Ten Things Not to Do in a Job Interview for an EFL Teaching Position in Thailand

Dress nicely for a job interview - this man is dressed perfectly - copyright fuzzcat, Creative Commons


If you’ve been to a job interview as a teacher in Thailand or have interviewed western (farang) teacher yourself, how some farang teachers behave in job interviews probably won’t surprise you. As a western teacher who has interviewed other western teachers in Thailand, I must admit, I’m not that surprised any more either. Some farang teachers do or say some pretty weird things. But, if you’re a farang teacher and planning to interview for teaching jobs, make sure you don’t do any of the following “Top 10 Things Not To Do in a Job Interview in Thailand”. If you do it will guarantee you won’t be offered the job.

10. Don’t Bring Your Fake Degree With You – It used to be buying a fake BA degree on Khao San Road in Bangkok was easy. Plus, as none of the Thai schools ever checked if your degree was fake or not, it was safe to use it in a job interview. In the last two years though, Thai schools and the Ministry of Education (MOE) have clamped down on fake degrees. So, don’t even bother bringing one to a job interview. It’s likely to be checked and, if the MOE does find out, they’re reporting these ‘teachers’ to Immigration, who is summarily chucking some of them in jail and then deporting them.

9. Don’t Show Up Smelling of Beer From the Night Before – Some farang teachers in Thailand are here only for the girls and the beer. I’ve been at several job interviews and interviewed farang teachers myself who smelled so badly of beer, it was hard to be in a room with them.  Few schools are going to hire you if you reek of alcohol, so at least get off the booze the night before your job interview and get a good night’s sleep instead.

8. Don’t Wear Shorts, T Shirt and Flip Flops – In three interviews in Thailand now, I’ve witnessed young western guys showing up for teaching interviews in shorts, t shirt and flip flops. I guess they think Thailand is a hot country (it is!) so it’s fine to be casual. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thais expect you to be in dress pants, dress shirt and a tie for a job interview and, for women, a conservative skirt, a dress shirt and full dress shoes. You’re going for a teaching job, not a day on the beach.

7. Don’t Keep Asking About the Salary – I’ve interviewed several farangs who couldn’t stop asking about the salary. Sure, ask about it once. But, if you keep harping on about the salary, the interviewer will think you only care about that and not actually teaching the kids, and they’re unlikely to hire you.

6. Don’t Ask For a Salary Advance – A friend who owns his own teaching agency told me he has a couple of guys a month asking if they can have an advance on their salary – in the job interview! If you’re already needing money, that tells the interviewer you don’t have any, and you’re not likely to be a good risk to hire as a teacher.

5. Take the Tests if They Ask You To – Another friend who runs a teaching agency, told me he’s had a few farang teachers who, when asked if they could do a quick grammar or computer test after the interview, said they couldn’t as “their girlfriend was waiting for them”. If the interviewer asks you to do a quick test, do it. Because if you’re not even confident enough in yourself to show you can do the job, why should the interviewer be? (Oh, and your Thai girlfriend waiting for you is not a good enough excuse!)

4. Don’t Show Up Hours Late – If you’re interviewing in Bangkok, or in a city where you’re not familiar with the directions or the traffic, allow plenty of time to get to the interview. I’ve had several teachers show up two to three hours late thinking it’s acceptable and that the traffic jams in Bangkok are a reasonable excuse. Sure, Thais aren’t the world’s best time keepers, and being 10-15 minutes late if you truly did get lost or stuck in traffic is fine. Two or three hours isn’t.

3. Don’t Go For a ‘Smoke Break’ While Waiting For the Interviewer – I’ve interviewed a couple of farang teachers who decided to go for a ‘smoke break’ because they had to wait for a few minutes. When it was their turn to be interviewed, they were nowhere to be seen, and appeared ten minutes later stinking of smoke. Er, no, thank you. I’m not hiring you. You might not be able to teach in a classroom for an hour without nipping out for a quick ciggie.

2. Don’t Diss Thai Culture in Your Job Interview – I once interviewed a teacher who, because I’m a farang, obviously thought it would be fine to go on and on about what idiots Thais were. And I’m going to hire you, why? Not much else to say on this one. Just use your common sense, and don’t diss the culture you’re going to be working in. No school wants, or will, hire a teacher like that.

1. Do Not Go For an Interview With Your Thai Girlfriend in Tow – I used to think this was a joke doing the teachers’ rounds in Bangkok, until I witnessed it several times myself. Older western ‘teachers’ showing up with their Thai girlfriend in tow, and the Thai girlfriend hanging around the waiting area complaining that it was taking too long.

If you must get your Thai girlfriend to bring you to a job interview, at least have the common sense to leave her in a coffee shop somewhere near the school. Don’t bring her to the job interview itself, it’s not professional. Especially if she looks like a prostitute (and yes, I’ve seen several of these girls at job interviews with their ‘boyfriends’ too!). Thais can spot a prostitute a mile off and are not likely to hire a teacher that’s ‘dating’ one.

Knowing how to behave in a job interview in Thailand really isn’t that difficult. Just use your common sense, and don’t do things you wouldn’t do in an interview in the west. Thais are relaxed, sure. But they’re not stupid. And they’re certainly not going to hire a teacher who can’t even follow basic interview rules and behavior.