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AEON and ECC: A Tale or two rejections
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JamesBE



Joined: 14 Aug 2013
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:33 am    Post subject: AEON and ECC: A Tale or two rejections Reply with quote

In the past week I've interviewed with both ECC and AEON. And since this board hasn't been updated with an honest-to-goodness in-depth examination of their interview process in quite some time, I'd thought I'd share what I went though, maybe to help others navigate both companies rather...bizarre application processes.

ECC
This was in Toronto, an all-day affair that started at 9:30 AM and went until after 5pm. Typically the session consists of six applicants, but we had one no-show.

The entire process takes place in one rather small boardroom. The whole time you deal with just one person, John Barrie, who has been with the company for about 20 years or something. John is a super nice guy, very honest and considerate, and really works great at putting you at ease.

The first half of the day is pretty much just a video presentation of a mock interview between John and a potential applicant. He occasionally pauses it to go into detail about some finer points, such as apartments and salary, but that's about it. If you can, try to ask questions when he prompts for some.

Then there's lunch. The cafeteria food is nice.

When you get back from lunch you have the mock lesson, which is obviously the most important part. This is where it can start to fall apart. The applicants are split into two groups and each are given a lesson for children. One group got animals, the other (mine) got sports.

They're very confusing lessons, and unfair, as the sports lesson is much harder than the animal one. The animal lesson is pretty much just vocab; get the kids to say the word, then have them say it in a sentence. The sports one is more Q&A, we're supposed to get the kids to say the word, then ask them "Do you play [sport]?" but have them answer, not repeat. I don't know how one would do that in real life, because I've never taught.

Anyways, each person in the group gets two tasks. I had a whole spiel worked out for mine, but during the first group's presentation John basically shot down what I was planning on doing. With nothing to fall back on, I tried to do what he suggested, but I came off as pretty dull and bland. No time to really build on anything either. Oh well.

Then the damn grammar test.

I've read a lot about this test on this site and on others. Some people say it's a walk in the park, others say it's a nightmare. They're both wrong.

The ECC grammar test is worse than a nightmare, it's the hardest grammar/English test I've ever taken in my entire life. The grammar questions on this test are INSANE. Not only that, some literally make no sense. The first section is the most difficult; you're given sentences and you have to identify what's "wrong" with them.

This is broken.

So, it will give you a sentence that has three words underlined. You're supposed to select the "wrong" part. However, many times I'd read the sentence and find four mistakes (I work as a proofreader, by the way)! Or, the sentence was SO broken that I couldn't figure out which mistake they wanted me to fix. For example, a big recurring theme was correcting tense. That makes sense, I get that, but when the sentence has three tenses in it and two of the words that AREN'T underlined are in the "wrong" tense, how the hell am I supposed to guess the "right" tense? I think the biggest problem I had with this entire section was that, as a writer, I just saw garbage through and through. Even if the sentences were "grammatically correct" they'd still be garbage and not fit for print, so I don't know how to work with something that broken.

The other half of the test is spelling and vocab, standard stuff. Very easy.

I was really nervous about that test after I was done, and John noticed. He did tell me that he would let me know if I passed or failed it, but he never did.

Update/Edit
He actually did finally get back to me, although I had to email him first. Turns out I did past the test. Doesn't excuse it's insane difficulty though.

The interview is an interview, cut and dry, nothing to go over there.

AEON

AEON's offices are at the Helmsley Building in Manhattan, it's about as formal and professional-looking as you can get. It's a theme that carries into the hiring session as well, which was a half-day session that went from 1:30 to a little after 5:30 pm.

For this, there were nine applicants (bigger boardroom) and three recruiters, Lars, Derek and some Japanese woman who barely spoke. Throughout the entire process they seemed super "professional" and by that, I mean they came off as incredibly rehearsed and choreographed. I get that they probably do this every week, but a bit of actual human emotion would have been great.

The Q&A/presentation is pretty similar to the ECC one, so nothing to report there.

Then there's a break, then we're supposed to do our mock lessons.

This part was just bizarre.

They had us break into two groups, I assume to save time. However, they had us teach at the same time, in the same room. Two presentations, literally face-to-face, at all times. Very disconcerting.

The "students" were supposed to be "beginners" but they really didn't specify what that meant. However, since they did say they expect 80% student talking vs 20% instructor talking, I assume this meant students who could at least form a sentence in English.

I really thought I nailed it with my presentation. Since Tokyo is a candidate city for the summer Olympics, I made a vocab lesson using Olympic sports. I incorporated a game of charades, had them listen/repeat, and I even started some class discussion. Look, I don't know if I was perfect, but I don't know what else I could have done.

