Interview Tips

Note on Interview Tips: Are you worried about the Aeon interview, the ECC interview or your upcoming Interac English School or Shane English School interview?

ECC Interview

ECC often asks you to do a lesson demonstration. They will give you a page from a textbook that ECC uses, then give you about 30 minutes to prepare a lesson and teach the other teachers being interviewed and/or the interviewers themselves. There are usually two or more interviewers for an ECC interview.

My ECC Interview

When I was interviewed at ECC it took most of the day, and I did my demo lesson in front of two interviewers both from North America, and one other teacher who was also being interviewed.The interviewers and the other teacher pretended to be ECC students. It went well! I was just positive, and enthusiastic. I even tried to throw in some humor if I could, though I was nervous.

If you are funny, don`t flaunt it too much, but if you are it is a GIFT in Japan. Most schools and employers love funny teachers. Japanese tend to be very, very nervous in an English class, so good managers and school administrators recognize that humor is a valuable asset in the classroom.

I told every school I interviewed for, that I had been a theatre major and I had performed stand up comedy in Vancouver. Both bits of information were greeted favorably.

If you are not funny, don`t pretend that you are!

It could backfire. There is nothing worse than someone trying to be funny, who just simply isn`t. Just be yourself, but be as warm as you can.

Interview Tips for English Schools in Japan

All of the schools want enthusiastic, energetic teachers. Japanese students are often just the opposite! - after working all day. Japanese tend to work too hard, so if the teacher has energy and enthusiasm (seems to be the thinking), they will brighten the class.

So for your ECC Interview, Aeon Interview, Interac and Geos or Nova interview, be yourself, but be sure to be energetic and enthusiastic, and do your best to teach the lesson.

Read up on some of the teaching methods we have here and just try to think of a fun way to teach the page they give you from the textbook. They probably expect you to "screw it up," a bit anyway, you are a new teacher, but be enthusiastic regardless.

Have fun with it, and you will be hired. I was offered jobs with both ECC and Interac. I worked for ECC for almost two years--then quit to start my English school in Japan.

Basically, what works back home will work to get a job teaching English in Japan too. A lot of this is common sense, but some of us forget this advice, and some unfortunately never learned it. Read our interview tips below.

I have often been interviewed by a Japanese and a Westerner, but only a couple of times by a Japanese only, or by a few Japanese only. I was once interviewed a few times by the same school and the second interview was with four Japanese and one American.

It really depends. I`ve had the good cop/bad cop experience. I just tried to keep my cool and answer questions well.

The employer wants to be sure they are getting a caring, patient, warm and friendly teacher.

If you have a sense of humor that`s a plus too. But they want the above. So just show them that. Women have an advantage as they are assumed to be that way in most cases. As we all know, it isn`t always true though.

Some schools have had experiences with teachers who get angry too easily. So they may test you by being rude. One interviewer put down my university. He was Japanese and I think he was partly at least, just testing me, to see how I would react.

But I would be yourself but try to show them the above.

If you are from Canada, Japanese may ask you questions trying to ascertain if your English is good enough. Some Japanese have the stereotype that we all speak French and English in Canada and that many Canadians are French speakers first. (However, only about 25% have French as a first language in Canada.)

At an interview for the Hon Atsugi YMCA, I was asked to correct papers to a time clock. I had to do that for 30 minutes. Then they told me I was too slow so they could only offer me part-time work. I felt this was a bit of a ruse, and that they had intended to offer my part-time work all along.

I`ve always felt personally that like many athletes or artists, good teachers are born and not made. I can tell who has a good personality for teaching. That said, when I interview I often ask questions unrelated to teaching. I ask about personal interests and other things that reveal character more than about knowledge of teaching methodology. I can teach the latter, I cannot change your character. Too many people should never have become teachers. They know a lot about methodology, but they are not very good teachers. They just don`t have it.

Pictured: The interview tips of the Giant Buddha of Kamakura, be calm and mindful (note mindful, not mindless!)

Job Interview Wisdom

Indeed the interview process is often cold, stressful and painfully slow. At Job Interview Wisdom they offer more than just interview tips. They cover things like when should you initiate a call to a company for feedback and things like that.Visit their site for Job Interview Tips that Deliver

Interview Tips


Have friends and family members interview you and give you interview tips. Anticipate what you will be asked before the interview.

