Recruiting-Fair ‘Speed-Dating’ Disasters: How to Avoid Them!

With just a precious few minutes to sell yourself to a school Director seated across a table, you take a seat, assume your most welcoming body language and introduce yourself. You’ve stood in line forty-five minutes for this chance to arrange a formal interview and you intend to make the most of it!

“What the !!*#?,” you say with a grimace as you learn the position you’ve been invited to recruit for is gone, awarded to another teacher even before the Fair began! With $2500 in travel, hotel and registration expenses, the only solace the Director has to offer is, “Sorry.” Apparently, you now realize, previous correspondences between you, the school AND your invitation to interview are meaningless…

No wonder teachers often refer to recruiting Fairs as ‘cattle calls.’ At a bare minimum this school should have propped up a white-board displaying closed and open positions. To add insult to injury, you’ve just wasted the better part of an hour that could have been spent approaching the recruiting tables of other schools.

Recruiting-fair ‘speed-dating’ has its disadvantageous, but YOU can avoid this and other disasters by taking steps to look out for #1. Here’s a few ideas that will help keep you safe:

1. Leave absolutely NOthing to chance! Arrive a day early and put notes in the boxes of each school that has invited you to sign up for an interview. Ask them to verify the position you are seeking is still open. You may even get them to give you an interview time without waiting in line. A simple “yes” or “no” with a time written across your note and dropped in your mailbox will do. If they can’t bother to do that, you don’t want to work for them, anyway. Right?

2. With or without an invitation to interview, don’t waste time in lines without their job openings displayed. While you’re killing time in lines that may lead nowhere, other schools are filling up their ‘dance cards’ without you even getting a chance to introduce yourself.

ISR Member suggestion: You might consider a small sign of your own — an 8” x 12” (or smaller) cardboard sign will do. Once in line, wave it around and look for a confirmation that your position is still open. If nothing else, you’ll get points for ingenuity and not waste precious time in dead-end lines.

3. Share your recruiting experience with other teachers and learn from their experiences. How a school conducts its recruiting procedures is usually an indication of what it will be like on the job. This sort of information is openly included in ISR School Reviews. You don’t need to have worked at a school to share what it’s like to recruit with them. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About!

 Share a School-Specific Recruiting Experience

(ISR Note: Our School Review submission form contains a numerical Rubric for teachers who have worked at a particular school.
To submit a Review of your recruiting experience, please rate all Rubric questions as a ‘1’ and describe your recruiting experience in the “Comments” section. We’ll remove your numerical entries before your recruiting Review goes live.)

Comments? Something to add? Please scroll down.

8 thoughts on “Recruiting-Fair ‘Speed-Dating’ Disasters: How to Avoid Them!

  1. I contacted a Director in Dec. We had a couple of emails back and forth. Then nothing. Guess I am no longer a candidate.

    BTW all expenses going to a fair are tax deductible as a business expense.


  2. I went to a job fair this year and ended up accepting a position with a school that was not at the fair. I interviewed with them before the fair and accepted their offer mid-fair. I was disappointed with what I felt was “A LOT of wasted time” at the job fair. I also didn’t like the rush to fill positions before the fair. So, yeah, I think I might just stick with Skype next round. The fairs just aren’t what they used to be 😉


  3. I depend on trusted international teaching agents and the TES jobs website. Also word of mouth once amongst my amazing colleagues. I have been most fortunate. I don’t understand why teachers spend so much on recruiting fairs?


  4. Totaly agree – enough fairs for me too! These guys are ripping teachers off when there’s more demand for us than ever. Why should good teachers have to pay to find jobs anyway? Which other professions expect the best people to pay to find jobs?
    I think Skype is the best way. I use jobs boards and Teacher Horizons to connect me to good schools and then do interviews directly by skype. Definitely the way forward!


  5. I am done with recruiting fairs. Unless you are young, pretty and have a specialty area highly in demand recruiting fairs are a waste of money. I spent $2500 five years ago and got NO job offers despite experience and more than 1 certification area. (Boston Search fair). I heard again and again, ” Oh sorry we hired in Bangkok before.” So the next year I paid $3000 to go to Bangkok Search fair in January. There I heard, “Well we have more fairs to go to so will make a decision by end of February…”
    In what other profession do you spend $5k and get nothing in return. There are too many candidates at these fairs and too few jobs. So my advice- avoid like the plague unless cheap to get there. Plenty of good jobs out there via SKYPE. In fact I would like to see ISS and Search put out of business as they charge big placement fees to schools which reduce teacher salaries to compensate, offer no benefits as they don’t do due dilligence on schools, and they encourage the propagation of lies by requiring “confidential” references which remain in a candidate’s file. (Lack of checks and balances) Of course this is just my opinion.


  6. Interesting article. I had a very similar experience. I was invited to interview with my first choice school. I stood in line for almost an hour to get up to the table. It was then I learned that they were considering doing away with the position due to a decline in their student body. If I was interested I could still interview. As I later learned, they hired a teacher for the position the day before the fair. How did I know? I met the teacher quite by chance at one of the “mixers and told me he had been hired.” They interviewed me just in case this guy didn’t show up. These schools treat us like “cattle” and have little regard for our future. Turn about is fair play and teachers shouldn’t feel bad about accepting a position and then bailing on the school for a better offer. I know that sounds really bad of me to say that but that’s the way I feel about it.


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