I do know that a lot of other students just straight-up stole their presentations from online lesson plans. I recognized about six of them from lesson plans I've read on ESL sites. They didn't even bother to change the words! Two students even stole the demo lesson from the ECC interview! God, I hope those jerks didn't get a call back.

After that, there's a questionnaire and a quiz. And I think this is what might have got me. The quiz is strange. They want to know the difference between terms like "hope" and "want" or "emulate" and "imitate" and only give you about 10 minutes to do it. I had to write so fast, it was infuriating. And the the instructions can be vague.

For example, I had to explain the difference between "I locked the door" and "I remember locking the door." Okay, great. One is simple past tense and the other is past progressive. Is that what they wanted? Or did they want me to explain how the meaning of those two sentences can be slightly different? Who knows.

Anyways, you finish the quiz and then sit in the room for 20 minutes before Lars and the gang come back with envelopes that will tell you if you'll be welcome back the following day. They don't want you to open them in the office. I was kind of chummy with someone else from the group, so we opened ours together downstairs. He thought I was going to be a lock for the interview. I didn't get it, but he did, never mind that he didn't' even FINISH the damn quiz.

The more I learned about the AEON gig, the less I wanted it, but I was still pretty upset that I didn't get that second interview. I flew there, booked two nights at a pretty pricey hotel, they knew that. I would think they might extend the courtesy, especially since a five minute lesson and a 10 minute grammar test really don't say that much about a person.

And I think that's what bothers me the most about both of these experiences; I don't feel that either really judged me very well as a teacher of conversational English. This is especially true about the ECC interview. Teachers at ECC don't teach grammar! So why the need for such an insane test? Seriously, I wasn't the only one who thought that. We had two English majors in that session, both of them said the same thing I did.

What else bothers me is the overall corporate BS attitude from both. John from ECC is a super nice guy alright, but he still wasn't forthcoming about information that he said he would share with me. And I had a very specific question about my AEON session, and while Lars said you could email him if you had any questions (outside of "why we didn't hire you"), I never got a response (I wanted to know if my speech impediment was noticeable).

So yeah. I actually turned down PKC because I thought they were sketchy. Up next I got phone interview with Interac and GABA, both are less than perfect I know, but what other options to do I have?


Last edited by JamesBE on Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Solar Strength



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 560
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That; was a great summary of the interview process for ECC and AEON. It likely had something to do with your age, your appearance or their overall feeling about how you'd fit into their cult - I mean culture - and not anything about your ability or potential as an EFL teacher.

Maybe you're a big guy and the Japanese women though that you'd scare the children, or you're too fat, or you're too tall, or you have black hair, or you don't have blue eyes.

It has nothing to do with teaching and more about vetting people who will fit into their cult like work environments and potential to increase sales.

Your ECC guy in Canada is not a teacher, he's a business man working for a Japanese company. Nice isn't the adjective that I would be using to describe gaijin management working in the eikaiwa industry!
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JamesBE



Joined: 14 Aug 2013
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Solar Strength wrote:

Maybe you're a big guy and the Japanese women though that you'd scare the children, or you're too fat, or you're too tall, or you have black hair, or you don't have blue eyes.


Is that really a problem? I'm 6'6" and overweight (not going to give a number, it sounds worse than it is because, yo, I'm 6'6"). I thought that Japanese people loved big white dudes. While I was in Japan I had to practically swat teenage girls away.
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Rooster.



Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 170

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

those were good reviews. I hope that you get a job!

I wouldn't want to work for Gaba, though.

Not that I recommend it, but once you are in Japan finding a job is a lot easier so you can always change jobs if one doesn't work out. Don't discount smaller eikaiwas also!
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sabina



Joined: 11 Nov 2010
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for sharing your experiences. I wouldn't rule out PKC, though. They aren't any more or less shady than Aeon and ECC, IMHO. Their hours can be quite good I have heard, too.
The thing to remember is that you need to get your foot in the door somehow. Companies rarely hire candidates from abroad (meaning: candidates who are not in possession of valid work visas). So any way you can get the initial visa and get over here, I wouldn't pass up (well, use your judgement. Don't let them make you do anything illegal.)
You just have to work there for one year. Then, if things aren't good, you can always find another job. It will be much, much easier once you're already in Japan and have a work visa. TRUST ME! And if things are absolutely unbearably horrible, you can always quit. You get to keep the visa and just have to find another job.
So good luck to you!!!
PS--you seem like you might present an imposing figure in person, so make sure to be extra cheerful and smiley in your interviews! Super genki! Very Happy
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 122

PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, I mean, *beep*---if you can't get hired by ECC or AEON, maybe you should look for some other way to come to Japan, if you're dead set to do so. They'll pretty much hire anyone, so if you can't get on with them at the start, you are not going to have an easy time of it in Japan if your goal is to teach, regardless of whatever anyone else here says.

