January 20, 2011 by Willy Cardoso
Out of the many ELT related tasks I’ve done so far, interviewing English teachers has never been a favorite.
I’ll start off with some fading memories of being an interviewee though.
Do you like teaching? This was a killer, every time an interviewer asked me that I wanted to dig the pavement with my nails and bury my head in the ground and scream NO, I’m in it for the money!
What’s going on people? You interview a baby-sitter and ask if she likes children. (??) But do you ask if she likes long cries? Hey Mr Postman, do you like letters? I mean, do you like walking? Anyway… what kind of question is ‘do you like teaching?’
Another downer was that after beautifully crafting that cv and personalizing that cover letter, they come and say So, tell me about your experience. Oh give me a break, didn’t you read the cv?
And believe it or not, I was once asked:
If you could be an animal what animal would you be?
Aahhhh… a cockroach.
But there were the funny bits, like when as a very young teacher the interviewer asked me How would you explain to a student the difference between listen and hear? Tough job that one, I thought.
Now at the other end of the desk, as the interviewer, I’ll tell you that it took me a while to make it a survivable experience, for me at least. 🙂
Eventually, I found some ways to make the interviews worth everyone’s time.
One of them being CAR.
Despite my aversion to corporate-focused McAccronyms, I bought this one.
Context | Action | Result
Quite simple stuff.
Firstly, pin down the general competencies you’re seeking in a teacher and then write some questions that can elicit something substantial. For example:
|Goal setting / Goal orientation||What was the most challenging goal you have ever set to yourself? Did you reach it? Which goals were substituted, forgotten or reformulated?|
|Responsiveness (to feedback)||Tell me about the best advice you were given to do a job better. Who said that and why? What was the outcome?
Tell me about some sound advice you were given that you haven’t put in practice. Why?
|Interpersonal relationship / Conflict resolution||Tell me about a situation in which you had some incompatibilities with colleagues or bosses and how you dealt with it.|
As the questions suggest, good responses will come with context, action and result. That way the interviewer can have a better idea of candidates’ past behavior. Of course, one can always lie. But then we have the police officer technique. (on a later post)
Another useful tip I like is:
Reject empty answers. Follow up with smart questions.
I was tired of working on things that weren’t my responsibilities.
Ask: Which things were not your responsibilities?
I have always been very proactive.
Ask: Give me an example of a situation where you were proactive and how it made a difference.
We did great things.
Ask: Such as?
So, there you are. A few simple ideas to make that recruitment process less agonizing.
Oh, I almost forgot. If you are the kind of person who enjoys a more relaxing atmosphere, you should take a look at the video below and I’m sure you’ll find a handful of very good techniques to use in your interviews.