Teaching English in Madrid: the TEFL Job Interview

May 24, 2013

Ready to start teaching English in Madrid?


You’re a fresh-faced, idealistic young English speaker, recently moved to Spain.

You’re wearing your best pair of board shorts and and some flip-flops that are so new and so clean that in a pinch you could use them to stir your cocido.

But today, you’re a little bit nervous.


Because today you’ve got your first job interview with a real language school!

You’re looking forward to teaching English in Madrid…


That’s why you’re wearing your new flip-flops, after all.

You’ve even taken the time to run your fingers through your hair before leaving the house. That’s how much you want this job.

You arrive at the language school 15 minutes late (of course, it’s not your fault that they are having the interview at the ungodly hour of 11 AM) and are somewhat disappointed to find that it’s just a small office in a building full of pawn shops, cut-price lawyers and happy ending massage parlors.

teaching english in Madrid, Spain

The secretary ushers you into a small room, where a middle-aged man sits with his feet up on the desk, punching keys on a computer that looks like it was probably found in a dumpster some time in the late 90s.

Meet your new Director of Studies

He looks you up and down. You can smell alcohol on his breath, and you realize that it’s about time for you to start hitting the sangría yourself.

You sit down in a creaky plastic chair.

“So where you from?”

“Well, I’m…” This is your first time in the presence of a DoS (the venerated Director of Studies) of a real institute of higher education, and you can feel yourself tripping over your words. “I’m from this little town in the OC… It’s, like, totally righteous, man… if you know what I mean.”

You don’t know it at the time, but you already have the job. Your “Native-speaker” accent is more than acceptable, and you don’t appear to be dangerous. You’re in.

Still, the DoS asks you a couple more questions. “Gotta CELTA?”

“Well, yeah, I did this, like online course that was like a CELTA, and then I figured, well, might as well come to Spain, I mean, like YOLO, and all that, right man?”

“You speak any Spanish?”

“Well, I’ve picked up a few things since I arrived! ¿Dónde está el baño?”

Welcome to the team. You’ve got a bright future as an English teacher…

And then, he asks you that fateful question.

“What are you doing Mondays at 8:30?”

“Well, I just got here, so you know, my schedule is pretty much wide open. I like to get outta the house and all, so you know, 8:30’s great!”

“I’ve got a client out in Tres Cantos who wants a native teacher. It’s 18€ an hour plus 4€ for transport.”

You do some quick mental calculations. Of course, you’ve assumed that 8:30 means PM. You have no idea that he’s sending you to some industrial park 27 kilometers away. All you know is that 22€ is a whole lot of sangría.

“Sure, sounds good, I mean, yeah, whatever, man!”

The DoS reaches out his hand to shake yours. “Welcome to the team! Payday is the 9th of every month. You’ll be expected to provide your own materials, but mostly he just wants to talk.”

“Yo, that’s cool, man, I’ll just ask him about his weekend and take it from there!”

And just like that, you have your first company classes. Teaching English in Madrid is gonna be awesome.

You decide to celebrate by going to 100 Montaditos so you’ll have something in your stomach when it’s time to start on that pitcher of sangría.


Mr Chorizo.

P.S. For more “humor”, if you can even call it that, see: Teaching English in Spain is So Glamorous and 3 Ways that Teaching English Inflates Your Ego. And if you’d like something more informational, check out my article about making a living as an English teacher, or the pros and cons of living in Madrid. Enjoy!

P.P.S. I haven’t been a teacher for a while now, but I’m still interested in the profession. For more, check out my article about whether the whole Teaching English in Madrid thing is for losers anyway.

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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    1. I just learned by reading English Droid and watching a few youtube videos of real teachers… Plus I know a guy who can make any kind of certificate you want for about 60 bucks.

  1. Can you make a living? Define ‘a living.’

    My mother taught English to executives in Mexico, but would never do the 7am classes for groups – didn’t work for her schedule. She also taught French, and Spanish to transported English-speaking executives. But she did it for travel money – and when she went on a trip, the classes would be on hiatus. She accorded her students the same privileges – and made a nice little secondary income on her terms. She would have made a lot more money being more systematic, but she didn’t need to, and it cramped her style.

    It was good for her, good for her students.

  2. Hi Daniel,

    I visited Madrid last year during the term break to see if it really is for me to make the move.And the answer was an absolute yes!:)
    Since I have had experience mostly working with in Kindergartenthen and adore children, I hoped to carry working with Preschoolers. I then started to search private schools whose preference would be a qualified teacher with British accent,had experience of working with children for almost 10 years.(I was told by some of the Spanish mates that my credentials are more than enough lo land a job at an a international school) . I managed to find a few renowned schools and forwarded my CV but not even ONE responded.
    It was made clear to me that things work differently in Spain in terms of response to job requests etc. Job seeking is not an online thing,it’s more of a “hands on “ approach that you have to walk into schools with your CV in hand. School coordinators don’t necessarily check the emails.

    It seems I’m left with the option of moving to Madrid without a job and going from there which would bevery risky to drop evething,fund the cost of living there myself for an unknown period of time until I get a job..
    I was hoping you can make a suggestion me since you have been living there for over a decade,and seem to have pretty good understanding of the system in Madrid..

    Many thanks in advance.


    1. Hey Aysha, it’s actually not terribly difficult to find a job teaching English – but yeah, you’d have to show up at some places in person to make it happen. Good luck!

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