The Skype interview is a critical step in the EPIK application process. Below is a list of questions, provided to me by my preliminary recruiting agency, Gone2Korea, that could’ve come up during the call. I’ve also taken the liberty of adding some supporting questions/suggestions to help further prompt any future EPIK teachers who are preparing for their interviews! My actual interview only lasted 25 minutes and I was barely asked half of these questions, but it never hurts to be too prepared!
In addition to basic questions that verify your identity and prying inquiries about your medical history, during your EPIK interview you might be asked:
Why are you interested in teaching? Think about what or who has inspired you to become a teacher. What parts of a teacher’s job do you find most exciting or interesting? Is it working with kids? The opportunity to serve as a role model or to share your culture? The satisfaction of contributing to a student’s growth?
Why Korea? It goes without saying, but I’ll do it anyway: don’t mention anything about your plot to save as much money as possible or to use Korea as a convenient homebase whilst you galavant around the rest of Asia for the next year…even if one or both of those is true. It’s just not the first thing they want to hear. Instead, consider what other aspects of Korea make it an attractive country in which to teach. Does the education system impress you? How about the students’ international reputation for work ethic? Or, what else about Korean culture, food or language interests you?
What do you know about Korea? A.k.a., “have you done your homework? What have you done to learn about Korean culture, the educational system, etc?” At the very least, spend some time on Wikipedia to get to know the country’s modern history (or ancient history, if you’re into that sort of thing), and read up on any current events you can find. Or, research what’s coming down the pike for the old R-o-K! Bottom line, by demonstrating a foundation of knowledge about Korea you are also demonstrating that you care; that you aren’t going to be some ignorant foreigner who comes in and refuses to immerse in/learn about their culture.
What is your educational philosophy? They’ve already read whatever you wrote in your application essay, so just be consistent. If you want, feel free to elaborate on one or two of the points you made!
How will you handle classes that consist of students with varied English skills and capabilities? Hopefully your TEFL course addressed this challenge and armed you tactics/strategies which you can tout off to the interviewer.
Classroom Management It’s possible you will be asked in some way about the following topics: designing and enforcing classroom rules, dealing with disruptive students, combining disciplinary forces with your co-teacher, and teaching large classes. Take time to think about how you would address these points.
Your co-teacher Arguably the most important relationship you’ll have during your entire year, your relationship with your co-teacher will be greatly affected by: how you approach and resolve disagreements, how you receive criticism, and how you respond to stress/unexpected change. Formulate answers and/or illustrative scenarios regarding these topics.
What type of students (age group) do you think that you could teach most effectively & why? Here, be honest but positive. If the thought of being surrounded by sticky-fingered munchkins is enough to send you running for the hills, that’s okay. Just say something like, “I most enjoy relating to middle and high school students on a more mature level. With older students, we can discuss more complex topics.” The opposite is also true. If angsty, teenage hormones make you want to pull your hair out, rephrase by stating, “I have a high-energy personality that would lend itself well towards working with younger students. It’s also fun to be part of building their foundation with English.” It’s perfectly acceptable to respond that you could teach all ages too! Just back it up with examples.
In your opinion, what are the top qualities of an English as a second language teacher? There are literally a million ways to answer this question. All I will say is that whatever qualities you choose, make sure they’re ones you possess and have demonstrated in the past! Once you make your initial response (e.g, “I think an ESL teacher should be patient and organized.”), support it with a story of a time when you exhibited those qualities.
How will your educational background help you as a teacher? Do you have personal experience studying another language? Do you have superior reading, writing or speaking skills that will make you an EXPERT-expert in one of those areas? Or, do you have a fascination with foreign cultures from which you’ll draw to make your lessons more engaging for students?
Why have you chosen to pursue a teaching job in Korea? Are you looking to challenge yourself, personally and professionally? Are you considering a career in education, or ESL in particular? Do you want to participate in an exchange of language and culture between yourself and Korean students?
What is your 5 year plan, 10 year plan, etc.? I hate this question. There’s no one alive who has ever uttered a response to this and then carried out exactly what they said they would. What interviewers should be asking (and, I think, what they’re trying to ask with this question) is, “Are you committed to doing this job well? For as long as you are here, are you willing to do the best job you can, to continually strive for improvement and to put as much effort as possible towards getting to know your students and staff?
How will you adapt to and reconcile the differences between your country and Korea? It’s okay to acknowledge the cultural differences here. But another good thing to do might be to point out the similarities between the two. You don’t have to make yourself sound like some superhuman foreigner who’s immune to culture shock. All they’re looking for is that you’re able to be patient, understanding, and eager to learn about Korean culture.
In 1-2 minutes teach me something I don’t already know. Pick a word or concept that is slang, an inside joke with your friends, or has meaning in your community. Offer to teach something personal! That way you will have fun teaching it, the interviewer will enjoy learning it, and he/she will connect better with you/your enthusiasm.
What does EPIK stand for? For the love of Pete, make sure you know: English Program in Korea!
Hope this was helpful! Happy interviewing!