5 Key Strategies for Landing the Best International School Positions - Job Interview Tips for Teaching Overseas

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Experienced international school recruiter shares his top tips on how to ace the interview and get hired to teach overseas.

Following these 5 Job Tips will help secure an international teaching position.

Tips for securing an international teaching contract

Your personal characteristics are far more important to international school recruiters than to your local school districts at home.

The 2012-2013 international school recruitment season is getting underway with over 800 schools looking to hire qualified candidates. Forrest Broman, a leading expert in international school recruitment, offers five essential tips to help candidates interested in teaching overseas land the very best positions in the world.

Exhaustive lists of criteria and strategies for creating successful applications and interviews abound. But here are five tips that can determine whether your first choice school makes you an offer. These are distilled from over 25 years of experience recruiting candidates for schools, working closely with international school recruiters, and interviewing over 5,000 candidates.

1.) Results
The latest development in educational research is starting to focus on learning results, rather than just teacher "inputs." So the best strategy is to provide evidence of student work and accomplishments under your guidance. This may be written work, art projects, exam questions that challenge and promote thinking skills, videos of performances, and student presentations. Don't be afraid to bring these to the interview, or discuss them in advance. The best recruiters will be very interested and impressed. And for highly desirable schools, this is the very best way to set yourself apart from the competition.

2) After School Coaching and Teaching Skills
Most international schools attempt to mount substantial after school programs in sports, theatre, games, IT, cooking and almost every other skill appropriate to K-12 students. Thus your ability to add something significant to these will make you a more attractive candidate. Good coaches are a primary quest of every school, but if you don’t have athletic expertise, you should be prepared to offer at least two types of activities that you would be willing to teach after school.

3) Recommendations from Supervisors
Very few recruiters will ever get to see you in the classroom before they make the hiring decision. They may need to rely on your recommendations from past and current supervisors, and the best schools will conduct extensive phone check-outs, to get a better handle on the person they are considering. They also are aware of the chronic reluctance of US administrators to be forthcoming. Hence, you should inform your references about the different kind of schools you are applying to and let them know the factors you would like them to highlight. Their written and oral comments should include placing you in the top 3%,10% or 20% of the faculty they have worked with, both in terms of teaching abilities and personal characteristics. It's much better if they are prepared for these questions.

4) Show and Tell
Since recruiters won’t be able to see you teach in person, they will appreciate any capacity you have to create a filmed lesson that can be shared. This can make a major difference in selecting one candidate over another, but of course, only if it demonstrates effective teaching strategies. You should definitely develop these clips, but have a knowledgeable educational supervisor review them before sending them out. Don’t worry if filming your lessons is appropriate -- it is completely ethical and allows you to put your best foot forward and show them your skills.

5) The Personal Factor
Your personal characteristics are far more important to international school recruiters than to your local school districts at home. In these schools you are expected to fit into and enhance a community of expatriates, and to be able to reassure anxious parents from many nations that you are not only an effective teacher, but a positive role model for their children. Invariably you will be drawn into the broader school community; and your potential impact on the well-being, optimism and morale of other staff members is a matter of serious concern. Essentially this means that very positive, engaging people, with excellent social skills and personal resilience will get the nod every time.

Before you Leave the Interview . . .
Know that the best candidates, at a crucial point in the interview, turn the process around and ask thoughtful questions about the school. Inquiring about the school’s goals, concerns, the most difficult challenges the school and staff face, and other important topics show you’re seriously interested in the school along with the intangible dynamics that make the school unique. The idea here is to remind the recruiter that just as he is evaluating you, you are carefully considering whether this is a school where you want to work. Probing, thoughtful questions, focused mainly on learning issues, (not benefits and remuneration), are clearly the most effective.

Forrest Broman, founder and director of The International Educator (TIE), located in Hyannis, MA, directed three international schools and created two others during his international school career. TIE is a non-profit organization that for 25 years has been dedicated to developing links among teachers and the extensive American and international schools network worldwide. TIE publishes a quarterly newspaper featuring the latest in international school news and developments for K-12 educators around the world. TIE’s website, http://www.tieonline.com, offers the widest selection of K-12 teaching and administrative jobs available anywhere in the world.


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