University Job Interviews in South Korea: Not Getting Any?

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Maybe you’ve been searching for a long time for a university job in South Korea, but are finding it difficult to get interviews, much less job offers. There are some common possible reasons for this. But, the best advice I can give you is to check out the book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams to make sure you are not making any obvious mistakes.

Let’s continue on with some free advice here! The book is less than a cup of Starbuck’s coffee in Korea though.

These are the most common reasons why you might be getting university job interviews in South Korea.

Top 10 reasons why you aren’t getting university job interviews in South Korea

Without further ado, here they are:

Lack of Education

It’s really hard to get a university job in South Korea without a Masters degree, or even a PhD these days. A few years ago, you could slip by with a BA degree. However, times are changing and requirements are far higher these days. Get qualified with a Masters in TESOL or Education. With this in hand, you’ll jump to the front of the line for university job interviews.

What about a University Job in Korea with only a BA?

Lack of Experience

It’s not easy to get a university job with only a year or two of teaching experience. This is true even if you have a Masters degree. It’s kind of a catch-22. Universities in South Korea want people with experience teaching in universities.

However, it’s tough to get experience if nobody will give you a good job. It’s like anything though-you just have to be in the right place at the right time to get your foot in the door. Places may also be reluctant to hire you if you have never taught adults.

Age: Too Young, or too Old

If you are either younger (less than 30) or older (more than 50) than the ideal, it can be really tough for you to even get interviews. It doesn’t matter how well-qualified you are. If you’re too young, you’ll be too close in age to the students. Koreans often retire around the age of 50 from their first career. The result is a definite stigma against older workers.

Related: 103 Things to Do to Get a University Job in South Korea

Gender and Country of Origin

North America females are generally preferred and if you don’t fit into either of those categories, you might be overlooked in favour of someone who is both of those things. Not much you can do about this one. It’s just the way that it is in Korea!


As I mention How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreamsnumerous times, appearance truly is everything in Korea.

If you are anything but well-dressed and groomed and reasonably attractive, it can be quite difficult for you to get a job. You have to put a picture on the resume and hope that the university likes what they see. Obvious physical defects and not being white are often huge strikes against you. Or, maybe you don’t present that well at an interview due to things like B.O., facial hair, weight or ill-fitting clothes.

Fix whatever you can. For example, put on your best suit and get photos professionally done. Wear that best suit to the interview. Then, don’t worry about the rest.

Lack of Knowledge about Teaching

If you make it to the interview stage, but keep failing it may be because it is obvious that you have no idea about teaching. Almost all interviewers will ask at least one question about teaching methodology to sort out the amateurs from the professionals in the classroom.

Consider this carefully and buff up on your English language teaching knowledge if necessary by taking a class such as the Celta. I wasn’t exactly solid on the teaching theory, or basic English grammar until I did.

Lack of Networking

If you are not getting university job interviews in South Korea, it is perhaps because you don’t know someone on the inside. Many of the top jobs are never advertised publicly and are instead filled through word of mouth, through friends of current foreign teachers. If you are reclusive or not a cool person and just don’t know that many people in Korea, you will have a hard time finding a university job.

Lack of Professional Development

See “Lack of knowledge about teaching.” This can really set apart the “real” teachers from the “amateurs.”

Non-Professional Application Package

If you are not getting university job interviews, consider your package carefully. I offer a wealth of advice in How to Get a University Job in South Korea on this topic.

Not Applying to Enough Jobs

In the book, I talk about what to do if you are not a top candidate and have a few strikes against you. For example, your country of origin, lack of experience or age. I suggest applying to ANY and ALL university jobs in South Korea. For university job interviews, it’s all about numbers. The more you apply for, the more you have the chance of getting.

Treat it like your full-time job and get obsessed with it. You need to apply for at least 50+ jobs in order to get a few interviews and eventually jobs offers. Maybe you are a less than ideal candidate but you are being too picky and only applying to the very top jobs that even someone well-qualified would have a hard time competing for.

A couple years out in the countryside working at a job with a high number of teaching hours, less than full vacation, or low pay will help you tremendously in competing for the best jobs in the future.

Bonus: you may also not be in country, or you may not be available during the week for interviews. This can seriously hinder your chances of being considered. More details here: What about Weekend of Phone Interviews?

Basic Requirements to Get a University Job in South Korea

Need more Information about Korean University Jobs?

If you read all the way to the end of this post, we can safely assume that your answer is “yes.” Well, then you’ll need to check out: How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams. It’ll give you all the facts you need to know about uni jobs in Korea and how to get them. The good news is that it’s a quick, easy read and can be done in a single afternoon.

The book is available in both digital and print formats. The (cheaper!) digital one can be read on any device. Just download the free Kindle reading app.

Check out the book for yourself on Amazon:

Is it useful to visit universities in person? Find out here:

Have your say about Not Getting Interviews

Any tips or tricks for someone not getting interview offers for university jobs in Korea? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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