John Wilson

First impressions count

Get the basics right first


An advert on ajarn.com placed by a Bangkok institution can expect about thirty applications. Yet half of these will be rejected due to their poor presentation, dubious life histories and the simple failure to seem like a teacher. You may not have a teaching degree or much experience but nobody wants to give a job to an applicant whose paragraphs run into one another, whose CV lists events little connected to teaching as an occupation and who shows no evidence of simple courtesies in the introductory letter.

From the other half - about fifteen - your application will be jostling with applicants of equal ability, similar qualifications and backgrounds. There may be a couple of superstars with PhDs or research activity in nuclear physics but they will turn down the job because of the salary. From the remaining twelve, how are you going to be the one who is offered the job during the fifteen minutes you get at an interview?

Common sense is a must

A lot of success at your interview can be obtained by common-sense but it is surprising how many applicants fail to observe just simple observations. During my time at DPU we had many examples: A man with crumbs on his biker moustache applied for a job wearing a grimy Dire Straits tea-shirt, ‘Got any jobs, mate?' Another seedy-looking woman with a law degree did not get to the panel stage because she wore nun's sandals and a cotton dress so faded she looked like a character from Marat Sade.

So ... avoid any tendency to look bohemian. The Thais like people to be rep-roy, that is, smart: take out the body-piercings, cover up any tattoos and shave off that Aleister Crowley beard. Men should comb their hair, wear a clean shirt and tie, women should look smart and feminine (sexist bastards, aren't we). It is no compromise to your values to look like the person you want to be at work - a competent communicator with an educational experience you can pass on to others. The Thais go a lot on appearances - they are more important than your qualifications, so be aware.

Your job is to convince

Another factor is voice. Can this person influence an audience of thirty students? Many of whom may be inclined to continue their breaktime conversations rather than listen to the teacher. During your interview speak a bit louder than normal. At DPU feeble-sounding applicants never got the job. You must convince the panel that you have a personality that will command and communicate itself to an audience.

Ask relevant questions connected to the job. Find out something about the institution before you go to the interview. A question like, ‘What is their English like, already?' makes it seem like you are already on the ball concerning what really goes on in the classroom. It will inspire confidence in you from others.

Finally, show something human about yourself - a smile, a small admission of weakness - interviewers are people too and some may even be as nervous as you are. A smile at the right moment will show you are an approachable person who can make others feel comfortable. At the end of the day success at the interview will depend on whether the panel liked you or not - forget all that stuff about post-graduate research - first impressions count and in your fifteen minutes will remain that way.■

 




Comments

...great thoughts and so true about some of the quality that is being pawned off as teaching material.

By Daniel, US of A (30th January 2010)

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