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Interview questions...acceptable?!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by imanewteacher2007, Nov 27, 2015.

  1. imanewteacher2007

    imanewteacher2007 New commenter

    Hi all, need some advice. Have applied for an international school in HK and have researched as much as I can but can't find the answers to the following questions:
    - directed hours
    - salary

    I obviously need to know the answers but when do I ask them? I've never had to ask as have always worked in the UK.

  2. TimeBomb2015

    TimeBomb2015 Occasional commenter

    Don't agree about the directed hours. You are a teacher. You teach a normal teaching load. If you are work shy you might ask. The more prestigious a school, the longer hours you will be expected. One very good boarding school in Malaysia will expect you to do 22hours, plus prep, plus Saturdays, plus extra curricular.

    As to salary. Do you understand the question?
    Salary in HK might by £6000 a month. Once you take accommodation, taxes and the very high cost of living into account, you may have £20 left over to send your the UK savings account, but as it will cost £21 in fees to send, you may as well spend in on a bar of chocolate.
    A salary of £2000 in India could leave you with £1250 per month to send to the UK, all due to the very low cost of living.

    The question should not be, how much do I get for the least amount of work I can get away with, but:
    1. How can I contribute to the wider aspects of your school?
    2. What is the savings potential at your school?
  3. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    As above directed hours - no. It will make you sound like a workshy applicant who's only applied because they think it will be easy. As for the salary, do as much research as you can beforehand on living costs and then of course you will need to ask at the interview (or before) what the salary is. Without the living costs info though it will just be a meaningless number
  4. imanewteacher2007

    imanewteacher2007 New commenter

    Thank you.

    Regarding salary have researched costs and know how much they will subsidise rent but get paid well living in central London and knowing salary will help calculate with living costs etc.

    The school is rather prestigious and I am concerned about my soul being taken away! I bloody well work hard enough as it is without then having to do extra curricular after school also.
  5. TimeBomb2015

    TimeBomb2015 Occasional commenter

    Thank you for your interest is working at our school. I regret to inform you that there were better candidates who understood that extra curricular activities are part of the role of a teacher. Good luck in your future search for a school that has such low expectations of its staff.

    Mr Reasonable
    Director / Principal / Bottle Washer
    Any International School
    Anywhere in the world

    I'm getting to distinct impression you are misunderstanding the advice offered. How much do you save a month on your well paid London salary?

    My advice. Stay in London.
  6. imanewteacher2007

    imanewteacher2007 New commenter

    Don't believe I am but thanks.
  7. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Well, if your goal is to receive an offer based on the interview then I wouldn't really feel the need to ask either question in a first interview (unless the interviewer brought them up or gave you an obvious opening).

    Yes, those are perfectly reasonable questions to ask and if you are making a life-changing decision then you need honest and accurate answers to those and many other questions.

    Some school head types, however, do seem to object to being asked those type of questions in a first interview where you are basically supposed to be selling yourself to the school. Why risk the chance that the person who holds the keys to a position with this prestigious school is one of those prickly sorts?

    These types of schools generally will have 2nd interviews with those they are most interested in and/or they will make you an offer where the salary question is answered. You then have the opportunity to ask all of your questions from the much safer position of having an offer in your pocket rather than risk alienating someone and always wondering what went wrong.

    Just my two cents.
  8. imanewteacher2007

    imanewteacher2007 New commenter

    Thank you. That's the answer I was after. I don't want to come across as someone who isn't passionate about teaching but I want to know exactly what I'm getting myself in.
  9. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Some advice, if you wish to take it.

    Don't go in blind. Find out what the cost of living is and what your minimum acceptable standard of living is (including saving money). Then work out, as far as you can, what you will accept as a salary to cover that cost of living. Don't forget to cover incidentals such as visiting family back in the UK, medical insurance if the cover offered by the school is not enough, the cost of setting up a home etc. etc.

    You will need at least a month's salary to cover your expenses setting up the house. In my experience, not matter what the school supplies, there are always additional costs for this, that and the other.

    Once you have added all this up and come to a figure, stick with it. This is important. In the rush of being offered a job, it is easy to think that you'll be fine because the school is amazing. You will not be. Unless the school pays you enough for you to be financially secure and not live month to month, you are going to be anxious and miserable.

    Don't compromise. If the school is not willing to give you what you have calculated you need, then walk away. If they want you enough, then they will raise their offer.
  10. imanewteacher2007

    imanewteacher2007 New commenter

    Yes have been doing that. Useful advice thank you
  11. Principal-Skinner

    Principal-Skinner Occasional commenter

    I'd support the work shy line if you ask about hours. If you refuse to do co-curricular, I wouldn't hire you.

