Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gaba Application and Interview Process

For those of you who wish to work for Gaba, you must understand what the company is about.  Gaba is an eikaiwa based primarily around Tokyo.  Each instructor teaches one student at a time, usually an adult, in basically 50 minute segments.  Gaba specializes in customization; instructors must be able to customize lessons to a student's interests and career.  If you prove you can do this, you're a BIG step toward getting an offer.

General advice for applying to Gaba is what you'd expect:  hopefully you're eloquent enough to write a good cover letter, social enough to be likable, and able to clearly enunciate.  As always, having a good smile certainly helps.

Gaba has several good things going for it.  Instructors pick their own hours to work, meaning you can work morning, afternoons, or evenings from Monday to Saturday.  The pay is rather decent and you're able to make as much money as you're able to work for.  Gaba is also located around Tokyo, so you know for sure where you'll generally be located.  If you enjoy teaching 1-on-1 (especially for those with tutoring experience), this would be a rather easy job to get used to, and you're limited primarily to teaching adults if this is your thing.

There are a few 'shady' aspects to Gaba.  First, their instructors aren't yet classified as employees.  Instead, Gaba labels them as contractors.  This creates a few exploitable loopholes for the company, although this realistically doesn't affect the instructors too much.  One pro is also a con: you're only paid for the hours you teach, not sign up for.  Students decide who they want to work with, so if you're new or other teachers have a larger 'following', you'll be taking home much less money than expected.  Ultimately, this means you won't have a dependable monthly income.

04/06/2011 - Applied to Gaba through Gaijinpot
04/08/2011 - Received e-mail from Gaba asking for more documentation
04/11/2011 - Sent requested documentation to Gaba
04/14/2011 - Contacted by Jim Green, a Gaba recruiter, through e-mail requesting a Skype interview on the 17th.  Interview accepted.
04/18/2011 - Missed the skype interview (d'oh).  Interview rescheduled for April 24th.
04/24/2011 - First Skype interview with Gaba.  I was notified at the end of the interview that I had passed and would need to fill out an interview task--mostly hypothetical teaching situations, etc.
04/28/2011 - Submitted the interview task.
05/06/2011 - Invited for a second, and last, Skype interview.
05/11/2011 - Second interview took place.  This required a teaching demonstration and repeated many of the questions asked during the first interview.  Told at the end of the interview, "I think you have what it takes to work at Gaba" (although this wasn't a formal 'you passed' so don't expect to hear anything positive).
05/16/2011 - Offered a position to work for Gaba.  Given until the 19th to accept or reject the offer.

Other Tips
Be kind, polite, and professional.  Skype interviews are voice only on Gaba's end, but for both the first and second interview I wore a suit and used video.  Don't stress about the first interview, it's all the standard "Why Japan?  Why teach?" questions you'd expect.  For these companies, broadening your cultural horizons is important--they want to know you're interested in the country, not just the job.  You have several days to complete the interview task so don't sweat it.

For the second interview, they'll go through the interview task step by step and ask about each portion.  You'll also need to teach a pretend student; you'll be given the background of a student and have to customize a lesson on the fly.  (Personally, I used some pictures while teaching, but this probably isn't expected).  I admit, this is pretty hard, but don't panic!  Even if the pretend student loves golf, you don't need to know about it; ask "Where do you play golf?" to get a location, then use that location in an example--something like that.  This facilitates talking, gets the student involved, and keeps their interest high.

REMEMBER:  Gaba is all about customization.  Heap praise on their teaching method and show you're capable of relating lessons to a student's interests and you'll almost certainly get an offer!