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BANGKOK 18 August 2019 07:39
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Ijustwannateach

Teaching Job Interview Checklist

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I originally wrote this over on Ajarn.com, and I think it's still good advice, so I'll repost it here:

Checklist For Avoiding Bad Jobs

Here are the most crucial bits of information to get. Any waffling or refusal to give a straight answer means unless you're all trussed up and ready to be jerked around like a chicken on a string, you should be outta there:

1. What is the salary? [less than 30K- no way]

2. How many months is the contract? [the correct answer is 12, including pay during school holidays].

3. Do you [CAN you] sponsor me for all paperwork, including teacher's license, work permit, and visa extension? [in the past, a "no" answer meant you had to evaluate your risk. These days, I'd recommend running on a "no." Up to you- the dodgy jobs should pay more to make up for the risk, though].

4. HOW SOON can you get this paperwork processed? [the correct answer is SOON, with a promise to pay reasonable compensation for any visa trips necessary while they dawdle.]

5. If the job is less than 40K a month, you WILL of course pay for all these visa/WP fees, WON'T you.

6. How many hours will I be teaching? [the dodgier the WP and the lower the pay, the fewer this should be- let's say for 40K and no WP it should be about 15-16 max].

7. What kind of insurance is on offer, considering that I am not on the 30B Thai government scheme [try to ask this one with a straight face]. If there is no insurance, naturally you will be paying me more so I can purchase my own private insurance.

Assuming the school passes the bare facts of life stage above, it's time to estimate the bullsh!t level at the school. There will always be some BS- it's inherent in schools, probably. Everybody has his own level of tolerance for such things, and so I can't tell you exactly when you should cut and run- but if your school gives the wrong answer to most of these kinds of questions, you might put them a bit lower on your list:

BS Factors:

1. When are the starting and ending times for work? Are these the REAL starting times, or will I be sitting around drinking coffee while the parents watch their kids doing yoga and singing the dorky school song?

2. About how many events a month are teachers required to attend outside normal working hours [teachers' meetings, parents' meetings, school festivals, seminars, brainwashing sessions, etc.]?

3. Does the school have/provide books [especially native-written books and not that awful Singaporean crap], or is it an unwritten job description that I make/photocopy my own? Will I be getting extra pay for this work?

4. How many management signatures/days distance am I from permission to make my own <deleted>' copies for my students [especially if you don't have textbooks]? [naturally, you DON'T expect teachers to pay for the copies for their students, DO you.]

5. Does the school have whiteboards or chalkboards, and does the school have markers and chalk for them?

6. Does the school have "special" rules that may seem unusual to outsiders, such as:

a. No fans or ventilation, but airconditioning is not allowed

during select times of the day.

b. Entrances and gates are locked and monitored so that

you, too, will have the feeling that you are in prison.

c. All 20 people in your teachers' room must do all their

paper work on your ONE computer [without printer].

d. Teachers are judged by administration on their

clothing, by their students on how much of a clown

they are, by the parents on how easy they are to

walk all over, and by the tests on how well the

students do. Despite the possibility that one or two

of these may get in the way of three or four of the

others, failure to achieve the desired level in any may

result in immediate dismissal without explanation.

e. That "one old guy" can abuse anyone he likes and get

away with it without being fired, but no one knows

why.

7. Are we required to attend such fine things as "summer camps" in the middle of our holidays in cold, mountain cabins with a bunch of snoring Thai teachers?

8. Is there a discipline policy? What is it? Who will back me up on it when the inevitable snivelling loser of a child goes home crying to his mommy after I prevent him from knifing the guy in the next desk?

9. Of course, all the students pass- it wasn't even a question- but am I allowed to engineer the WAY they pass or there some officially desired result? If so, what is it?

10. Is there a curriculum or am I making that up, too? If there isn't one, who will tell me what I'm supposed to be teaching? If you won't tell me, then will you at least not blame me later for not teaching what I was supposed to?

Finally, on top of this, go for as many goodies as you can. Schools these days are more desperate, and some of them even want to hire real teachers. Aside from the compensations for not having adequate paperwork or asking the teachers to do extra work outside the normal job description of teaching, don't forget to ask for:

1. Resign bonuses

2. Biannual or annual plane tickets to visit home

3. Housing allowances, especially if the school is in an especially expensive area

4. Internet access

5. Raise schedules

Good luck! I'm sure I've forgotten something, so I'll add more another time.