Find something else to do.
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Inflames



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 418

PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:22 pm    Post subject: Re: AEON and ECC: A Tale or two rejections Reply with quote

JamesBE wrote:
Even if the sentences were "grammatically correct" they'd still be garbage and not fit for print, so I don't know how to work with something that broken.

You're trying to be a teacher, but if you can't work with something that broken you definitely would not be a good eikaiwa teacher. Students have an amazing ability to produce nonsense that you're supposed to make sense of.

JamesBE wrote:
After that, there's a questionnaire and a quiz. And I think this is what might have got me. The quiz is strange. They want to know the difference between terms like "hope" and "want" or "emulate" and "imitate" and only give you about 10 minutes to do it. I had to write so fast, it was infuriating. And the the instructions can be vague.

For example, I had to explain the difference between "I locked the door" and "I remember locking the door." Okay, great. One is simple past tense and the other is past progressive. Is that what they wanted? Or did they want me to explain how the meaning of those two sentences can be slightly different? Who knows.

There are two things to remember when doing things like this. For one, answers should be short and easy to understand (as they want to know if your students would understand). A lengthy answer isn't what they're looking for. Also, when they want the difference they want you to explain the difference in meaning first (again, in a short and simple way).

Some of the wording on tests can be difficult - I remember at one point I had an exam where it said to put some verb in the chart below. There was a space for simple present, so I put it in there and sat around (thinking that reading instructions might be a trick part of the test). I asked the interviewer and he said that they wanted the entire chart filled in with the various forms (it wasn't difficult, but I was glad I asked).
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JamesBE



Joined: 14 Aug 2013
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmatt wrote:
You know, I mean, *beep*---if you can't get hired by ECC or AEON, maybe you should look for some other way to come to Japan, if you're dead set to do so. They'll pretty much hire anyone, so if you can't get on with them at the start, you are not going to have an easy time of it in Japan if your goal is to teach, regardless of whatever anyone else here says.

Find something else to do.


Thanks for the unasked and unneeded dose of negativity.

For the record, I most likely failed the ECC interview because I gave a poor presentation. I assume I failed the AEON one because I didn't understand the written test. My inability to do well in an interview environment has nothing to do with my ability to teach.

Neither company will "pretty much hire anyone." If that was the case, then they wouldn't be stretched for teachers so often.

If you don't have something productive or helpful to say, then perhaps it would be best if you didn't speak at all.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 122

PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JamesBE wrote:
jmatt wrote:
You know, I mean, *beep*---if you can't get hired by ECC or AEON, maybe you should look for some other way to come to Japan, if you're dead set to do so. They'll pretty much hire anyone, so if you can't get on with them at the start, you are not going to have an easy time of it in Japan if your goal is to teach, regardless of whatever anyone else here says.

Find something else to do.


Thanks for the unasked and unneeded dose of negativity.

For the record, I most likely failed the ECC interview because I gave a poor presentation. I assume I failed the AEON one because I didn't understand the written test. My inability to do well in an interview environment has nothing to do with my ability to teach.

Neither company will "pretty much hire anyone." If that was the case, then they wouldn't be stretched for teachers so often.

If you don't have something productive or helpful to say, then perhaps it would be best if you didn't speak at all.


Well, I wasn't trying to be unnecessarily negative, just honest. Truth hurts sometimes.

If you aren't already here with a spousal visa, or any visa really, and you can't get hired by an entry level company like ECC or AEON which will sponsor you, there aren't too many options. That's just reality.

You could always just come over on a tourist visa and try to get a job--there's undoubtedly some company who would hire you, for very little money, but chances are they would not sponsor a visa.

Again, if you couldn't get hired by the aforementioned companies, your chances are not great.
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milkman



Joined: 12 Jul 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hate those stupid tests that the companies give out. I've seen plenty of them before and they're always unnecessarily difficult, like they're trying to humble you or something. Anyone who could get a perfect score on one of those probably wouldn't be looking to work at your typical low-level eikawa.

Interac also used to always use them in training sessions, telling us how we'd be graded on them and that our JTEs could easily answer them. In the end it was just stupid scare tactics, they never collected the papers and it just made the organizers look like insufferable cunts. Great job putting us on the spot and embarrassing us guys, really learned a lot from that!
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gonzarelli



Joined: 20 Jun 2007
Posts: 151
Location: trouble in the henhouse

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Barrie is still the man in Toronto? He is awesome!!!! Love the guy for giving me such great advice in the interview about life in Japan. It really helped. I interviewed in December 2001 and it really doesn't seem that long ago.

