Questions about Korea: 20 to ask your employer before getting off the phone

When you decide to pursue a position you think looks good, you’ll end up with a phone interview with the school. If they offer to hire you without that interview, you probably shouldn’t pursue that position.

Once you’re on the phone, though, they’ll ask you some questions. But don’t forget: you need to ask them questions too.

Here are some important ones to get answered before you get off the phone. Most likely, you won’t get a better chance than that first call:

  1. What is the monthly salary?
  2. What is the maximum number of teaching hours per week?
  3. How long is each class? How do “teaching hours” correspond to working hours (for example, if each class is only 50 minutes, does that 50-minute class count as one teaching hour)?
  4. What day is payday?
  5. Do other foreign teachers work there? How many? Can I get their email addresses?
  6. What are the school policies regarding discipline? What are the procedures, in class and beyond?
  7. Is there a maintenance fee that I must pay for my apartment? How much?
  8. Will I have to make my own teaching material, or will it be provided?
  9. Will I have access to my own computer at work? My own desk?
  10. How long has the school been open?
  11. What’s the maximum number of students in each class? What’s the minimum number?
  12. Where’s the nearest supermarket?
  13. How long does it take to get to the nearest subway station? Can I walk there?
  14. How long does it take to get to work? Can I walk? Do I need to catch a bus, a subway?
  15. What time do I need to get to work? What time can I leave? If I’ve finished my classes, can I leave?
  16. Will the schedule ever change, like for summer or winter intensives?
  17. Will the school buy the plane ticket ahead of time, or will I have to buy it and then get reimbursed?
  18. Will someone be available to help me set up a bank account, pay bills, signup for Internet, etc.?
  19. Is the housing furnished? What does that include (bed, washer, TV, etc.)?
  20. What happens if I have to leave early for whatever reason? Do I have to pay back part of the plane ticket (how much)?

Some of these you can get answered by reading over the contract, but it might still be a good idea to ask over the phone too.

Beyond the basics of salary or whatever, the most important question to get answered is the one about other teachers who work there now or have in the past. You need to get some email addresses. If they won’t give them, split. If they do give them, though, then you have a whole other round of questions to ask.