[2018: I’ve edited this post a bit.]
The fact that you’re looking up stuff for your interview with Aeon already puts you ahead. And I’ll tell you why, eventually. 🙂
I interviewed in Columbus, OH for a position with AEON. I was 1 out of about 30 applicants that day. I drove down from Detroit, MI early that morning. I left around 6 a.m. to make it for the noon interview time. There was an event going on in downtown Columbus, so I afforded myself some extra time. I ended up getting there any hour early, though. Awesome. So I hit the bathroom, made sure I didn’t look too rumpled, and sat down with my fellow candidates.
We made polite small talk, most of us talking about prior teaching experience and things we liked about Japan. When it was finally time we all headed over to the room, where they have you sit and discuss the AEON company. This is pretty much to let you know what you’re getting yourself into (if you haven’t done any prior research) so that you can make a decision if you want to move on or not.
I’ll tell you this right now, pay attention. Show that you’re actually interested in the company and take notes. They’ll show you a video about the typical life of an AEON employee and explain a lot of the day-to-day things. At this point you’ll be given a 15-minute break, where they tell you that you can look through lesson books up front, look at the standard dress code or ask them questions. Get up, socialize. Talk to someone. Look at the dress code. Peruse the books. Don’t just sit there and stare blankly ahead. AEON is looking for energetic and personable people. Even if you’re nervous, or have a hard time talking to people, everyone in that room is there for the same reason.
I can’t remember if this was before or after the break, but they will also show you sample lessons. They’ll do an adult lesson and a child’s lesson. The adult lesson you’ll partner up several times, so be friendly and open to working with different people. The kids lesson, for my session, they had just the front row get up and do the lesson, but still demonstrated for everyone to see.
We were also given a 20-minute quiz, so brush up on spelling/grammar. I won’t tell you what was in the test (everyone’s was different, BTW) but just know that they’re giving you one. I did horrible on mine, but that night I knew I had done horrible, so I researched the words I misspelled so I knew the correct spelling. The first side of the quiz is the spelling/grammar portion, and the other side is open-ended questions for you to answer about things you would do for the company.
At this point, they split you up into smaller groups for the afternoon group lessons. Those are usually about an hour after the initial information session, with one group going at an earlier time, and the second going later. Since there we a lot of us, the interviewers split us up between the two of them. One group went at 4 p.m. and the second group went at 5 p.m. Once you have your time, you’re free to do what you want (everyone ate lunch) before your group session.
Now, I’m going to tell you why researching AEON already puts you ahead of the pack. In my initial information session, there were quite a few people who had no idea what AEON was about, other than that you taught English in Japan. As with any job interview, it is MOST BENEFICIAL to research the company you are applying for before you show up. This includes looking for blogs/forums that give advice. I did that before my own interview and felt very well prepared for the intimidating two-day process. There is a plethora of information on AEON available, so it is no excuse to show up without knowing some of the basic requirements. AEON is very vocal about having a pretty strict standard of dress. They do not want all black suits (with white shirts and black ties for men) or just plain black for women. If you’re a guy, either wear a black suit with a bright colored shirt and a nice tie or go for a lighter colored suit with a white shirt. If you’re a woman, wear a colored suit (grey, blue, brown) and a nice blouse underneath. Sensible shoes (as you’ll be busy all day) and make sure you look presentable.
I point out the clothing because I distinctly remember one fellow interviewee in a plaid flannel shirt and a pair of khakis. A little bit of prior research and I doubt they would have worn that. I’m pretty sure they dropped out before the group interview.
Which brings me to the second point, AEON is a business. It’s not just about teaching English, but selling classes and products as well. And they are not shy when they say this. If you’re not looking to be an active member of their business, AEON isn’t for you. It is the most important part of the company… The more classes they have, the better revenue the company has. It’s a simple business model, and very important to AEON. Quite a few people seemed shocked to learn AEON was so business oriented, but again if they had researched before the interview, they would’ve known before hand, and not wasted their time. One girl I sat next to heard me and another girl discussing AEON and asked us how we knew so much, because she had no clue what we were talking about. We had both done research online to make sure we knew what we were getting into. So again, you’re already ahead of the competition if you’re reading this.
I headed over to Jimmy John’s to eat and brush up on my lesson plan for the group interview.
That’s another part of the AEON interview that is super important. You have to prepare a 30-minute lesson plan, but you only perform 5 minutes in the group interview to allow everyone a chance to give theirs. If you’ve never taught before, don’t fret. Google is your best friend. You will find all sorts of interesting lessons, but always make sure you don’t just use someone else’s work. Try to take bits and pieces of lesson plans and create your own.
