The Interview Process

Some people are wondering what the ADEC interview process is like. Since I’ve actually interviewed twice, I’ll share my experiences and compare them a bit.

Last year, 2011, Teach Away set up interviews in May at a hotel in downtown Atlanta. I was the first interviewee to arrive. I had my packet of papers with me–copies of my passport, extra passport-sized headshots, and all the paperwork required. Actually, I hadn’t managed to get the extra headshots printed yet, so after the interview, I hiked down to a CVS, printed a sheet of the things, and brought them back. My interview wasn’t very lengthy–perhaps 20 minutes. The old fellow I interviewed with was personable enough, but he seemed virtually uninterested in my teaching ability, asking a few questions that barely skimmed the surface of that issue. He mainly wanted to know that I’d be able to function thousands of miles from home in a new culture. As we were wrapping up, I told him about my wife’s status, and he recommended that I withdraw my name. ”Will ADEC blacklist me if I do that?” I asked. ”No, ADEC won’t,” he said. ”I don’t know about the headhunters [Teach Away]. For my part, I’d recommend you as a teacher.” After some thought and discussion, Jenia and I took his advice. I devised a graceful e-mail to my Teach Away coordinator, and she was great about it.  She also told me that I had been selected, and would have received an offer.

This year, Teach Away set up interviews with ADEC at a different hotel in Atlanta. They were held sooner–February–and the pressure on interviewees was ratcheted up a notch. I was interviewed by an ADEC tag-team–an Arabic representative and an Australian woman (because, as I understand, the Australian education system is the one that ADEC has molded their system after), and while they were nice enough, they were much more interested in my teaching abilities than last year’s guy. They wanted to know what my classroom looked like, what kind of activities I’d use to help students make connections to the outside world, examples of things I’d done, etc. They offered very little feedback as I answered, so I wasn’t sure if I was meeting their expectations or not. The interview was a solid half hour, scheduled very tightly. The woman asked me a series of questions designed to determine if I’d do okay with Arabic society, emphasizing the likelihood of accidentally offending someone. She wanted to know how I’d deal with that. Would I make an effort to seek out forgiveness? Would I reach out to my other coworkers to try to help me with the situation, and so forth. Eventually, she said I did fine with my answers. They gave me literally 2 minutes to ask 1 question, so I asked: “How do I avoid offending anyone?”

Don, the guy in the ADEC video that you see on Teach Away’s website, had joined us at that point. He laughed and said, “You do it. You offend people and you learn by experience. You’ll learn not to hold the door open for a woman and follow after her, because you’ll smell her perfume and be aroused, and this will offend her honor. You’ll learn not to get in an elevator with women,” and he made several other comments of that sort.

I left feeling like I’d been through the ringer–where last year that wasn’t the case at all. When I compare the two interview sessions, there was a lot of waiting this year. I had to wait nearly an hour for my interview (which gave me the chance to get to know others who were waiting–a good thing), and then after waiting around for a while, the feeling in the interview itself was that it was rushed.  The notification process also took a while after everything was said and done.  It took a solid 6 weeks to be notified that I’d been selected as a candidate and had received an offer, whereas last year it only took about 2 weeks (of course I aborted the process before I received an official notification).

If you still have questions about anything interview related, let me know.  I’ll happily do what I can to answer.

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26 thoughts on “The Interview Process

  1. I was selected for an interview, but had all interviews cancelled for April until further notice. Thanks to the internet I found that ADEC has cancelled all kindergarten interviews for this month. Since I am still preparing for an interview whenever one comes available again, just wondering if you had any new pointers as to what they are actually looking for.
    Thanks

    • The main things, Wendy, seem to be much like they are in the States. A classroom that is engaged in active learning using a variety of approaches is something they look for, and they want to know what your classroom management is like, as that’s a major factor here. I’d suggest being able to give examples of activities and what you taught with them. While I have no idea what kindergarten entails for differentiation, they are emphasizing differentiated instruction and use of technology in the secondary (“cycle 3”) system. Hope this helps. -Shon

      • Do you think they can drop me for the fact that I did not include technology on my interview for circle 3? All the other questions were given out correct . I had an interview with them yesterday.

      • I could only speculate for reasons why or why not, but don’t feel too bad about it. There’s no reason to be hard on yourself. If you really wanted to, you could probably apply with Emirates National School. They’re pretty similar to ADEC in most ways.

  2. Good morning,

    I have enjoyed your posts to this blog. I passed my phone interview back in January and have been scheduled for the in person interview on the 13th of April in New York City. I was wondering, will it look bad if I dont have all of my paper work ready to turn in at the in person interview? Also, if Im completely honest, Im really nervous about this whole in person interview being that its going to be via Skype and only about 20 minutes at the most. I will be interviewing for middle school mathematics and have years of Math/Science teaching experience. Perhaps, you could offer some advice when it comes to interviewing for the teaching positions and have you heard of a percentage of acceptance of teachers to teach in the UAE? Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Bruce, thanks for reading. Glad you passed your first interview. I’ve done a couple of interviews via Skype; it’s not so bad! But, to clarify, you’re going to NYC for a Skype interview? Sounds odd. About documentation: bring copies and originals of everything you might need; I’d suggest scanning everything, as a backup, and carrying your jump drive with you in case you need it. If you’re worried about having everything notarized, authenticated, and etc., don’t fret over that. You’ll have time to do it after you know for sure if you’re getting the job. I don’t know what the percentages are of teachers that are accepted and declined, nor do I understand why some people have passed or failed interviews. As far as the interview itself goes, I mentioned the questions I was asked–they’re pretty standard teacher interview fare: what’s your classroom look like, do you differentiate and how, do your kids work in groups, what’s an example lesson that went well, how do you manage your classroom. As for advice: don’t be nervous. They need you (much) more than you need them, so relax. Emphasize your flexibility, adaptability, and your strong classroom management abilities. Have a good reason for wanting to teach abroad and be able to articulate it. Be able to discuss what you’d do if you offended someone inadvertently, given cultural differences, too. Generally speaking, I’ve always found interviews to go better when I didn’t stress over them–you may think you’ve found your dream position, and it may turn out to be quite different in reality. Just rehearse a bit over the next few weeks so you’re comfortable and put your mind at ease. Maybe also have a couple of perceptive questions for them–you might ask what the percentage of teachers who complete their contracts is, or possibly why behavior tends to be such an issue. Another suggestion is that ADEC has a new leader these days, and you might ask how she has impacted ADEC and what those changes have meant for teachers in the last year.

