Interview With A School Owner: What Do Employers Look For When Hiring EFL Teachers?

This is the final portion of my email interview with Sue of ELT Notebook. Read the first two parts here and read on for a school owner’s perspective on hiring teachers.

Sue’s school works almost exclusively in-company, and focuses on quality instruction, which has a number of ramifications. First of all, it means that when Sue hires new teachers, she looks not only for those who will be able to work more or less independently (nearly always with DELTAs or DELTA+MA), but also those who can be flexible. She makes an effort to avoid draining split shift, and notes that it probably isn’t possible to keep the quality up for long if teachers are regularly working difficult schedules…but she does count some amount of flexibility as key; being able to accommodate the hectic schedules of business people is essential to keeping the contracts.

Other criteria which are important to Sue when hiring teachers include: wide experience (balanced with a long enough stay to actually learn something) ideally combined with solid experience in the local business English environment. Teachers who show an interest in both ELT and in developing professionally appeal, as do people who can demonstrate an ability to get on well with others.

Sue also notes that, as she doesn’t particularly trust her own interviewing skills, she much prefers giving work to people she’s already collaborated with in some capacity, or perhaps even trained, so she can be assured of what they’re like and how they work as teachers. If she hasn’t seen them in action in the classroom, she may ask for a portion of the interview to be devoted to a demo lesson. All of this together greatly facilitates matching the teacher to the group.

Sue points out that there is, essentially, a whole world that one just doesn’t see from a teacher’s perspective. Teaching well and keeping the students satisfied is important, but it’s not by any means “all”. Students don’t renew the contracts – companies do – and if all of the details don’t fall into place – say, the register isn’t filled out properly or students’ progress isn’t noted or tested – the contract may not get renewed and then the work is gone.

Keep up to date with Sue’s tips and advice at ELT Notebook.