"Steven"

P.S. Naturally, if possible, one should get the answer to as many of these questions on the phone- reluctance for the school to answer may be taken for many items as the undesired answer. At some schools, furthermore, forbidding types may be doing the interview- in which case it might be better to ask {firmly} for some time with one of the other farang teachers to get a realistic picture of what's going on at the school.

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Thanks for serving up all these tasty morsels from your larder, Steven.

I'm wondering if you could say what your assumptions are about qualifications, experience, etc for the checklist. Under 30K without any TEFL certificate or experience, might not be so clear cut. Same goes for most of the other stuff.

One lower down the pecking order usually is well served by a higher BS threshold.

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I originally wrote this over on Ajarn.com, and I think it's still good advice, so I'll repost it here:

Checklist For Avoiding Bad Jobs

...

Finally, on top of this, go for as many goodies as you can. Schools these days are more desperate, and some of them even want to hire real teachers. Aside from the compensations for not having adequate paperwork or asking the teachers to do extra work outside the normal job description of teaching, don't forget to ask for:

...

1. Resign bonuses

2. Biannual or annual plane tickets to visit home

3. Housing allowances, especially if the school is in an especially expensive area

4. Internet access

5. Raise schedules

Thanks for these suggestions, most of which I would have not thought of ; I will be looking for a teaching position in the not-too-distant-future . I do have a couple of questions though:

By "Resign Bonus" you mean when you get fired they let you claim that you resigned and pay you and end-of-job bonus?

Speaking of bonuses - I've heard that a lot of workers in Thailand get End-of-Year type bonuses that can be a substantial portion of their total pay. What about teachers ? Should one ask about this when applying for a job?

Once again, its quite generous of you to provide loads of hiqh quality info. :D:o

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It's a great list, as are several other helpful lists that IJWT/Steven has provided in the past year. However, some of them are partially "wish lists," that aren't too practical or real-world for the newcomers, some folks in the provinces, or those who don't already have solid gold authentic credentials.

The crazy national bureaucracy has made it very difficult for any school to do everything legally. So, of course, a non-Thai teacher gets caught in the Catch-22 situations.

The way Thais (even with Master's degrees in education) answer questions, it would take you several hours of interview to get clear answers to all those questions. And the process might brand you as a troublemaker. I'm not sure I know all the answers to that list yet, at either of the schools where I've worked at least one semester.

I got lucky. I didn't ask nearly enough questions before starting at either school, and I hardly got any reliable answers. Somehow, we've muddled through it all, so far. But then, I can afford to get by without some of the perks, and don't have all the same problems that most newcomers have.

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Thanks for serving up all these tasty morsels from your larder, Steven.

I'm wondering if you could say what your assumptions are about qualifications, experience, etc for the checklist. Under 30K without any TEFL certificate or experience, might not be so clear cut. Same goes for most of the other stuff.

One lower down the pecking order usually is well served by a higher BS threshold.

^Good points- I'm assuming for the purposes of the thread that the job-seeker has a least a bachelor's in *something* plus a TEFL qual or a few years equivalent experience. Those with more quals should IN THEORY be able to find and demand better conditions, and those with fewer should IN THEORY be forced to put up with worse. Unfortunately, what actually happens is that MOST jobs here are cookie-cutter identicals, and the good and bad teachers fall into them randomly.

A Master's degree in anything gets you into the university jobs pretty easily, and experience in a SUBJECT (especially maths/sciences) is appreciated in all EP programs.

However, just given the bare minimum quals I've mentioned, the minimum conditions I've listed SHOULD apply in the market here- unfortunately, the market doesn't really work.

That's why I recommend to those who CAN that you turn down jobs that don't meet the minimum conditions, to put pressure on the market!

"Steven"

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Thanks for these suggestions, most of which I would have not thought of ; I will be looking for a teaching position in the not-too-distant-future . I do have a couple of questions though:

By "Resign Bonus" you mean when you get fired they let you claim that you resigned and pay you and end-of-job bonus?

Speaking of bonuses - I've heard that a lot of workers in Thailand get End-of-Year type bonuses that can be a substantial portion of their total pay. What about teachers ? Should one ask about this when applying for a job?

Once again, its quite generous of you to provide loads of hiqh quality info. :D:o

Sorry, I see how this is unclear- I mean a re-sign bonus- in other words, you get a bonus for staying with the school and signing a new contract before the end-of-year vacation- this is good for you and the school- you get more money right before a vacation, and the school gives you an incentive to stay the whole year and the next.

