Landmines that Can Blow an Interview

November 30, 2017

.The interviewer has been firing off one question after another. You’re doing great! Then comes the toughest question of all:  Do you have any questions for me?

..If you don’t have at least a few questions ready you’ll look unprepared, or even worse, not seriously interested in the position. Asking the wrong questions, however, can be more detrimental to your interview than asking no questions at all…

..What are wrong questions? Wrong questions are those proven to ‘blow’ an interview already going well. Avoid such landmine questions and you’ll put yourself that much closer to being offered a position.

ISR Recommends Avoiding These Landmine Questions:

..ME questions:  We all want to know about salary, vacations, health insurance, professional development, housing and all the benefits that come with the job. Keep in mind, though, your goal is to show the interviewer how you can benefit their school and not the other way around. If you’ve done your homework, most MEtype information can be found in recruiting materials, anyway. Don’t waste the interviewer’s time with questions purely focused on employee benefits until you’re closer to signing a Contract.

..Don’t get Personal:  You definitely want to establish a good connection between you and a school recruiter, but it’s not a good idea to ask personal questions that won’t fall into a public information category. For example, if you spot a college football ring on the interviewer’s finger and you’re a team fan, by all means start a conversation, but keep it light and superficial. Avoid personal questions about the interviewer’s family, ethnicity, etc. and save that conversation for the first faculty social get together.

..Yes/No Questions are a No/No:  Answers to questions that require a simple yes or no answer are usually found on a school’s web site. Stick to questions that require brief but sincere, informative dialogue. You want to establish a rapport with the director and stand out in their mind when making a final decision as to whom to hire.

..Don’t get stuck on one Topic:  Asking multiple, involved questions about one aspect of the school may cause the director to jump to the conclusion you are preoccupied or worried about something. Instead, ask questions about various facets related to teaching at the school and demonstrate an interest in several aspects of the job and/or the community.

..Avoid questions that arouse Suspicion:  Is there a medical/drug test? How do you handle poor performance? When, exactly, will you call my references? What is your in-school internet usage policy? Will you be monitoring my social media profile? Any chance to move into admin? How did I interview? These questions may arouse suspicions regarding your true motives and/or background, and can kick you out of the running as a candidate.

  Research a school before an interview to help you form insightful questions and show you’ve taken the time to learn about the organization. Demonstrate more than a superficial interest in the school and location to put you far ahead of the competition. Everyone loves someone who contributes. Asking the right questions will put you into that category of candidate!

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Teaching Candidate in Hijab Claims Discrimination by Kuwaiti School

October 19, 2017
Fouzia Khatun on Instagram

..When Fouzia Khatun applied to teach at the English Playgroup, Kuwait, she thought wearing a hijab and sharing common religious beliefs would help her to be a good fit for the job. To her complete dismay, she later received an email from Caroline Brooks of the HR department, saying her employment depended on a willingness to remove her hijab while teaching: “…parents do not want their children taught by covered teachers, this is an English school.” 

..On her Instagram page Fouzia displays the email from Caroline Brooks. The school denies the allegations, saying Caroline Brooks was not in their employ. Later, however, they changed their statement reporting, Caroline Brooks has been “disciplined.” The school asserts that Fouzia’s application for employment was not accepted due to her use of social media and that action has been taken against her for “slanderous comments.”

..…The English Playgroup issued the following statement:
“The English Playgroup and Primary Schools employ qualified teachers from all nationalities, religions and backgrounds who serve students as excellent and caring teachers. Allegations of discrimination against hijab-wearing staff are untrue. Our schools proudly employ many hijab wearing teachers and administrators across our schools. The allegations against the school have been disseminated by an unsuccessful overseas job applicant who was refused employment because of inappropriate behavior as illustrated on her social media platform. The opinions expressed by a new employee in the HR department are against company policy and necessary disciplinary action has been taken.”

..Fouzia is quoted as saying that her Instagram page was private before this incident, so a claim of “inappropriate behavior” on social media is unfounded. The English Playgroup later released photos on Instagram of teachers wearing a hijab while on the job. Fouzia is suing the English playgroup.

..ISR Asks: Is this an isolated incident? Was it simply a mistake on the part of an HR employee? To your knowledge, do Muslim women experience this type of discrimination in Kuwait and other Islamic countries when applying for jobs in Western-oriented schools and companies?

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Tempted to Remove a School from YOUR Resume?

October 5, 2017

Resumes are marketing tools, not legal documents and nothing says you’re obligated to list every job you’ve ever had. YOU get to decide what to include and what to leave out. But be prepared:  Gaps in your teaching history may require an explanation. Good reasons, for example, range from taking a volunteer position to spending time back home caring for an aging parent.

