How to Impress Employers and Get a TEFL Job: Interview with Virginia Ines Fernandez

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We’ve all been a little (or a lot!) apprehensive when applying for a job we really want. How to calm those nerves? Know what your potential employer is looking for! Here’s the lowdown on what many TEFL recruiters look for, direct from someone who hires a number of teachers each year. Virginia Ines Fernandez, the Staff & Program Coordinator for Brooklyn Bridge, a prominent English school in the heart of Buenos Aires, gives us some exclusive insight.

What are your requirements for applicants?

As part of its policy, Brooklyn Bridge only hires teachers with TEFL or CELTA certification and preferably a university education. Applicants do not necessarily need extensive experience to apply for a position at our school.

What makes a resume stand out?

A teacher with TEFL or CELTA certification and proven teaching experience will definitely stand out. Native English speakers with no certification or experience are not considered during the selection process.

Do you have a preference for teachers who took onsite TEFL courses over those who took online courses?

Yes, we do. We prefer teachers who have taken the course face-to-face over the ones who took the online version because the onsite programs give them the opportunity to have first-hand experience with real students and they can learn a lot more from their teachers, too. These teachers tend to be more confident when designing lesson plans and are typically stronger in grammar and methodology.

What can a teacher do to ace the interview?

I think the best thing teachers can do is to be honest, to be themselves. To think carefully about whether it’s a job they’re willing to do and take on responsibility. To be punctual and prepared. Teachers who are late or not dressed properly, or teachers who show no interest or have a lack of energy, will definitely not be considered for a position in our school. As we teach business people in companies, we have to make sure our teachers are serious and responsible.

When you think about the best teachers you’ve hired, what traits or skills did they all share?

The best teachers we’ve hired so far are all extremely responsible teachers, compassionate human beings who love their jobs. Teachers who feel passionate about what they do and always try to learn from their students, their peers, etc… They enjoy planning lessons and coming up with creative activities to motivate their students and that reflects directly in the students’ performance. The worst teachers have been the ones who do not care about the job or the students, are late to classes, don’t bother to prepare lessons, do not respect our dress codes, etc…

Have you had teachers who struggled with culture shock or homesickness?

I think it’s quite natural to miss relatives and friends but that has not presented many problems so far. Buenos Aires is a friendly city so teachers quickly meet other teachers or make new friends. The best way to fully immerse in a different culture is to take things the way they are and try to make the most of it.

What advice would you give to someone who just got TEFL certified and arrived in Buenos Aires looking for work?

To show up on time for the interviews and dress in smart clothes. I understand that this may sound odd but Argentines are quite formal while doing business and pay a lot of attention to the way a person looks.


Want more advice on how to land the TEFL job of your dreams? Download our “How to Get a TEFL Job” E-Book for tips on vetting schools abroad, perfecting your resume, acing your interview, and more!

October 3, 2011