High atop Kobe, Japan‘s Ikuta Shrine on New Year’s Eve, we played. Below were thousands of Japanese revelers from the Hyogo prefecture. The air was crisp and cold. We stayed warm through constant movement and drinking hot sake. So many of the celebrants shouted “Arrigato” for our performances. The band had never sounded better. We six or seven foreigners looked at each other without much of any spoken words. Each knew that this was special.
That night, drumming with my expat Taiko drum group, I must say, was the coolest moment of my expat life. Our band was short-lived but we did have a pretty unique style. This moment could not have happened if I didn’t ace my job interview, years earlier.
I now teach at a prestigious school in Hong Kong. I have taught at Singapore American School and the Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan. The following is a body of thought on what to expect if you are fortunate to interview for an overseas teaching position. Most of my thinking comes from successfully securing jobs at three separate recruitment fairs. I am also sharing my learning from the Principals’ Training Center for International Educators. I hope it helps.
International School Services, Search Associates and the Council of International Schools are three of the top recruitment agencies that connect teachers with international schools. Each has recruitment fairs all over the world.Each is pretty similar in their approach and I recommend that you choose the one that is right for you. I have had a lot of luck with International School Services.
Currently there are over 6,000 international schools in over 230 countries. I am one of nearly 300,000 staff members that make a living at an international school. If you have three or more years experience as a certified teacher and you have proper references, I imagine you are likely to get a teaching position somewhere overseas.
However, the most sought after positions are highly competitive. My Hong Kong interview process spanned three consecutive days. I spoke with my current supervisor a total of seven times before finally signing my contract.
Some Questions Headmasters Ask:
Expect all the standard questions that you would imagine, including:
- “Why do you intend to move overseas?”
- “What would you do when….?”(scenarios)
- “Describe your favorite lesson.”
- “Do you like children?”
- “Describe a time when you were a successful collaborator.”
- “Describe your favorite movie. What makes it so?”
- “Describe your favorite shoe. What makes it so?”
- “What questions do you have for me?”
Each headmaster must report back to a Board of Education of some sort so do not expect immediate positive feedback.
Be overly confident, be overly prepared and be overly aggressive. Tell great stories from your teaching life. Move quickly and dress impeccably.