3 Good Reasons to Leave a School OFF Your Resume

..1)  You suspect the school Director may say something “unflattering” and/or untrue about you to a perspective employer. This is especially valid if you left on sour terms.

..2)  The school’s poor reputation may be detrimental to your career. Such schools may be characterized as “diploma mills” that guarantee top grades/university placement to parents who can meet stiff monetary requirements for their kids’ tuition. Spend too many years at such a school (where you’re considered not much more than a servant to overindulged, rich kids) and you may have trouble finding a position at an authentically “good” school.

..3)  The teaching position was for 1-year or less, or you broke contract and left early. Short stints at International Schools can draw negative attention from prospective employers. You may have had sincere, valid reasons to leave early but employers can be quick to pass judgment.

Leaving some of your teaching history OFF your resume is a personal choice and something you’ll need to consider carefully for reasons quite obvious. ISR asks:  Did you ever take a school off your resume? How did it work out for you? What’s your advice to teachers considering dropping a school from their resume?

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

September 7, 2017

We’re mere weeks into the 2017-2018 school year and some International Schools are already pressuring teachers to declare their intentions for the 2018-2019 school year: Will you be staying or leaving next year?”  Not too many years ago it was the trend for schools to wait until after the winter holidays before asking teachers to declare their intentions. Why the change?

One obvious reason is that the big Fairs continue to move their venues closer towards the start of each school year. ISS, Search, ECIS and the lot of them seem to be in competition to hold the first Fair of the recruiting season. We note a total of 5 Fairs (one of which is a Leadership Fair) spanning October through December of 2017. Clearly, not all school will be attending these Fairs.

Other than teacher recruitment, what would motivate International Schools to push for a stay/go commitment so early in the school year? Could it be to separate-out faculty for preferential treatment? It’s well known some schools only offer professional development opportunities or leadership positions to teachers planning on extending for at least another year. Using ‘commitment’ information for dubious purposes, veiled by claims it’s needed for recruiting purposes, is highly unethical in our opinion.

Most teachers report that when forced into an early decision, they will choose to leave if there is the slightest doubt in their mind about returning for another year. To punish those ‘on the fence’ who would prefer to leave their options open, some schools have announced a substantial financial penalty and/or have threatened to blackball teachers who indicate they will renew their Contract but later change their plans.

Which of the following best describes your school’s stay/go commitment deadline?

Take our Survey & let’s compare:


References That Can End Your Career

August 3, 2017

School Directors like to criticize International Schools Review for providing a place where International Educators anonymously share information on Schools and administrators. Yet, these same Directors feel justified in writing confidential Letters of References about teachers and even discussing teachers secretly by telephone and/or at Recruiting Fairs.

..There’s a huge difference between these types of reviewing. When a teacher shares their thoughts on a school and/or its admin with other ISR members, the Director has the opportunity to read what has been said and respond in writing. However, in the case of confidential references in writing or in person, teachers have no knowledge of what is said about them, let alone by whom. It’s all done behind their back and someone with an ax to grind can destroy an educator’s career!

..An ISR member tells us he and his wife asked their school principal to send a Letter of Reference to a school they were considering for a career move. Being “cheap and lazy,” the principal eventually handed the letter over in a sealed envelope and told the couple to mail it themselves. Not trusting the principal, known to be a back-stabber, the couple opened the letter — the picture it painted was of the couple as lazy, back-sliders, incapable of performing their duties. Upon confronting the principal it came out that her intention was to keep them at the school since she “depends on their expertise.” The couple left the school and later exposed this administrator on ISR.

..Certainly there are two sides to every story and just as there are poor International Schools, there are poor-performing International Teachers. In any case, ISR believes Teachers have the right to know what is being said about them and to respond. Any leader of an educational institution lacking the fortitude and substance to look a teacher in the eye and say to them what they would otherwise write behind their back is, in our opinion, not qualified to lead and should resign.

..If you’ve ever wondered why you were turned down for jobs you thought were ‘in the bag,’ it could be there’s a negative Letter of Reference lurking in your dossier, dead-ending your career.

..How do you determine who wrote the crummy letter so you can remove that person from your references? The ISR Member Area is a good place to start your investigation because often School Reviews include information on a Director’s history of writing poor Letters of Reference, or refusing to write any letters at all. If you suspect foul play to be keeping you from landing a new position, do the research and “tidy” up your recruiting package.

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Can Recruiting Candidates Trust School Web Sites?