You need to pick a 5-minute portion of your lesson plan. Important: Try to pick a portion that emphasizes student speaking. AEON strives for 80% student speaking time, 20% teacher talking time. If you can, try to incorporate a prop of some sort, or a hand-out for your students. The fellow interviewees that you are presenting to are there to help you, not hinder you, so they’ll try their best to perform up to snuff. You’ll have to lead them a bit (since most demonstration portions of lesson plans will be right in the middle of the actual lesson, they’ll need a little guiding) but don’t fear, once you get past the first 30 seconds or so of your lesson plan, the time just flies by.
After you finish up your group interview, they’ll tell you to head to a certain area by a certain time. We met by where we had our information session at 5 p.m. The group from my interview sat together afterwards, making small talk to help our nerves. The interviewers came down with envelopes; inside held their decision. They had either A) chosen you for the personal interview the following day, or B) politely told you that you weren’t selected for the personal interview. They emphasize not opening the envelope with other interviewees: not everyone has the same answer in their envelope…
I had made a couple friends in my group interview, so we went out for a drink afterwards after the stress of the day. We went to a little hole in the wall bar (it was actually in an alley-way in downtown Columbus), had a few drinks, some fries, and talked about pretty much everything but the interview. We parted ways, and I headed off to my hotel.
Which is where my story gets personal.
All of the hotels in downtown Columbus were really expensive, and as I’m a poor cook and dish-washer (hahaha) I used Hotels.com to find a cheap alternative. I had to drive about 15 minutes out of the city, but it wasn’t so bad. I had chosen Extend-A-Suites Columbus, which was right off the freeway. I pulled off, turned onto the main road, and looked over to see the hotel… was closed.
I don’t mean like closed for the night. I mean dump trucks in the parking lot, furniture littered around the parking lot and the entire front office gutted. My jaw dropped… How had I booked a hotel that was closed? It had clearly been closed for a couple weeks. I called my Mom who told me to find another hotel and after driving around for about 10 minutes, I finally felt my brain kick back into gear. I pulled into a parking lot and tried the number for the hotel on my reservation sheet, but it kept ringing. I used Google Maps to show me where the nearest hotel was, and made the decision to read my letter.
I had decided that I wanted to wait until after I got into my room and was in bed to open my letter. I wanted to be totally relaxed before I learned my fate. But now since the hotel I had booked essentially didn’t exist, I opened the letter to decide if I needed to find a hotel in the area or if I was just going to drive up to my friend’s house and stay with her. I ripped open the letter, tossed the envelope in the back and held my breath.
They wanted me for a personal interview the following morning at 9:15. I was ecstatic. And that made my decision; I drove back toward the freeway in search of another hotel. There was a Motel 6 and an America’s Best Value Inn right down the street from the Extend-A-Suites. I pulled in and chose the America’s Best Value Inn. I parked by the front office, walked to the front door, only to see a sign that said all rooms were sold out. I almost walked away, but at this point I was so exhausted (it’s about 8 p.m. at this point, I’ve been up since 5 a.m.) that I wanted to ask if they knew anywhere else I could go. The two gentlemen in the office said they actually had one room left, but there were no blankets on the beds. They said I could go and look at it if I wanted, since every hotel in a 15 mile radius was sold out due to ‘Rock on the Range.’
I went and checked out the room, which even if it were a closet I probably would have taken, because I didn’t want to sleep in my car. They washed a blanket for me, and I sat and chatted with one of the guys for a while. As we were talking another guy came in asking for a room. They told him that due to the concert all hotels were sold out, and that his best bet would be to buy a tent from Walmart and pitch it somewhere. I was thankful I had arrived when I did. I headed back to the room, dropped my stuff off, and headed out to Walmart to buy a pillow and some hair-ties. I then hit Arby’s on the way home for some food (which took entirely too long due to a cash register problem), and went back to the hotel. I ate my food, looked up the words I had misspelled from earlier in the day on my phone (the Wi-Fi didn’t work in the hotel, which was awesome) and fell asleep.
AEON Interview Day One Important Things:
- Be friendly and outgoing
- Socialize with fellow interviewees
- Dress to impress
- Research prior to the interview and understand the business
- Emphasize student speaking in your lesson plan
And the most important thing I can tell you, make sure you SMILE.
Catch Part 2 (Next Week!)