Have some well thought out but honest answers ready.

Answer honestly!

Most interviewers like myself have a well honed BS detector that goes off on target. Whether you interview on the phone or in person just be yourself, just be honest.

Don`t regurgitate things you read from the school website. We know it too, and know when you are doing it. Trying to impress simply shows that you are trying to impress. Again, be yourself. Relax.

Interview Tips Photo: Having tea in a typical Japanese room by Devanshe Chauhan

Other Interview Tips:

Dress well! Get a haircut! Wear a suit and be sure to wear a tie.

Lose some weight. Okay I`m being politically incorrect but managers are people too, they might hire the thinner teacher over the chubby one if all things are equal.

For schools and company lessons you must dress well--dress smartly.

Watch this Monkey See Video for More Interview Tips

Interview Tips - Character:

Many schools prefer cheerful and lively as the students tend to be quiet and serious.

Pay: more interview tips

If the pay offer is too low. Look unhappy but don`t say anything.

Wait it out. The interviewer may offer you more later in the interview or you can politely bring it up. Money shouldn`t be the first thing you haggle about. It leaves a bad impression--that all you are concerned about is money.

Interview Tips - Questions you should ask:

How many hours per week will I work?

I always tried for a position that had very little administration work and between 20-26 hours per week of teaching. When I am not teaching, I feel I shouldn`t have to be in the school. I can prep at home. When I taught at ECC I was in the school 20 hours per week. I did some prep at home and some at the school. For Nunoike they made us be in the building about 36 hours a week when I worked there. It was too much. I wasn`t tenured and I wasn`t a fulltime employee. The pay too was below average at that time--235,000/month.

So decide what situation you want and make sure you get it. Find out what the situation is before you sign that contract.

Interview tips - What kind of shifts are there?

If you can, avoid split shifts. Some schools will want you to work mornings then come back for afternoon-evening.

One or two days a week like this may be okay if you are young and energetic, but a five day a week schedule like this will run you ragged. Check on the schedule and make sure you are happy with it.

Where will I teach?

Will you be at one school or many schools? Are the schools far apart?

Is it long, crowded train travel? Or is it pretty easy to get from one location to the next? Will you be paid for travel time? Or will your travel costs be reimbursed?

How much will I be paid?

Is it an hourly wage and varied month to month, or is it a fixed salary? Is there a guaranteed minimum in terms of salary or hours.

Is there a maximum of hours for that salary? Is there a bonus? Some schools offer a contract completion bonus or other such incentive.

What if a class is cancelled? Are you still paid all or part of the money for that class?

What holidays will I receive?

Are they paid holidays? Are they fixed holidays or can you take them anytime? If the positon is part-time, will you be paid for public holidays? Probably not-but it is worth asking.

What are the ages and backgrounds of the students I will be teaching?

Will it be mostly children? Junior high? Adults? How large are the classes? How long do they last? (Children can stand a class of 45-50 minutes but no longer.) How young are the children? Will I be teaching private lessons? Will I have an assistant teacher?

Resources and Training

Will I be trained? If so what is the training program? What materials will I have access to? Will there be other teachers around?

Who are they? Do I have to use a certain teaching method or will I be free to choose my own? Some schools have had microphones and even video cameras in the classroom to monitor teachers.

Will your school be monitoring you? If so in what way? Will the principal suddenly come into the classroom?

*If a lot of these questions are answered on the school website or information package then don`t ask. If you do ask them and the information is freely available on the internet. It shows you haven`t done your homework. Or worse, they may think you are lazy.

If you want clarification or simply to keep the interview going--you can say, I know it says so and so on the website, but stillI was wondering about so and so. Point out that you have done your homework. It shows you are very interested in that particular school.

*No school will be perfect for you. You have to weigh up the variables including salary, to see if the school is a pretty good fit.

If you interview by phone it is much more difficult to be hired.But not impossible, especially if the school is not in one of the major cities in Japan. (It is more difficult to get teachers there). Yet often those places are the best places to live and work!

By making your way to Japan and going to a face to face interview, you show your commitment to teaching in Japan. This puts you way ahead of anyone applying from outside Japan.

Be early!

Remember that it can be very difficult to find things in a foreign country and still most signs are written in Chinese characters (kanji). In spite of this, find the location well ahead of time and be early. Some people will be late so this will make you look better.

See Interview Questions Biz

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