources are available at the school for teaching? (i.e. computers, Ipads, television, internet etc.)?
  7. What are the class sizes and levels (beginner, advanced)?
  8. How long are the classes, and how many classes will I be teaching per day?
  9. Are there any professional development opportunities or team building activities put on by the school?
  10. What kind of expectations do you have for the English teachers working at your school? (Again this answer will give you an idea of the school’s professionalism and whether they have unrealistic expectations)

One more time……Why is it important to ask these questions?

You might have noticed that a lot of these questions are very specific about class times and work expectations. This is because some schools may expect or require you to prepare for your classes outside of your working hours. You want to make sure that you are working WITHIN the hours that are outlined in the contract or are reimbursed for any extra classes, meetings, activities or preparation that is required. This is a common issue for teachers where schools expect them to do more without pay, or to do more than what was originally outlined with pay, but have no time for anything else. Asking these questions will help you to find out about these possible surprises and make a more informed decision.

Furthermore, asking these questions when interviewing for a TEFL job will provide you more information about what you will be expected to do as a teacher on a daily basis. The questions will also give you insight into the school itself and the level of professionalism, depending on how they answer the questions (especially if they can’t or won’t answer them). A lot of companies may not be forthcoming with this information for a number of reasons, so being prepared with specific questions about the job will help you get the information you need.

For example, a school that has a set curriculum, teacher-training with monthly testing and professional development sessions shows a more professional working environment. Whereas a school that only provides a book with more planning and prep-time required of the teacher should give proper compensation and prep time.

Don’t just settle for any teaching position! There are a lot of TEFL jobs out there to choose from, so take your time and set realistic expectations. Asking the right questions will help!

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If you have any questions about teaching or living abroad please reach out to me it is my goal to help you make the best decisions to have the best experience living and teaching abroad! You can contact me on my contact page HERE. OR you can always contact and follow me on Facebook for daily updates on teaching positions, teaching resources and tips and advice for living abroad. 

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Are there any other questions you would add to this list based on your own experience? Comment Below!




Welcome to the Unconventional Life Blog! I'm Eliza a professional English Langauge teacher living an international life. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about teaching English, working and living abroad.


  1. I know of some native teachers who ended up with delayed salaries here. That’s sad. You’re right in laying down some of these realities because they do happen. Just recently, one teacher went home leaving/trusting to a colleague money that the school he worked for still owes him. So, yes, it is very important to know details of the work conditions before signing up. and even while working here, the employee should also check if the employer is diligent to the contract.

    • Of course! It is so important to reach out in forums to get feedback on specific schools if you can. Because there are so many other problems that could arise with the school! It’s important to know about these possible issues before going over so you can try to avoid them by doing your research and asking the right questions! I’m so sorry about your friend’s situation! I’ve heard of a few others too who have been fired a week before their contract ends to avoid paying out their contract. So yes you need to make sure they are diligent with the contract.

  2. Yes, having the opportunity to talk to another native teacher from the same school is always ideal but isn’t always available. That’s why research and EFL forums are great places to start. When I first arrived in Korea, I couldn’t find a thing about the Kindergarden I was going to work at. Luckily, it worked out great and was perfect fit for me. Unfortunately a year later at their sister school, I wasn’t so lucky and wasn’t compensated for the things I should have been. Having a strong backbone and be able to leave the situation you’re not fit for is hard but sometimes you just have to pull that mid night runner haha.

    • Totally! Especially if the school isn’t treating you right! I just hope that next time she can connect with the expat community and find another job instead of leaving Korea altogether. I think there are some really great experiences to have working in SK, but you really have to make sure you’re choosing a job that’s right for you!

  3. Nice summary! An additional question i’d ask would be, “walk me through an average teacher’s day. Knowing the exact breakdown of what you can expect really can give you an accurate picture prior to accepting a job. I asked that question of the teacher I was put in touch with, and that was a particularly useful step. Based on these responses, I turned down one job and accepted another.

    • That’s a great question! It gives you a better idea of what to expect and paints a clear picture. I definitely think that this is a question to ask a teacher. So I’ll make sure to include it in my next post for the next steps! Thanks for sharing your experience and advice!

  4. This is very helpful! I’m usually shy to ask questions during interviews. The most common problem I had in my previous jobs as a teacher is having to prepare my stuff outside my working hours. When I was in Korea, I only teach 3 to 4 hrs a day, and the rest is spent for preparations.

    • I have had experience with schools especially in Korea that expect you to do way more in your free time and without pay! I Think it is just important to accept a job with all the information so you can be prepared for what is to come, rather than having a big surprise once you get there. That sounds like a pretty good job! Getting prep time is so important!!!