Interviewing for a position providing ESL support to university students--help!
October 20, 2009 2:38 PM   Subscribe

In a few days I'll be interviewing for a job providing academic support to university-level ESL students. Help me prepare!

As far as I understand, the position entails attending classes with students as a non-participatory note-taker, then meeting with students after class to discuss any questions or concerns they have. I feel fairly well-attuned to this sort of thing--plus I've taught EFL to students with basic conversational skills, tutored both ESL and native speakers in academic writing at the high school and university levels, and lived/traveled abroad enough to empathize with the day-to-day struggles of living in a foreign language and culture. I don't have a TESOL certificate, but I do have an MFA in writing. I'm reasonably confident that, if I get the job, I'll do it well and enjoy it in the process.

The catch is that I'm kind of rusty at interviewing (and have only had one university-level job in the past). Also, for the past half-year I've been working outside my field (as a barista--the classic lousy post-MFA job). So I'm not quite sure how best to prepare. What kind of questions I should expect? What should I make a point to stress/downplay? Bonus: how should I dress (as a late-20s female in a liberal West Coast city).
posted by soviet sleepover to Education (2 answers total)
Well your basic interview preparation is going to be the same as for any other job. I suggest heading to a local library and checking out their materials on interviewing. There are lots of great books that focus on preparing for an interview the same or next day. I'd also brainstorm potential questions and answers that your interviewers might ask - since you'll be providing academic support to students, think "X student has D learning problem. How would you solve it?" "Or Y student constantly denies your assistance. What would you do?" Basically if you think of every possible situation you can think of in regards to the job duties and have a specific solution in mind you'll be better prepared overall. And if you interviewer doesn't ask those kinds of questions, bring up your ideas anyway.
posted by tastycracker at 1:32 AM on October 21, 2009

Your work as a barista gave you some pretty good qualifications for the job:

1) you can understand a wide variety of people when they speak, even if they are mumbling or rushed (which is how a lot of teachers speak);

2) you have an excellent memory (how can you all remember the correct way to order those different coffee drinks?? - it amazes me);

3) you never called in sick or were late (emphasize your dependability - nobody wants an unreliable notetaker).

Good luck - your actual academic qualifications will carry the day anyway, but don't discount what you learned as a barista too!

One thing I would be concerned about, were I hiring a notetaker, is that someone with an MFA in writing might be too worried about making their notes grammatically correct and/or some kind of creative masterpiece, and that this might slow them down or cause them to miss something important. Not sure if this is really an issue, but I know when I deal with interpreters for my deaf students, they are obligated to interpret everything I say for the student, without any editorials or omissions. I would imagine a notetaker would have the same guidelines?

Also, wear what a well-dressed student would wear, maybe some khakis and a nice blouse? ::shrug:: As with all interviews, avoid anything that's too tight, low-cut, ripped, has writing on it, or makes you look sloppy.

Good luck!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:51 AM on October 21, 2009

« Older Bad timing for a new relationship?   |   I hate my job, and I don't know what to switch to.... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.