How to Prepare for Your First Language Teacher Job Interview

first language teacher job interview

Job interviews can be tough, it's just a simple fact of life — putting you through the wringer is pretty much what a job interview is all about. In your particular case, a language teacher job interview is certainly no exception to this rule.

But that shouldn't discourage you one iota! Here are a few things you can do to make sure you nail that interview.

Be Versatile

Versatility is a tried and true signifier of not only competence but also dedication. You'll want to show your prospective employer that you possess all of these traits to leave a lasting impression on them.

If you're versatile, it means that you're capable of handling anything that comes your way. This is key in the realm of teaching because you constantly have to contend with the distinct needs of your students — by addressing their needs, you will ensure a greater level of aptitude.

Everyone's different: they learn differently and they learn for different reasons.

There are many students with various specific purposes. Some of them want to learn conversational French to relocate, some are willing to pass the exams. Once, a girl came to me saying that she wants to read French poetry in its original text, that was the sole purpose of her studies. You need to be ready for that: to show your interviewer that you're not going to treat your students like they're all the same.

Be Prepared to Exhibit the Qualities That'll Make You a Good Teacher

You, as a teacher, carry a profound responsibility. In order to truly fulfill your responsibilities as a teacher, you must possess and exhibit very specific qualities that make you well-suited for the job.

Put it this way, if I were to make a list of the ingredients that make a good teacher, it would probably look a little something like this:

These are all qualities that you want to outwardly express during the course of your first language teacher job interview.

School administrators are regularly on the look-out for these qualities. Working at a typical public school may be drastically different from online jobs for teachers. Nonetheless, teaching is teaching, no matter the setting.

Sure, it may seem straightforward but you'll want to be rather meticulous in peppering in expressions of these traits throughout the interview. It's more than likely that these are qualities that you truly do possess (I'd hope so, anyway) — the trick here is to communicate that to the interviewer.

Prepare yourself in advance to field any questions that may arise regarding your grasp of these qualities. That way you'll be able to answer confidently and assuredly — without second-guessing anything — which, again, is something they'll be looking for in a candidate.

Show Passion Towards What You'll Be Teaching

I realize that passion was included in the previous list of qualities that you should display during the course of your first interview. However, I strongly hold to it that passion ought to be afforded even more effort.

The reason I stress the importance of passion is simple: you could have taught anything in the world, but you chose ­­­­______.

You must ignite that passion if you want to truly be a good teacher. More importantly, you need to express that passion to even get your foot in the door.

Now, some may say a teacher's role is to teach anything and everything, but we all know from experience that isn't the case. Think back to some of your favorite teachers in high school or college — they all taught the subjects which they felt passionately about.

That's what makes a great teacher.

In the case of a language teacher, passion generally lies within the culture surrounding the language. Something drew you to not only learn that language (unless it's native to you) but also share it with others.

As someone contending for a language teaching job, you'll want to express to the interviewer what makes you tick about this language. Whether it be literature, music, film, or even your love of visiting a country and interacting with its people, you'll want to effectively showcase what the subject of your teaching means to YOU.

Try To Plan Around Your Employer's Expectations

This one may seem a little duplicitous but it is a necessary part of the interviewing process. When you are going in for an interview, you are there to pitch yourself to the employer.

The most effective way to do that is to gauge what they're looking for in a teacher. There are all kinds of different employment opportunities for you — from online language jobs to an in-person language teacher job — and you need to know what is expected of you in each opening.

Take time to carefully assess the job posting and strike conclusions regarding what they're looking for. What sort of institution is it? How old are the students? What level of proficiency must be maintained?

The answers to these questions hold the key.

Once you uncover the needs of the employer, you can quickly build a strategy around how to go about pitching yourself: your strengths, your goals, your previous experiences, why you do what you do, etc.

All of this will lend a hand in emphasizing what needs to be emphasized and, ultimately, maximizing how you present yourself.


By adhering to these simple — yet effective — tenants, you will no doubt be able to land your first teaching gig without fail. At the very least, you will certainly be in a better position to understand yourself and where you want to go with your career.

Like any interview, your first language teacher job interview will be somewhat of a hurdle. However, you'll be well-equipped to traverse it: knowledge of self is what's most important, you just have to know how to communicate it to the world.

Contribution by Susan Craig

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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