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Interviewing teachers for an Appointment outside their Home Country

It is very important that Schools should interview teachers before they send an offer of employment. Although in the Middle East there is some pressure from Ministries of Education to clear the qualifications before the interview takes place, we believe that the interview should still come first. Our reasons:

  1. Teachers are being employed very fast - if the school goes to the Ministry first the chances are good they will loose the teacher
  2. You may not like the teacher when you speak to them! The way a teacher speaks is vital - hear them before you appoint them!
  3. Teachers, particularly those who have not been to the Middle East before, feel very nervous, and are greatly assured when they have spoken to someone from the school.

Here is what I suggest interviewers do when they are ready to phone a candidate

FIRST phone us to check what time and what phone number the candidate would like you to use.

We will speak to them - so they are prepared for an interview. If they are already employed I will tell you!

When you phone the candidate, I suggest four parts to the interview

1. WHO you are 2. WHERE your are 3. WHAT you need 4. WHAT you can offer

  1. Tell the candidate who you are

    A. Give the name and designation of the interviewer
    Give the name of the school, and assure them that there is a Website
    Give them an idea who owns the school, who the students are, how the bills are paid
    What the ethos of the school is - what you add to the students and parents
    Tell them what curriculum you use

    B. ASK THEM about themselves and their family, and why they want to teach in your country
    What value they believe they could add to your students given the ethos of your school
    You might explore how they feel about Muslim people (please dont be offended, but many Western
    people are very ignorant about Islam, while Muslim converts sometimes have a very extravagant picture of the Middle East!)
    Ask how well they know the curriculum you are using, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum you are using

  2. Tell them where you are

    A. Tell them where you are - the nation and the city - whether you are in the centre of the city or the suburbs,
    Talk about the hours of schooling and the days of the week you work
    Talk about heat and ask how they cope with it. Some people do not cope well!
    Talk about dress, what is accepted in your nation, whether people can buy a car and drive, and any other local customs you believe they should be aware of
    Invite questions about your nation.
    Some may ask if there is a church - if they can do a Haaj, or sports facilities - be ready for questions

    B. Ask them where they have taught before - is it Rural or Urban, who were their students, how many students in a class
    Listen carefully to their accent - can you understand them? Can they understand you? If not - they wont do well in class!

  3. Tell them what you need from a teacher

    A. Tell them what you need from a teacher
    • What grades they would teach
    • Boys or girls or co-ed
    • What learning areas/subjects you would need them to teach
    • What sports or extra-murals they would do
    • class sizes

    B. Ask them whether they have taught these grades and learning areas before and if they can cope with the curriculum
    Have they taught Arabic speaking children in English
    Have they taught non-English speaking Children in English?
    How will they cope with classes who do not speak English at home?
    What is their approach to discipline in badly behaved classes (don't take anyone who tells you they will "talk" to badly behaved children!!!)
    If they are vague or undecided please do not employ them!

  4. Ask what their expectations are

    A. Ask what their expectation is in terms of:
    • Class size
    • Promotion
    • Benefits (Air fares, accommodation, medical insurance, ground transport)
    • Visits from spouse, children, parents, friends, unmarried partners of the opposite gender
    • Salary (be prepared to negotiate, but DO NOT offer a low salary as the person will leave when they discover what others are being paid!!)
    If they may have to live in a Compound please explain this concept clearly

    B. Discuss whether this meets their expectations
    Ask when they can start work
    Ask about people (spouse or children) who might accompany them
    Explain any exit permits which may apply
    Ask if there are any other questions
    Ask if they would accept a written offer of employment
    If their expectations are ridiculous please terminate the conversation!

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