These kinds of bonuses are rare (and their payment is even rarer) in Thailand, but it never hurts to ask- it's a teacher's market, after all, even if the schools haven't figured that out yet! I *have* had one offered to me in the past- and I left the school too early to get the bonus (for a better offer)!

You're quite welcome. When I started living and working in Thailand it was WAY too confusing and difficult- unnecessarily so. I'll be happy if I can help any others to avoid the pitfalls I fell into.

"Steven"

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^^^ PB's right, and his situation is a bit different than mine. So to further clarify, this list is for teachers who must live (and plan for the future and possibly a local family) on their wages as teachers, especially those who are in the primary working years of their lives, the 20s to 40s. To accept anything less than this for any lengthy period of time is shortchanging yourself if you have no other financial arrangements. It also assumes you are resigned (enthusiastically, no doubt!) to living in THIS country most of the rest of your life, and not some country where costs are much higher.

"Steven"

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Oh, and regarding the "troublemaker" aspect- most places are so desperate for decent workers, they're happy to help you out- up to the point you've signed the contract, then- "Hey, you signed, what're you complaining about?" So I don't think it HURTS you to ask for these things up front- most likely you'll still get an offer if any was ever forthcoming, and if the school feels it must give you these things to get your services, it may cave in and do it- but you have to have some idea what to ask for in the beginning, and that's the purpose of this list!

Plus, considering someone a troublemaker for asking for DECENT perks is in itself a sign what working for the school will be like!! There're too many schools around to worry so much about being rejected by only one.

"Steven"

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Sorry, I see how this is unclear- I mean a re-sign bonus-...
Amazing how a little dash will change the way things seem to be.

My original interpretation was not a deliberate sarcasm, which of course makes it hilarious on a re-read.

Oh, and regarding the "troublemaker" aspect- most places are so desperate for decent workers, they're happy to help you out- up to the point you've signed the contract, then...
This is of some interest to those who will be looking into Teaching in the LoS in the near future. I'm going to open up a topic in a couple of minutes to ask about this.
...but you have to have some idea what to ask for in the beginning, and that's the purpose of this list!

Plus, considering someone a troublemaker for asking for DECENT perks is in itself a sign what working for the school will be like!!...

"Steven"

Excellent points

:o

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This is more of a FAQ type thread, so it never did get many posts, but considering the number of new posters in this area I thought I'd bump it back up for another view....

"Steven"

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It's HIRING SEASON, so I'm bumping this thread back up again for the sake of anybody looking for a job- remember, for a brief time, it's the Teacher's Market of all Teacher's Markets in Thailand- *you* should be interviewing the *schools* pretty aggressively for the best deal. Use this list as a guideline for what you can/should ask for/about!

And good luck, all!

"Steven"

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By the way, there's a site out there which is reviewing Thai schools and agencies... its name is Thaischoolwatch... and if you put the ol' www in front of that and follow it up with the normal ending for a company, you'll get to the right site. Worth a look to see if your prospective school has a lot of people out there who hate it already or not.

"Steven"

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There's a lot of really good advice there.

One thing that I look for in any contract is no mention of exclusivity. At Nava Language School they had that clause - which seemed fine for a newbie - as I was - but once I settled in the area I got approached about doing privates - my school got wind of it and I was threatened with the sack if I didn't pack them in.

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If a contract requires your exclusive services, the employer definitely should pay you enough to cover all your monthly and annual expenses, medical, and TRIPS ABROAD FOR VISAS. Plus a savings plan. That's at least 40K. Once they start renegging on things like work permit and visa, tell them you'll have to start taking private lessons to pay for your visa runs.

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If a contract requires your exclusive services, the employer definitely should pay you enough to cover all your monthly and annual expenses, medical, and TRIPS ABROAD FOR VISAS.  Plus a savings plan.  That's at least 40K.  Once they start renegging on things like work permit and visa, tell them you'll have to start taking private lessons to pay for your visa runs.

It was amazing the double standards they had - they refused to pay the overtime rate - I was teaching an unacceptable 40 hours a week, yet I couldn't do privates. They were trying to make me quit, so I couldn't get the end of contract bonus.

AUA was a breath of fresh air after Nava. I can't speak highly enough of AUA Chiang Mai.

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