Top tips for applying to teach in an international school

Andre Double tells School Management Plus some of the things to consider before applying to teach in an international school

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André Double, founding head of primary at Invictus School Shenzen was able to share some invaluable advice on applying for international school teaching positions when he took part in our recent expert panel on teacher recruitment and retention.

Here, we have summarised some key points from his presentation for all aspiring international school teachers.

André has had a varied international career, working in China for the past four years, and before that on the island of Penang in Malaysia, somewhere he calls “one of the jewels in the crown of the international teaching circuit.” He is also the author of Leading Your International School, published in the autumn.

1. Ask yourself why

Start with why you want to work internationally. Was it recommended by a friend or member of your family, is it about developing your career or building a financial pot for the future?

André says: “Before you start the process of applying and updating your resumé, really try and nail down why you are looking to apply internationally. That reason behind why you are applying will have an effect on the type of school that you end up applying to.”

2. The application process is different for international schools

“The first rule when it comes to applying for an international school teacher post is to start early,” says André. “The calendar of international recruitment is getting longer. There were traditional windows in October and November, but it’s been getting earlier and earlier each year.”

“A head at an established school said he receives anything up to 400 applications per post.”

Also be careful to check you meet the minimum qualifications and experience criteria, or your application could be discounted at an early stage. Many schools teach the International Baccalaureate so be prepared to speak about your experience of this, or any ongoing training relating to the IB.

“I recently spoke to a principal from quite an established school and he told me he receives anything up to 400 applicants per post so it really is worth thinking are your skills matched for that particular post”, says André.

3. Do your research

Your first port of call is the school’s website, says André. “Use the website for everything to do with curriculum, culture, workforce, and accreditations. Check if the school has an accreditation or is working towards one. “If you can draw that information out and integrate that knowledge into your application you are giving yourself that extra edge. If you’ve been through an accreditation process yourself you’re adding extra credibility to your international teacher application.”

“Applications are a skill. The more you complete, the better they should become.”

André also recommends using the school website to investigate basics such as the staff, students, facilities, the principal and leadership team. “Look at the school’s core values and try to align them with your own. Do your values match the ones of the school you want to apply for? In certain instances they may not — that may act as a deterrent to apply for a particular school and that’s ok because the application process is a two-way process.”

4. Sell yourself and your own vision

“When you are writing a personal statement, draw your statement back to student outcomes, what factors are there that you know, that you understand, that have a demonstrable effect on student outcomes?”

5. At the interview stage, ask purposeful questions

“Ask the school about their achievements, what they’ve learnt from online learning. Use your application process as a mini research project,” says André.

He also recommends taking notes in the interview. Afterwards, reflect on the questions you asked, talk about your responses to those questions with others.

6. Beware of the ‘don’ts’

Don’t reach out to anybody at the school in the process of your application, it doesn’t look good.

Don’t over elaborate your claims. Be moderate. Your employer will check them.

Don’t try and hide gaps, tell them what you did and why. These are modern times, be positive in your approach to sharing what you did.

7. Try again..and again

And finally, if you are not succesful, try again. You will get better at applying every time.


André Double is the founding head of primary at Invictus School, Shenzhen, China. He has worked in four international schools – one in Malaysia and three in China, covering IB, Bespoke and the Cambridge Curriculum models. Prior to working internationally he taught in a state school in the U.K. for eight years. André is happy to be contacted via LinkedIn about any questions you may have about working in an international school, so do reach out to him.