First of all, congratulations on making it this far! Conquering your indecision is the first big step. Taking a leap of faith to teach English abroad in South Korea is not for the faint of heart, but it can be extremely rewarding and fun. If you’re at the stage in your process where you’ve piqued the interest of a few schools, you’re likely nervous about nailing your interview. First impressions can make or break an offer, so to set yourself up for success, follow these interview tips below.
Don’t make it all about you
Your excitement towards your next adventure is understandable, but it shouldn't be the main talking point in your interview. While everyone loves the opportunity to travel, this is not a vacation and it’s not all about you. When you interview for a job, you are trying to market yourself to an employer, and by extension, the students of the school. This interview is really about them.
Show your interviewer how you can be an asset to their academy with your exceptional work ethic and commitment to helping students learn. Talk about how you find your work empowering, knowing that you are providing students with a skill set that can take them anywhere in the world. English is used as a “lingua franca” almost universally, so knowledge of it is indispensable as a tool for the career growth of non-native speakers. Your interviewer will likely appreciate your interest in the future of the academy's students.
Keep it professional and on-topic
You’re probably fond of South Korea’s thriving pop culture scene if you’re applying for this job, so the question “What made you want to work in Korea?” may get you started on an enthusiastic tangent. It's good that you’ve shown a healthy interest in South Korean media, but prospective employers are likely not going to hire you solely because you binge-watch K-Dramas.
While South Koreans are proud of their biggest cultural entertainment exports, it’s important to reach beyond the latest fads and have a deep discussion about your genuine appreciation of the country’s value system. In South Korean society, the importance of academic excellence must not be understated. Acceptance to an elite foreign university sets students up for a successful international career, so it’s the goal of many parents to send their children overseas. You should stress in your interview how fulfilling you would find it to work in a country that values student’s educational success, as well as your expertise as an English speaker.
Keep an open mind
Nothing prepares you for culture shock— and this is coming from someone who has lived in three different countries. No matter how much research you conduct on your new destination, there will always be nuances that surprise you. This is not necessarily a bad thing! But it’s important to not get bogged down by it. With each cultural difficulty you encounter, take it in stride as an opportunity to grow. Look at it not as something to induce homesickness, but as a chance for you to learn.
In your interview, you should emphasize your strong cultural sensitivity and your open mind. When you are a teacher, you are not just representing yourself and your country. You are representing the school that decides to hire you. Employers want to make sure that you will represent them positively by following the social customs of your host country. Remember: When you live abroad, you are not a local, you are a guest. It is important to always treat those around you with respect and courtesy.
By following these interview tips, you can showcase your abilities and set yourself up for success with your interested schools in South Korea. Happy job hunting!