July 27, 2017

Are school web sites honest personifications of the International Schools they represent? As a recruiting candidate, should you blindly believe what you see and read? More than a handful of educators have discovered that school web sites can be nothing more than carefully crafted propaganda whose sole purpose is to disguise the truth and lure in the unsuspecting. With more and more get-rich entrepreneurs jumping into the International School “business,” it’s obvious there’s no limit to what some school owners will do to lure teachers and students to their “schools.”

What You See May NOT Be What You Get!

Here’s some examples on ISR of how intentionally deceptive school web sites have tricked teachers into accepting a position at schools from which they would otherwise RUN:

In her Review, a teacher reveals that her school’s ultra-professional looking web site is hosting a bird’s-eye, panoramic view of what they want you to believe is their campus. However, in reality, the school only rents a floor in one of the many building at an impressive university campus. All grade levels are crammed onto this one floor. She reports that it’s complete chaos.

A Physical Education teacher whose passion is teaching swimming, water polo, etc., discovered upon arrival at his school that what he saw as an Olympic-size swimming pool was nothing more than blue paint on the ground. It was later explained to him that this “web rendering” is the proposed site and size of a future installation. The school was “sorry” he misunderstood.

A high school English Literature teacher, desiring a truly international teaching experience, tells us she was tricked into accepting a positon at a local school where most of the kids spoke/read/ wrote poor, if any, English at all. To create an international school image, she says the school used the children of the international teaching staff as models on their web site and furthered the deception by stating their students hold passports from 32 countries around the world. The teacher explains in her Review that the reality is the majority of these 32 countries are represented by local kids with dual citizenship, who have never been outside the country in which the school is located. This English Literature teacher broke contract soon after arrival.

..These examples and more Reviews on ISR illustrate how International Schools may stoop to deceptive digital practices to lure in unsuspecting educators. These reviews are sent to ISR by teachers tricked into circumstances they would otherwise avoid and serve as a heads-up warning. International Schools Review strongly suggests you do not allow yourself to be tricked by a school’s slick digital presentation. Use ALL sources available to you to verify that “what you see and read is what you get.”

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For Newbies: Advice for Landing Overseas Teaching Positions on the ISR Forum

July 13, 2017

For Newbies:
Advice for Landing Overseas Teaching Positions on the ISR Forum

If you’re new to International Teaching & want someone to evaluate your chances of landing an Overseas position, who do you turn to for advice? Hands down, the best individuals to consult would be International Educators already in the field & teaching candidates in your same situation who have already picked up useful information. With this thought in mind, prospective overseas teachers regularly post details of their qualifications & unique family situations to the ISR Forum. They then invite Forum members to offer personalized advice. Here’s some recent examples from the ISR Forum: (Note: the Forum is subject to our Terms of Use)

Assorted Newbie Questions: I am 30 years of age and Dutch. I have a MA in Globalization and Development Studies (fully English-taught program) and a BEd in History from a respected Dutch university of applied science. I have some prior experience in teaching… Answer this Forum Post

Advice Needed: I am really sold on becoming an international school teacher but I could use some advice as to the appropriate route. I am a recent graduate with a major in Economics…Answer this Forum Post

My Situation: I’m currently teaching at a MS in the US as an EC teacher (special education) in my second year and am certified to teach Special Ed k-12th and just added a certificate to teach MS Language Arts, and plan on getting my social studies certificate for MS. How viable am I as a candidate to be an International teacher?… Answer this Forum Post

Would We Qualify as a Teaching Couple? I am currently teaching SEN at an IB International school with my husband who is a “trailing spouse.” What would the chances be of us getting hired as a teaching couple? Answer this Forum Post

Teaching Couple Teach Same Subject: My husband and I are very interested in teaching internationally. However, we both teach the same subject, health and physical education. We are both certified pre k-12th. Before I spend an exorbinant amount of money applying to recruiting agencies… Answer this Forum Post

More Posts to Consider: Special Education teacher with small family / Dual-citizen questionJob hunting with non-teaching African partner / Am I International School Material? / Question from a couple looking to teach abroad

Do any of the above situations sound like your situation? If so, there’s helpful advice on the ISR Forum. Do you have advice to offer or questions of your own? We invite you to visit the ISR Forum to share and resolve individual recruiting questions.

To post to the ISR Forum you’ll need to take a minute to register. Your ISR Member log in is not activated to also log you into the Forum. When you post to the Forum, your chosen user name will display so choose with this thought in mind. The ISR Forum is Open to All. If you haven’t done so already, Register Now! Be sure to see the activation link in your email.