Questions to Ask When Interviewing for a Teaching Job in Thailand
As a former teacher in Bangkok, and one who still lives in the city, I learned quickly that interviewing for a teaching job in Thailand required a whole new set of questions than I had ever needed to ask in similar interviews in the US. That’s because, unlike teaching English in many other countries, there are different requirements in Thailand for both you and for the school.
If you don’t ask the correct questions in your job interview, however, you won’t know what these requirements are until you start the job and realize accepting it may not have been the best idea.
As a new teacher in Thailand, there are five questions you should always ask in an interview for a teaching job anywhere in the country. If you don’t, you really may live to regret it.
Does the school pay for my visa and work permit? The better schools usually pay for a teacher’s visa and work permit in Thailand. Government schools or lower level private schools often don’t. Some Thai universities sometimes even don’t. That’s why you need to find out at the job interview who will be paying for your visa and work permit as, in excess of 6,000 baht ($200) every year, it can get a little pricey.
My suggestion? If they say they don’t and you have another job offer, go with another school that does pay for all the legal paperwork costs. That’s because, if they don’t, it’s often an indication that the school will be ‘cheap’ in other respects as well.
How many hours will I be required to teach each week? You should make sure you get as much of a concrete answer to this question as possible as teaching hours have a habit of increasing quite rapidly in Thai schools. Anything around 20 hours a week or less is doable. Some Thai schools still expect their western teachers to teach 28 hours or more, however, and that is far too many hours.
If you do accept a job that requires you teaching close to 30 hours a week, be warned you will burn out quickly. That’s why you need to know up front exactly what their expectations will be, and make your decision accordingly.
How many hours a week will I be required to be at school? While I’ve always presumed I’d have to be at the school I taught at for a full work day ie: 7:30 to 4:30, oddly some western teachers in Thailand seem to think they should be allowed to go home when they’re not teaching.
If you believe the same and this matters to you, make sure you find out from the interviewer if you will be required to be in school the entire day, or if they will allow you to leave once your teaching for the day is done.
Does the school have other western teachers and can I meet them? Most schools in Thailand will have several western teachers already working there. My last school had 15, so it was easy for potential new-hires to meet a few of us and ask some basic questions.
If the school doesn’t allow this, it’s usually a huge warning sign that things may not be as hunky-dory as they should be with the foreign staff and it may mean that particular school is one to avoid.
What types of teaching materials does the school have and use? Thai schools often have extremely limited teaching materials. That means the school may not have assigned textbooks for each class, supplemental materials may be non-existent and, if they allow you a look in the school library, you may discover the English section is barely there/.
While this was never a deal breaker for me, it’s a good idea to find out before you accept a job. That way you can spend some time before you teach your first class preparing your own materials and scouring the internet for supplemental information you can print out and photocopy.
Some schools will reimburse you for the cost of teaching materials, while government schools or low-level private schools may not. Be sure to find that out as well if you do discover you’ll need to provide all your own teaching materials as, if you can’t afford to buy a few textbooks, you’ll need to spend longer doing research online.
Even if you ask these five questions in a job interview in Thailand, you will still have lots of surprises and shocks once you start a job and realize it’s not remotely what you expected.
That being said, I’ve loved every teaching job I’ve ever had in Thailand, but did discover getting just a little extra information out of the interviewer before I made my decision went a long way to ensuring my happiness. Make sure you do the same.