Interview #2: Pyeongtaek Songhwa Elementary School

June 25, 2015
Recruiters are confusing the daylights out of me. I have my initial contact, Amanda with Teach ESL Korea, SunYoung from GoESLAsia, Joseph with STAR Teachers, Hero/Roy from HandsKorea, and Scott and Sean with EZ English. It gets so confusing trying to remember who I talked to and what I’ve told to them.

On Thursday, June 25, I was just sitting down to an outdoor concert with my friends when I got a phone call. It was Scott from EZ English. I haven’t heard from him since the first week of April. Via Skype, Scott informed me:

“all gepik declined you due to no expeorence, gyopo etc
but i ketp recommended you and finally iset up 1 interview
and no more gepik job” [sic]

Yay an interview! However, he gave the interview time and information to the wrong person. He didn’t even realize the mistake was made until the school already talked to the wrong candidate and the school informed him that they were not talking to a 30 year old gyopo. He begged them for another interview time and got one… at 1:30am my time. To top it all off, I was the one required to make the long distance call to Korea for the interview.

So there I was-
Sitting at an outdoor concert where the band leader somehow made everyone feel awkward while stroking his own ego and freaking out about an interview at 1:30 in the morning. Not only that, but I was going through a rollercoaster of emotions. Scott said that one of the reasons I was turned down for GEPIK was because I was a gyopo. Korea is a country that is proud of their identity, and yet they still glorify the Western appearance as if it was superior. I knew going into this process that I would run into this problem, but I never thought that it would put a damper on the excitement of job prospects.

After the final awkward song was over, I went home to prep for the interview. Scott had given me a list of potential questions that the interviewer would ask me. All of the questions were typical. Why do you want to work in Korea? What do you know about Korean culture? What is your teaching philosophy? I ran through each question and thought about my responses. Scott told me that the interviewer had a Ph.D. and I should address her as 박사님 (bak-sa-nim). I made a quick Skype call to my language partner to make sure my Korean pronunciation of her name and title were accurate and made a test call to my friend in Korea to make sure I could connect. [How to Make a Long Distance Call to Korea] It wouldn’t work on my cell phone, and I had to use a landline. Thank goodness my mom still insists on having one! It took a few tries to figure out which sets of numbers to use and which to leave out, but I finally figured it out.

At 1:30am, I called.

Me: 안녕하세요 이00 박사님. Hello Dr. Lee XX.
Interviewer: 네 안녕하세요. 박사님이 아니에요. 선생님이에요. (Hello. I’m not a doctor. I’m a teacher.)
Me: (shit.)

It’s always good to start off an interview with a misunderstanding, right? Anyway, here are some of the questions I was asked in this interview:

– Why do you want to teach in Korea?
– Do you have experience teaching?
– How long are you planning on staying in Korea? Our principal doesn’t want to hire someone who will leave in a year.
– I’m sorry to have to ask this, but our principal doesn’t want to hire someone who is getting married soon or having a baby. Are you planning on starting a family soon?
– Do you speak Korean?
– Is it okay if I ask you a question in Korean and you answer in Korean?

The last one got me. I was pretty certain that the interviewer asked why I wanted to become a teacher. I answered as best I could considering I never perform well in Korean during interviews. She responded by saying, “Yes… thank you for answering in Korean. That was a really difficult question.” Was it? Did I misunderstand the question? It didn’t seem like a difficult question at all.

Anyway… end result? Another rejection. Lack of fluency in Korean was sited as the reason.


4 thoughts on “Interview #2: Pyeongtaek Songhwa Elementary School

  1. SenoritaSassyPants says:

    Hello, I just accidentally stumbled upon this post and your blog whilst filling out a Fulbright grant application (needing to remember how to spell this elementary school in my past employment section). You totally dodged a bullet with being rejected from this school! I worked there from 2010-2011 and it was pure and total Hell for me- the students were the only thing that kept me going there, and the co-teachers of the other expats that I met in my time there. They would never pay me the correct amount on time, did not assist me with getting anything established (even after I learned some basic functional Korean) and basically had me in tears almost every week for a year. I didn’t read your update- or even if you found a position in Korea, but thank your lucky stars that you did not end up there! 🙂 The one saving grace other than your students was the one teacher you interviewed with- who indeed does have a doctorate- I helped her make a play entirely in English for her class to perform in front of evaluators for her PhD. She was the only kind soul to me there (other than the students of course) and really helped me a lot.


    • Thanks for taking the time to post this. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get this job, but if the situation is that same as it was when you were teaching, then I’m definitely in a better position!


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