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International School Jobs

How to Plan a Successful Interview

Besides the romance and simple pleasures of foreign living, overseas teaching is also a helpful addition to a future resume. The network of international schools is well connected, and once a fledgling teacher is hired it is easier to obtain a future position. Upon completing a stay at a foreign school, you may choose to simply remain at your current school or continue teaching at another international school around the world.

Though the recruiting fair is the most effective gateway to a contract, nothing in the world of education can prepare an individual for these conferences. Having to convince an administrator within 15 minutes that you are the best candidate for his school is a rather difficult challenge. Being given fewer than 24 hours to decide where you will spend the next two to three years of your life, especially if it’s an unfamiliar destination, makes the situation even more complex.

Choosing the right interviews at the right times, knowing which schools offer the best packages and best contracts is a tricky business. Knowing which schools are situated in the best locations is also a challenge. Getting hired may mean four days of this process, sometimes with double digit interviews. Administrators always have several candidates in mind at the job fair and need a decision from you before they leave for the next stop. The carnival continues.

Preliminary Research

When first considering an international position it is important to do some preliminary research and self-exploration. Consider the locations, salary, and size of schools. The better prepared you are on entering a conference, the more confidence you will bring to your interviews.

Though recruitment fairs are the most common vehicles for obtaining a position, contacting a school directly is a possibility as well. For a small fee, some web-based services provide a directory and newsletters that advertise openings throughout the world. Still, most administrators seem to prefer the face to face approach; if they are interested in your candidacy, they will most often request that you arrange an interview at the recruitment fair.

The requirements for attending the recruitment fairs are usually a minimum of two years full-time teaching experience, as well as licensure. Sometimes international work experience and private school teaching may be substituted for this. If accepted, the recruitment organization will often forward information and a list of school openings. This is a good time for you to network prior to the conference. Often some positions are filled even before the conference begins.

Your first and most important task is to obtain an interview. Administrators only have a certain amount of interview slots available. Read over the list of positions carefully, see what positions you are qualified for, create a game plan of attack, and follow it to the best of your ability. Making contacts via email before the conference is important. If the administrator is interested in interviewing you, then you don’t have to worry as much about waiting in the long lines. Also, do not waste time trying to obtain a position for which you are unqualified. Some positions require specialized training such as the MYP (Middle Years Program) and IB (International Baccalaureate). This most often is not a negotiable issue and trying for a position for which you are unqualified can be a waste of your valuable time.

Once you have set up your interviews, the next few days are crucial. Be prepared to have 15 minutes to sell yourself. The best advice is to be self-assertive and confident. Administrators interview many people each day. You need to stand out, as you would hope to in any interview.

If the school for which you are interviewing is one of your top choices, leave at least one interview slot open so that you do not show up late to any interview. If a top choice school is interested in you, the interviewer may continue to speak to you after your allotted time slot. You want to leave yourself some room for this. However, if they hold you longer than you can remain, be confident and state that you have another interview. They will understand this and will usually schedule you for a second interview. Remember that the goal of an interview is to return for another.

If you do obtain a position, you are often given no more than 24 hours to make a decision. Most schools offer a 2-year contract. Administrators need to fill these positions efficiently. If you do not accept, they often have another candidate in mind. This can be a stressful time, especially if you have several appealing choices. Do not get overwhelmed, but consider yourself lucky. Spend the next few hours researching the location, asking intelligent questions, and trusting your instincts. Remember that any international teaching experience will be both an adventure and a struggle. There are no easy roads and each experience will be rewarding in its own way.

Recruitment Organizations

• International School Services (www.iss.edu). 15 Roszel Road, P.O. Box 5910, Princeton, NJ 08543; 609-452-0990, fax 609-452-2690. A private, nonprofit organization serving American international schools overseas. This is a good resource for obtaining a position overseas. The next recruiting conference is being held in June 2005. One must be accepted and have a professional file with ISS to attend a conference. $150 application fee, $150 reactivation fee, no placement fee.

• Search Associates (www.search-associates.com). A good resource for potential teachers, administrators, and interns hoping to work in international schools throughout the world. They also conduct workshops and seminars. One must have been accepted and have a professional file with Search Associates to attend a conference. Fees for registration, good for three years, $50 administrative fee to attend conference, $300 additional upon placement for teachers).

• Council of International Schools (www.cois.org). U.K. Office, 21A Lavant St., Petersfield, Hampshire, GU32 3EL, U.K. Tel. 011-44-0-1730-263131, fax 011-44-0-1730 268913. CIS is a not-for-profit association and a good resource for international education. They also provide teacher and administrative recruitment services. There is no fee charged to candidates, either for registering with CIS or for securing a new appointment through their services.

• The International Educator (www.tieonline.com). TIE—The International Educator. Subscription service with job postings and a resume bank for American and British overseas and international schools. They offer both a newspaper and an interactive web site with job postings. A good resource for networking before a recruitment fair or attempting to bypass it.

• UNI Overseas Placement Service for Educators (www.uni.edu/placement/overseas). Univ. of Northern Iowa Career Center, East Gym #113A, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0390, 319-273-2083, fax 319-273-6998. The UNI Overseas Placement Service for Educators connects international K-12 schools with certified educators year round. Services offered include the UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair, credential and referral services, and related publications. UNI is the original international fair for educators. No placement fees.

JARETT EMERT is a freelance writer, outdoor educator, and currently a teacher of literature at the American School of Milan. He is originally from Vermont.