I’ve been using Ajarn.com to recruit teachers for over a decade and in this time, I’ve probably recruited over a hundred good quality teachers for schools in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I only ever use Ajarn.com and to be honest, I really don’t know what I would do without this superb website. But for all the great teachers I’ve met and interviewed, I’ve also met my fair share of peculiar applicants who have made the process of recruitment that little bit more entertaining.

One applicant that I won’t forget was a certain Mr G. Glitter who applied for a primary school homeroom teacher position in 2006 and claimed to ‘love working with kids’. The application came complete with a picture of the glam rocker in full 1970s rock regalia. At the time the real Mr. Glitter was enjoying the hospitality of the Vietnamese authorities but what did alarm me was news that this hoax applicant had actually been offered an interview at one of Bangkok’s well established Christian schools.

Hoax emails aside, some of the applicants I’ve encountered have been just as colourful as ageing rock stars. Here are a few that have made me smile:

The Exaggerators
Everyone exaggerates or bends the truth a little on their CVs. That’s just the way of the world but some applicants take it a little too far. Three of my favorite exaggerators were the Zoologist, the Builder and the Maths Teacher.

The Zoologist had a degree in Zoology and looked great on paper. He applied to be a primary school science teacher but during his demo lesson his lack of scientific knowledge quickly became clear. He was unable to correctly identify plant cells or animal cells (fortunately the grade 5 students were able to assist). Then at the end of the lesson one of the students asked the teacher why plant cells look green, The Zoologist looked lost and fell silent but once again one of the students came to the teacher’s rescue and answered the question on his behalf.

The Builder was another applicant with suspect qualifications. He gained an NVQ in Construction in 1990 and then in 1992 he graduated with a Master’s in English Literature from Oxford University (possibly via distance learning – Kao San Road)

The Maths Teacher went one better by gaining a qualification before it had come into existence. He had managed to get 10 GCSEs at grade C and above in 1982… impressive stuff considering the first GCSEs were set in 1989!

The Complainers
Applicants that fill their covering letter with complaints about their current school make an interesting read but act as a warning sign to future employers. Some of my favorite quotes from complainers include;

‘After spending 3 hours at the visa office I was eventually told that the stupid b—- from the school office hadn’t provided all the correct documentation’
‘Being asked to stand at the front gate for 30 minutes in the morning is degrading and completely lagging professionalism’ (lagging???)
The longest covering letter I’ve read was a 1000+ word essay/rant detailing the difficulties of life in Rangoon, again an interesting read but an unusual way to introduce yourself to future employers.

The Demanders
I presume that The Demanders were Premiership Footballers in their previous existence, judging by the way they introduce themselves to prospective employers.

‘I will not teach more than 4 periods on any given day’
‘I do not teach teenagers or children below the age of 7’
‘The weekends are my personal time and I do not expect to be required to work or teach on these days’
‘I am an atheist. Do not ask me to take part in any ceremony or activity with religious overtones’

The Latecomers
Arriving a minute or two late for an interview isn’t the end of the world, especially if you’ve been travelling across Bangkok. But when is too late? 1 hour? 1 day? a week? One latecomer arrived an entire week late for an interview. He knew he was going to be late, he had been held up ‘taking care of business’ on Kao San Road. After missing the interview, he had decided that the best thing to do was just turn up at the arranged time on the same day one week later….

The Inappropriate Photos
Every term a few applicants email inappropriate photos with their application. These pictures are usually just amusing and include;

– half dressed men and women on beaches or in waterfalls
– people on a night out, beer bottle in hand or propped up against the counter in one of Thailand’s many infamous bars
– large groups of people with no indication who the applicant is
– people wearing helmets or masks
– once I was sent a picture of a guy holding an assault rifle with what looked like a dead buffalo in the background
– but my all time favorite is a picture of four guys in a smoke filled living-room with seriously blood shoot eyes, sitting wasted on a sofa, looking more like extras from The Hangover than The Educators!

Without emails from these colourful applicants, recruiting teachers in Thailand would be considerably more mundane. These applicants make searching for the right teachers more interesting and entertaining and so I’d like to thank all of those who have been in contact over the years.

simpson teacher


Daniel is an English Literature graduate from the University of London who has spent the past 20 years living and working in Southeast Asia. Passionate about education, health care, sustainable development, equality and human rights, Daniel is a regular contributor to Asian Correspondent, Ajarn, The Educator and Bangkok Post.

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