To the OP maybe you can try to get hired in a junior high school. Forget eikaiwa.
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nightsintodreams



Joined: 18 May 2010
Posts: 436

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, very informative!

I don't want to encourage discrimination against someone with a speech impediment but wouldn't you agree that one of the most important criteria for a 'conversational English teacher' is to be easily understood and to provide a good model for the students to replicate.

I study Japanese and if I ever have to choose a teacher for CONVERSATION from twenty people, the overweight guy with a speech impediment is definitely not getting my money. The hot Japanese chick with massive boobs who can barely string a sentence together on the other hand...

I have only ever met one teacher in Japan with a speech impediment and he worked for interac, so maybe you should try them. I worked for them for a few years, in my opinion they were a pretty good company to work for.

Good luck!
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JamesBE, thanks for the post.

Ignore Jmatt. If someone is being less than kind, and they just say they are being honest, then their intentions are suspect.

You can find work while in Japan, but it is not easy. You'll need some savings to find work.

In your case, one option would be to think about South Korea or Thailand as good places to teach ESL.

Other things that would help: learning about lesson plans, methodology and and tools of the trade, so to speak. That's the most important thing for your professional development. So when you are confronted with difficult or impossible questions from any source, you can come out with something. If you are a big guy, dressing nice and smiling can be a big help. Many people have difficulty with differences, and this tendency is exacerbated in Japan.

I echo Solar Strength's views: the interview process is designed for these companies to select candidates that would fit their mold. In fact, past English teaching experience can become a burden with AEON, as you have to learn their precise methodology. What's more, you only have one day to learn the methodology once you get to Japan.

I was hired by the New York office to work for AEON in Japan. I lasted for a total of four days in Japan. My story is on this site. If I truly knew what AEON was like, I would never have applied there. The AEON office would counter that if they knew what I was like, they never would have hired me. The one thing that I and the AEON reps. you met would agree upon is that we all would wish that I was never hired. So, JamesBE, you may be lucky!

AEON does not care if their interviews cause you to spend two nights in a hotel. They just do not care. Again, they are interested in getting candidates to fit their mold, so these candidates can teach their way.

Everything AEON does is for a reason. Why the impossible tests? One reason may be to see how you react under pressure. Another reason that I personally believe is a bit darker: by making it harder for anyone to excel, it becomes easier to control people.

Thanks again, JamesEB, for opening these companies up for greater scrutiny. Everyone should be able to come onto this site and find enough information so that they can perform better during these interviews, if that's what they want to do.

I do believe companies have the right to operate this way. By the same token, anyone has a right to examine and criticize any company for what they do, and people can make up their own mind.

I for one feel the need to object in the strongest possible terms when AEON says something like this on their website: AEON has a supportive atmosphere where everyone’s goals and desires are considered.
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Solar Strength



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 560
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not as easy to get hired by chain eikaiwa schools as it used to be. People, good people, get turned down often.

Second, eikaiwa is a very greasy business. They are a bad lot. Of course the people running the hiring seminars don't give a shit at what expense or inconvenience you put yourself through to meet them that day. You're a number.

I would recommend people not coming to Japan in the first place to teach EFL. It's actually one of the last places I'd recommend a prospective TEFL teacher come and look for work.
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budgie



Joined: 22 Feb 2005
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JamesBE wrote:
jmatt wrote:
You know, I mean, *beep*---if you can't get hired by ECC or AEON, maybe you should look for some other way to come to Japan, if you're dead set to do so. They'll pretty much hire anyone, so if you can't get on with them at the start, you are not going to have an easy time of it in Japan if your goal is to teach, regardless of whatever anyone else here says.

Find something else to do.


Thanks for the unasked and unneeded dose of negativity.

For the record, I most likely failed the ECC interview because I gave a poor presentation. I assume I failed the AEON one because I didn't understand the written test. My inability to do well in an interview environment has nothing to do with my ability to teach.

Neither company will "pretty much hire anyone." If that was the case, then they wouldn't be stretched for teachers so often.

If you don't have something productive or helpful to say, then perhaps it would be best if you didn't speak at all.


I agree, these schools are actually quite picky. They prefer under thirty (but do hire people older); they shun experience (they want you to learn to 'tech' their way. They prize presentation. In the case of Aeon a big part of the job once you get there is to recommend further purchase of their materials to what they call 'customers' (not 'students') - so they are looking for people with salesmanship skills.

It's not more than a teaching job at the big schools - it's actually considerably less, or at least altogether different.

If you can get to Japan and look around there are better, smaller schools that might appreciate you more for what you can bring to the table, than what they can mold you into.
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