  3. What are possible reasons for failing the interview? Is there anyone we can contact to get that info? I mean why we failed? The agent doesn’t give any info. Also how long do you need to wait to apply again? I have a friend who interviewed and failed, then interviewed a month later and passed…. Any thoughts???

    • I’m not aware of any way to check on that. I know of at least one couple that failed the interview and they seemed like perfect candidates to me. Judging by your friend’s experience, it’s possible to try and try again! Also, if you’re determined to get to the UAE as a teacher, don’t forget there are many private schools you can look into, or public-private hybrids like Emirates National School.

  4. I have failed my first interview too and it’s okay…
    Remember in depth answers; refer to your experience when answering…. Elaborate

    Good luck

    • I recently failed too, my heart is so hurting. This was going to be a dream come true for me. I went there thinking I will meet up with a panel in person, however it was on Skype. I know I failed maintaining eye contact, relating my experience when responding. How long will it take for me to interview with ADEC again? If I interview again as they are still hiring, will they pick that out when I interview?

  5. I interviewed with ADEC and failed, how long must I wait to interview again? Will they pick that up when I interview again if i am still blacklisted?

  6. Hello! I really enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m interested in teaching in Abu Dhabi…and was curious to know if you could provide more insight about your teaching experiences abroad such as living condition, traveling to/from work, classroom size, compensation. I also had a question (not sure if our would know) but what if we are asked about our religion! I have a friend who recently travelled to NYC for a skype interview, and she was asked her religion…and she replied her family is Catholic…would this response hinder her ability to get an offer? Thanks, VT

    • Hi VT, sorry, things have been so busy that we haven’t been checking the blog much as spring has arrived. Well, living conditions vary like crazy. If you go back to the first part of the blog, you’ll find quite a lot of information about our experience with it. Generally, apartments are unfurnished but quite good. Traveling to/from work is your responsibility. If I never posted about it, we bought a car. Driving is not more difficult than it is in the USA, although the roundabouts are crazy. My interviewer indicated that candidates are supposed to be one of the big 4 religions, so your friend should be fine. Class size for me was always 32 students. How have things worked out for her?

      • Thanks so much for the detailed response! The info is very helpful. My friend was offered a position for cycle 3 science. She is very excited about the opportunity, and has encouraged me to apply. But I’m a bit hesitant as I’ve heard some info that seems somewhat unappealing….and I’m wondering if you could shed some light? For example, questions like:
        1. Are all the regions safe for single non-emirates?

        2. What is the average cost of utilities such as electric, water, internet, etc? Is one required to pay like a lump sum for fees related to bills (I’ve heard something like this but not sure if I’m phrasing it properly)?

        3. Do you know what the cycle 3 science classrooms are like? Typical work day schedule? Behavior of cycle 2/3 science students (boys bs girls)?

        4. Are teachers given any sick days? For example, of a teacher is sick, can he/she request a substitute?

        5. Can teachers resign before the 3 year contract…like in 1 year if things aren’t ideal? If so, are there any serious repercussions?

        Would appreciate any feedback you’re able to share. Thank you in advance! 🙂

      • Hi VT!

        1) I’ve never felt in the least unsafe in the Emirates, and neither has Jenia. As long as you apply common sense, you’ll be safe as anywhere else–perhaps safer. According to an article published recently in The National, the UAE is the second safest country in the world, behind one of the Scandinavian ones. It’s really safe.
        2) Our utilities weren’t too bad, but the prices have been on the rise. When we left almost two years ago (!), prices had increased for expats (but, puzzlingly, not for the Emiratis, who could certainly afford to pay bigger usage fees). We paid $100 a month for internet, and usually around another $50-100 for gas, water, and electricity, if memory serves. With ADEC, we were totally on our own when it came to utilities, and it was between the various companies involved and us. Some required deposits.
        3) No experience in science classrooms, unfortunately, other than what my friends have told me. They seem to be as hit-and-miss as an English position, with schedules varying a bit from strict 7am-3pm schedules, and others being more flexible; behavior is never excellent, so know what you’re signing up for. Consider it this way: overprivileged kids without a strong desire to learn what you have to offer. If you understand this going in, you’ll be okay. Boys typically behave considerably worse than girls, but my female friends who work with girls have shared a few stories that demonstrate girls aren’t always angels.
        4) No substitutes. If you’re sick, your colleagues will probably be plugged into your holes. Still, you do get a reasonable number of sick days, but I don’t remember the number now–as long as you go to a doctor and get a note so that the absence can then be logged online (you are responsible for uploading scans of doctor’s notes within a time frame) and excused.
        5) I’ve never heard of a resignation being a big hassle from the employer side, at least as long as you’ve gone through the proper processes, taken care of your bills, and so forth. You might have to pay back some of the furniture allowance they provide for you if you resign early.

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