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Berlitz Istanbul English Teaching Interview

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Berlitz Istanbul Interview- Search for work in Istanbul, round 2

“Never work for any Berlitz, you’ve been warned,” an English teaching contact told me upon arrival in Istanbul. I only slightly heeded his warning as I sent out my TEFL cover letter and CV to a bulk of English Teaching schools, including Berlitz. Within ten minutes of pushing the send button on the email, a lady from Berlitz was on the phone setting up an interview with me.

Due to the rather incongruous experience that I had at a previous interview at an English school in Istanbul, I figured that vagabonds with little money cannot be picky about employment, and, against advice, agreed to an interview with Berlitz.
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Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Istanbul, Turkey- February 17, 2009
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On the appointed day, I strode into the Berlitz school in the Taxim district of Istanbul. It was in a large building and the institute was an impressive multi-floor establishment. I did not know what floor I was suppose to go to, so I stopped in at the first door that said “Berlitz” and inquired. I was given the name of someone to talk with and directed to go to the seventh floor. I did so.

Upon walking into the seventh floor office, I was greeted by a secretary. I told her that I was there for an interview and said the name of the person that I was suppose to meet. It was apparent that one week in Turkey was not enough to grant me the ability to properly pronounce a Turkish name, and some lady standing nearby got a kick out of my pronunciation and laughed coldly at me.

I looked around the office: it was a sterile, mauve and gray, robotic type of environment, and my first reaction was to return out of the door that I came in through. A pasty faced man with news anchor/ mannequin hair halted my retreat with a brisk, “What are you here for?”

“A job interview, I have an appointment.”

“Your name?” was his slightly annoyed response.

I got the feeling that I was bothering this fellow by showing up for my interview. He then removed himself from his cubicle, and, without a handshake, walked by me and to check for my name on some list. He found it, and then promptly stuffed me into an empty room. Priming the table in the middle of this little room with two enormous packets of paper, the stiff faced man mutter a gruff, “this is a native English examination, I hope it is not a problem.” I was then closed into the room without hesitation.

I had never been received with such systematic coldness at a job interview before, and, while I recovered from the lack of inter-personality that I was subjected to, I leafed through the packets.

“I suppose this is how the rest of the world lives,” I consoled myself as I gathered the strength to keep myself in my chair and fill out the paperwork for a job that I no longer wanted. One packet basically asked for all of the same information that was on my CV, an essay as to why I want to be an English teacher, if I am familiar with the “Berlitz” teaching method, and a request for a list of all of the countries that I have lived in. I began filling it out robotically, ever struggling against my impulse to turn in my tracks and run away. But before I could think of the dates that I had resided in Morocco, I became far too annoyed with my circumstances, and peaked into the other packet.

This packet was the “native English test,” and it was a full-fledged, 80 question examination to prove that I am, in fact, a native speaker of English. As I browsed through the questions, I quickly arrived at the feeling that there was no way that I wanted to work for a company that had so little faith in my degrees, certifications, and previous work experience. I realized that I had no intention of working for a company that would stuff me into a room to take an examination before greeting me with a hand shake. Did I need to pass a test before I was deemed worthy of their time and respect? No matter if they offered me a job or not, no matter how much they paid, I knew that there was no way that I wanted to step foot in this sad place ever again. After figuring that I was in for at least three hours of work on the examination, it became apparent that I could spend my time more prudently by looking for a different English teaching job.

I wrote a funny little note on the back of the examination, and made way for the door. I walked pasted the pasty faced, stiff haired mannequin, passed the rude woman who laughed at me, and rushed passed the robotic secretary before finding salvation on the other side of the door.

I listened to my intuition. I ditched out of my job interview and ran away from Berlitz Istanbul.

Nobody rushed after me, nobody blocked my departure, no one even raise an eyebrow at my exit. I got the impression that this was normal occurrence: qualified, native speaking English teachers have a tendency to run away from Berlitz Istanbul.

Leaving behind only elbows and ass holes, I was gone.

After doing a brief internet survey of other teacher’s experiences with Berlitz Istanbul, listening to my intuition and ditching out of this interview seems to have been a very wise decision:

As you have all probably seen, Berlitz Istanbul is hiring once again, and I wanted to warn the uninitiated out there that they are a very poorly-run organization and I would advise anyone against taking a job with them. The reason they are always hiring is that their teachers are always quitting. Avoid them like the plague.” –Dave’s ESL Cafe Job Forum

I also advise teachers to avoid Berlitz Istanbul. Speaking from experience, I can say that their management staff is very difficult to work with and they really don’t seem to care about their teachers at all. Probably the reason why their turnover is high (the average teacher stay seems to be about two or three months). Also: if you do get into negotiations with these guys, beware the contract. They may tell you it’s just a formality, but they’re actually very serious about it and may try to pursue you in court if you attempt to quit. It may be worth getting a lawyer to look at it beforehand. Bottom line: it’s possible to teach there, but be very wary and stand your ground at every turn.”Dave’s ESL Cafe Job Forum

“This is the biggest problem of Berlitz in Istanbul. The owner and manager is a pathological liar. He really can not help himself.” Dave’s ESL Cafe Job Forum

“I spent only two days in the Berlitz office and left before my relationship went any further. The management was rude and unthoughtful and my gut told me to get out. I never taught a course there nor did I finish their training.” Dave’s ESL Cafe Job Forum

“Never in my entire esl career, i have never seen a company with this high of teacher turnover, and i have never met a man that has as little respect for his instructors as the owner at this center does.” –TEFL Blacklist

“This place is owned and run by a power hungry, untrustworthy monster. He will treat you like a sweatshop employee.” –Dave’s ESL Cafe Forum

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Filed under: Eastern Europe, Europe, Turkey

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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