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Teacher selection

October 09, 2007

Hello again,

Once you have drawn up a shortlist of suitable candidates for a teaching post the really hard part of selection begins. Ideally you will conduct a face-to-face interview, or, failing that...

... a telephone/Internet interview. This gives you the opportunity to sense the personality and presence of the potential teacher. But how do you select among roughly equal candidates?

I suggest that you ask some questions that probe those areas of key importance to see if the teacher really does know his or her stuff. First, look at knowledge. Is the teacher familiar with key language structures and the challenge they present in the classroom? You could ask, for example, what aspects of the present simple tense students find tricky. Look for answers that refer to key issues such as use of final –s for third person singular; use of auxiliary in question and negative forms and confusion that may arise in the way the tense is used.

Try to assess just how familiar the teacher is with the support systems in ELT: testing and examinations, materials, sources of ideas. The teacher with that extra spark of interest should be aware of what is available.

To test classroom skills, go beyond the obvious request for ideas for a lesson plan and home in on a specific aspect of planning. What would the teacher include in a lesson plan to obtain feedback about successful learning? Ask about how the teacher would encourage learners to develop sound learning strategies and throw in a question about how they would handle a specific example of bad student behaviour. Let the candidates describe their strengths and weaknesses at this stage of their development. A teacher who has had good training should have been given feedback on these points by their course supervisors.

Remember too that the teacher needs to be part of a team. Ask questions that will uncover their attitudes to colleagues; their willingness to share ideas. If you use any standard personality testing you could use the results to discuss with the candidates how they see themselves contributing on the basis of their profile.

Try also to get a general picture of the person’s aims and ambitions, likes and interests, ability to adapt to a new environment. In the event of two teachers seeming equal on the basis of all the earlier answers, this area could be the decider. The person who has thought ahead and has some direction is more likely to be reliable than somebody who is dipping a toe in the water.

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  1. Andon Says:

    This interview process, though quite intimidating to many potential candidates, is a comprehensive one and is also useful information for future ESL teachers. All great teachers, that I have known personally, have had a passion for the job and this should be emphasized even more during the interview process. That is why a face-to-face or telephone interview is so important. Keep up the good work!

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