The first interview was at a hagwon or private academy. I am not really looking to work at a hagwon since I have gotten use to not teaching kindy and I like the public school schedule. But I was sold by the ad and I knew the recruiter. He basically sold the school as one of the best. Indeed, as the interview developed, I realized it really was a diamond amongst them all. The interview was on Thursday, after work, and I showed up on-time.
I was greeted by one of the head teachers and was told to take a seat, while she got me a cup of tea. Then she came back in along with another head teacher. I was told usually they conduct the interview with all the teachers and the director, but due to the timing that wasn't happening.
Their questions were really serious and a few took me by surprise. Although I was nervous I tried my best to answer honestly and to share points that I thought would show me as a good candidate. Here are some of the questions they asked:
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What would you do if there was a bully in the class?
- What would you do if there was a shy student in the class?
- Are you comfortable teaching kindergarten?
Although I felt really positive and excited after the interview I found out today that they didn't pick me. There were 4 positions and the recruiter told me they interviewed 7 people. In a way I feel kind of left out of this "secret club" of well treated hagwon workers with amazing pay and an amazing house. But then I also feel relieved because it would have been a 40 hour work week (36 teaching) that included kindergarten kids. At this time, when I am thinking of upgrading to middle school kids, downgrading to kindy doesn't really make sense.
Then came Friday where I had an interview all the way up in Nowon, Seoul.
This was for a Private Elementary School, meaning it goes by the regular public school schedule and has within it all the usual benefits. But instead of using the national curriculum they give English teachers a subject to teach like Math, Science or Language Arts. One of the eye catching parts of this job was that you get to have your own classroom and own grade to teach.
I was excited for this job but the hagwon left me excited to teach for them. However, I tried my best to show enthusiasm at the interview.
I had to leave work after lunch on Friday to get to the school in Nowon at 3:30. Indeed, it took me nearly two and a half hours to get there. I walked up a tree lined street with large apartments on all sides, which made me wonder where the teachers lived. Then I came to the school, which was like a public school but with a great make-over. The kids were running around wearing uniforms and matching little yellow backpacks.
I found the meeting room and was told to take a seat and the coordinator would be down soon. I waited for him over a cup of warm tea. When he came he looked tired and busy. In fact he told me that he has been having a lot of interviews and because of this has been busy. He told me he didn't really have the time to look over my details closely. I said "no problem" and that "he could ask me anything."
As he asked me questions and listened to me talk he looked over my resume and cover letter. Some of his questions were:
- How do you feel about teaching Math?
- Do you need the housing deposit?
- What grades do you like most?
- Why do you like teaching?
- What are your best characteristics?
- Do you consider yourself a really organized person?
The "organized person" question was his way of indirectly asking me if I don't mind it when my manager asks me to do something at the last minute. In other words, how do I handle the Korean work environment? I first answered with the typical, "Yes, I am organized" and then switched into, "Yes I don't mind getting information at the last moment." Basically telling him that I have adjusted to the Korean work environment and understand it all. He smiled at this.
All I can gather from this interview is that the guy has a lot of candidates and so many number of positions. The school has 23 Native Teachers already teaching grades 1 - 6, so I suppose a bundle of those aren't staying on board. He told me he has to work out who fits where and will get back to me by the end of next week. On my way out there was already another guy ready for his interview. Oh, I forgot to mention that I brought with me a folder of my summer camp work to show him. He looked at it and seemed impressed.
I left feeling good about this interview, but at the same time unsure since the guy was a little out of it. I am excited for the school and it's program but not the location.
More opportunities come up every week on Dave's ESL job board and elsewhere. Plus I have a few recruiters on the job. But regular public schools are still too early to look for. In the end, I don't really want to move away from this area and feeling queezy about living in the cement-blockade that is Seoul. But I really want a good challenge next year and will apply to schools that I see could provide this.
Monday is coming ~ what opportunities are around the corner?