    Reasonable to ask about salary before the interview, but not before submitting information required. Salary is often calculated on a number of things. Those who ask before submitting their details are likely to be ignored. Case in point: Recently there was an irate Australian who kept pestering me for details before she would complete the form sent to her. I ignored her for a while, as she hadn't submitted the required details for me to be able to answer her, and I had 150 other candidates to write to who had submitted the form. When she demanded I answer her, I simply deleted all her emails with a single click.

    Your reference to London pay tells me you are a little green on these things: as two or three others have said, it is not the headline figure that counts, but what you can buy and for that amount. Hong Kong it not somewhere you go if you have debts in the UK: accommodation alone with eat more than half of your salary for something very small, whereas in Malaysia or Thailand one can have a mini palace for the same amount - had I spent half my salary in Malaysia I'd have had change from renting the penthouse suite at the block I lived in.
  12. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I second most of what's been said. Cost of living is much more important than raw salary.
    And I reiterate the message about extra-curricular. It is a flat-out requirement at most international schools. Non-negotiable. Usually the bare minimum adds up to 8 to 16 hours per school year, but there's no way out of it. And quite honestly, schools are looking for teachers willing to put in far more than that. If you were running a school, wouldn't you be?
    A fair number of schools also pay teachers who go above the minimum for ECAs. Maybe you could make that work for you as you pursue more disposable income.
  13. lunarita

    lunarita Lead commenter

    It's perfectly reasonable to want to know about salary and working conditions including hours before accepting a job. What schools consider "normal" demands varies immensely from one school to another. TB above mentions a "very good" boarding school which demands 22hrs teaching plus prep plus saturdays plus extra curricular. In a boarding school this is usually compensated for by longer holidays but I know of a day school which makes similar demands of staff with a lower than average holiday quota as well. I wouldn't consider applying there.
    What teacher wouldn't want to know these things before committing? It would be unprofessional not to be informed about the detail of what's expected before signing a contract.

    I agree that under normal circumstances it can wait until after an interview; however if travel to that interview means significant costs either in terms of time off current school or money, then it's reasonable to want an idea beforehand as well.

    I suspect that nasty surprises in either salary/cost of living or workload are behind some of the "runners" we hear about here. A bit of openness beforehand would help both sides.
  14. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    Yes it's perfectly acceptable to ask both questions. Clearly, asking them to pay you the earth for clocking on and off on the bells five days a week will come across badly. It's how you ask - and the better schools would expect you to ask both questions - in return for above and beyond commitment from you they will look after your work life balance. They will also address any concerns you have about pay, cost of living and savings potential.
  15. the3wordposter

    the3wordposter Occasional commenter

    Sign the contract.
  16. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    When I conduct initial interviews over the phone, I expect interviewees to ask pertinent questions regarding pay and conditions of employment, etc. etc.

    If anything, I am usually a tad concerned if the interviewee does not ask any questions regarding the conditions of employment. While it wouldn't disbar them from being called to a second interview, it would give the impression that they had not seriously considered the implications - financial or otherwise - of moving to our school and the country that it is in.
  17. TimeBomb2015

    TimeBomb2015 Occasional commenter

    How many interviews do you do? I prefer to shortlist and do one batch at a time, references sent in advance of the interview. Perhaps in a very large school - 250 teachers plus, you may need to have the head do a final interview, but surely for normal sized ones the heads and panel can just get on with it.
  18. Kiko2

    Kiko2 New commenter

    How interesting timebomb. You enthrall with every word! image.jpg
  19. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    We are a somewhat particular school and careful as to whom we hire.

    Longlist candidates are given a telephone or skype interview. All shortlist candidates for all positions - no matter how junior and where in the world they may be - are invited to the school for interviewing. We pay all costs associated with this.

    The second interviews are two day affairs, so that a number of interviews can take place. All interviews are conducted on an individual basis, with no overlap of interviewees being in the school at the same time.

    We don't do panel interviews. In my experience they are a waste of time. We prefer being able to get to know the interviewee and see how they are with different people (teaching staff, students and non-teaching staff).

    It is not a perfect system (we hire the wrong person sometimes), but it is very important to us that our interviewees are met face to face.
  20. TimeBomb2015

    TimeBomb2015 Occasional commenter

    No system is perfect.
    If you're based in Europe or have exorbitant fees you can fly candidates out for every post. Most schools do not have that luxury and only do it for the most senior staff.
    Having a small panel to discuss the candidate is invaluable, in my opinion.
    Each to their own.

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