I have found that the most frequently asked questions from prospective TEFL teachers have to do with finding a job after becoming certified to teach. I decided to go straight to the horse’s mouth and speak with our partner schools in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru to see what they are looking for in the English teachers they hire and to find out what it would be like to work for them.
Willow Pergl (WP): What kind of demand do you have for TEFL teachers? About how many TEFL teachers do you hire a year /or how many do you have working for you currently?
Maximo Nivel (MN): We hire on a rolling basis at Maximo Nivel, meaning that we’re nearly always looking for new talent. Between the three institutes we run in Guatemala, Peru and Costa Rica, we generally hire between 2 and 5 teachers per month. Peru is our largest English school, with over 1,000 students and 19 teachers. In Costa Rica we work with 8 teachers, and in Guatemala we have 6 English teachers on staff.
WP: What is the typical contract length for TEFL teachers at your schools?
MN: Most starting contracts are for 6 months, and can often be extended.
WP: What is the typical schedule for your TEFL teachers?
MN: Most English teachers have a split schedule, with morning and afternoon/evening classes, and some time off in the middle of the day. Classes may begin as early as 7:30am and end as late as 9:00pm. Some teachers work on Saturday mornings as well.
WP: What kinds of students do your TEFL teachers work with?
MN: This varies a bit between the three countries in which we work, but the majority of our students are college-age or young adults. In Peru we hold classes specifically for children as well, and in Costa Rica there is a fairly large demand for business English amongst professionals.
WP: What are the qualities you look for in TEFL teachers?
MN: We look for teachers that are outgoing, fun and committed. It’s important for teachers to maintain a professional attitude and demeanor while also showing charisma and connecting with their students. We also look for flexibility in potential teachers, so that they can adapt to shifting schedules and client rosters.
WP: What things can a prospective TEFL teacher do to best set themselves up to get hired by you?
MN: We often hire straight out of our TEFL courses, which allow us a full month to get to know a potential teacher. The little things count – TEFL students that come to class late or don’t put energy into class preparation and assignments are less apt to be hired. For those not in our classes, we look for a strong personality, mistake-free resume, and a put-together personal appearance at an interview.