Interview #1: EOS in Suwon

The Email
I got an email from a recruiter saying that a school is Suwon was looking for someone who spoke Korean. I have been learning Korean for the past 3 years, but my abilities hardly reflect someone who has been studying for so long. I explained this to the recruiter knowing that it would probably mean I would be passed by for an interview. However, the next morning I got another email with an interview request for that evening.

I was pretty stoked. My first interview! This was really happening! I spent the whole day researching example interview questions, practicing my responses, and asking my Korean friends for advice.

The Offer
Here’s what the job offer looked like:

Job Location: Suwon
Start Date: July 2015
Salary: 2.3 million Won
Grade Level: Kindergarten – Elem.
Class Size: 10-12 students
Work Hours: M W F 9:30 – 7:00 pm; T Th 9:30 – 6:00 pm (complimentary lunch included)
Class Time: 40-50 minutes
Housing: Paid, furnished single apartment
Distance from School: 10 minutes away
Return Airfare: One-way ticket
Severance: 1 month salary after 1 year contract is complete
Vacation: 8 days paid holiday; national holidays
Foreign Teachers: 6
Korean Teachers: 6

So here is where my emotions clouded my judgement. Looking over the offer again, there are key signs that scream HAGWON! (Why I Don’t Want to Work for a Hagwon)

1) Salary = 2.3 million Won
I have never seen this much money offered to a first year teacher in public schools. The pay scale is fixed based upon experience and qualifications. There’s no way I should be eligible for an upper level salary.

2) Class Size = 10-12 students
The typical class size for a public school can be anywhere from 30-50+ students. In my brain, I was thinking, “Oh, this must be located on the outskirts of Suwon. It must be more rural. That would explain the small class sizes.”

3) Work Hours = 9:30 – 7:00 pm and 9:30 – 6:00 pm
A bit odd for a public school. But then again, I currently work at a school that doesn’t start until 8:30 am while the rest of the nation’s schools start at 7:15. Whatevs.

4) Vacation = 8 days plus national holidays
This is where I am kicking myself in the brain. 8 days. That is the standard vacation time for hagwons. A public school gives 20 days. Honestly, I didn’t even look at the vacation time on the offer. I was so enamored with the idea of having an interview, that I didn’t even process that this was a hagwon position.

The Interview
The Skype interview was scheduled to be at 10:00 pm EST / 11:00 am KST. I sat at my computer at 9:00 reviewing my interview responses and thinking about some last minute questions I wanted to ask the interviewer. By 9:55, I am staring down my screen and waiting for the telltale Beep Beep Boop. hwik hwik. Beep Boop. signaling that I had a video call. 10:00 hits. Nothing. 10:05. Still no call. 10:10. Dear God I’m going out of my mind! At 10:12 I get a ping from someone I don’t know. It’s the school. We are finally ready for the interview.

A kind looking lady was on the other end. She couldn’t be more than 40 years old. She had a bright smile and her English was very clear.

Questions include:
Why Korea?
Have you ever taught before?
How will you make lesson plans?
What is your best and worst quality?

English portion of the interview: complete! I did well. Yay! And then she says, “Now the CEO wants to talk to you.”

CEO? That’s when it really sinks in. This is a hagwon. I don’t want to work for a hagwon.

The CEO looked like a cross between Park Ji-Sung and Choi Hong-man. Ji-Sung’s poofy hair and long face, Hong-man’s nose and eyes. He wanted to sample my Korean ability. Uh-huh. So I introduced myself in my broken and nervous Korean, answered a few questions, and practiced my confused-face a lot.

After I fully convinced the CEO that I can’t speak Korean, the kind lady appeared and answered a few questions for me.

The next day, I got an email from the recruiter that the CEO said he needed more time to think about it. I’m not sure what he needed to think about. I was clearly not what the school was looking for. Even knowing this, I worried about what I would do if I were offered the job. Would I be so desperate to go to Korea that I would take a job I didn’t want? After lamenting to and getting sage advice from my besties, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be happy in a job where my employer wanted something I couldn’t give them.

A few days later, I got the rejection email.

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