Teach in Korea – The Interview.

Now that I’ve handed in all the required documentation to the recruitment team over at CIEE, it’s time for the interview process.

For me, it happened in two main parts.

The first was a preliminary interview where I talked with a recruiter that’s actually IN South Korea. I didn’t know this at first, though; I thought it was the actual interview with the school and was quite nervous.

Now, most people when they get nervous probably feel nauseous or can’t see straight. Some people tremble and can’t focus; their mind is scattered and jittery. Others just clam up and can’t think of anything to say.

But I go in the opposite direction. I talk. A lot.


(Replace the water with words and the hydrant with my face and you’ve got an idea)

And not only did I talk a lot, I was way too COMFORTABLE during the interview, mentioning things better left unsaid during a first meeting, such as the fact that at my current job there was a superior I didn’t like compared to other superiors.

Also, when asked about why I wanted to teach in Korea I was in honest in my motivation (which I covered here) but because I was nervous I rambled and had to bring China and Japan into the conversation. I didn’t speak much about Japan but for some retarded reason I told her that I heard Japan had a lousy education system. This is due to opinions I’ve heard secondhand, especially this video:

I talked awhile with the recruiter (over 20 minutes) and when I was done, she managed my expectations about the job. For example, I want to work in Seoul, but she told me that Seoul is very competitive, and tough for a first-time teacher to get a position there. So instead I’d be interviewing for a school 40 minutes away from Seoul by subway.

She also answered my main question about WHEN THE HELL I WOULD START. Of course, followers of this blog know my school needs five MONTHS to print a diploma so I’m eager to get there ASAP. She was a bit vague, telling me that the school I’d be interviewing for would start classes in early January, but I may be going there a week or two early for training.


(Sorry, Cindy Lou Who, but I’ll probably miss Christmas)

After my preliminary interview, the recruiter gave me some advice (such as to speak slower) and also sent me a handy guide with interview tips, dos and don’ts, and possible questions I might encounter during my interview with the school’s ACTUAL representative.

Some examples:

– Do have good motives to come to Korea and teach. Don’t say that you are coming to Korea b/c of your girl friend or boy friend, to make money, for travel purposes or adventure.

 – Do stress your achievements. And don’t offer any negative information about yourself.

– Don’t inquire about salary, vacations, bonuses or other benefits until after you’ve received an offer. It’s not considered polite, in Korean culture, for applicant’s to ask questions about salary, apartments, airfare, benefits, etc. Obviously these matters are important and need to be addressed, however, it’s best to direct these types of questions to us and/or one of the other ESL teachers currently working at the school. The interviewer wants to listen your passion for teaching rather than your interest in benefits themselves.

Also included was a long list of possible questions. One thing I know about myself is that I pay a painstaking amount of attention to detail and am meticulous in many things I do. So of course, when I received the list of possible questions, I opened up a word doc, pasted the questions, and typed out answer to all twenty six possible questions. Then I spent the next couple of days reviewing them in preparation.


(I’m cool. People like me. I’m going to ace this interview)

The second interview was held on a Sunday night (because it was 10am Monday in Korea) via Skype. When the PC started ringing, I took a deep breath, and accepted the call.

The interviewer was named Ms. Su and when the call opened we both introduced ourselves and I was sure to smile. She started by saying that it was going to be a short interview, which to be honest was a relief.

She asked me a few questions, including:

Why do you want to teach in Korea?

What are some of your strengths?

What are some of your weaknesses?

There were a few other questions that I can’t remember, but overall the interview wasn’t the torture I thought it would be.

Attack on Titan Torture

(My mind goes to some dark places.)

After she was done asking questions, it was my turn to ask questions. The interview tips I was emailed said it was important to do this, because to not ask anything shows a lack of interest.

For me, the problem wasn’t so much asking questions or not, but asking the RIGHT questions. Bringing up salary and so on was a big no-no so I asked about the school. Such as the size of the class, demeanor of the students, and the experiences of past teachers. My friend’s brother who’s been teaching in Korea for over five years advised me to ask for the email address of another teacher, so I can ask them some questions, which the interviewer obliged.

When the interview ended I closed by saying that I was interested in the position and would like to know what the next step would be. Ms. Su answered by saying I’d be notified by email. Then we said our goodbyes and hung up.


(Afterwards I let out a huge sigh of relief)

Cut to a couple of days later. It’s evening and I’m home when I get an email from the CIEE correspondent in Korea saying that the school wants to offer me a job. I was thrilled by the excellent news and wanted to know more. Luckily, there was a preliminary contract attached to the email. They wanted me to review the terms of the job before they sent over the actual contract with further information like the salary and teaching term filled in.

So that’s where I’m currently at in the Teaching English in Korea process. In the meantime, I found the name of the school and the area where I’d be teaching.

It’s the Sonbon branch of the Feinschule company, which is a comprised of many private schools (or “hagwons”) in South Korea. My residence will be about 10 minutes walking distance from the school itself, and the area I’ll be in is Gunpo-si, which is about 40 minutes by subway to Seoul.

I was even able to find a short video that shows the area. Take a look.

That’s all for now. If you liked what I had to say please leave a comment below and as always be sure to SUBSCRIBE by email so you’ll be notified every time I post, which should be getting more frequent as I get closer and closer to departure.

Until next time,

J. F. Seegitz

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One Response to Teach in Korea – The Interview.

  1. Pingback: Stay the Course | SeegitzWrites.com

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