The lengthy message below popped on Dave's ESL Cafe just today. I'm reposting it here in its entirety, as (a) it may disappear soon, and (b) I could never have put it better myself. The fact that HCT is coming across as an 'Evil Empire' even at the interview stage indicates that its final breaths are a lot closer than many of us thought.
So I finally have some experience to add to this forum. FINALLY! Mind you, mine only consists of a brief interview at the 2012 TESOL convention in the U.S.
I've never worked in the Gulf and certainly cannot personally relate to the stories I've heard about HCT as an organization. I will say that they present a very professional image at TESOL at least and look as though they have the potential to be a wonderful employer.
However... that said, I had my suspicions confirmed before I even met my interviewers when I approached an officiator at the check-in counter of the job market place to ask him what time I should arrive for my interview which was later in the day. As it was my first time at TESOL, I just wanted to make sure that one, I found the venue easily and could arrive early and two, I was in fact on their list for an afternoon interview.
When the man could not find my name on the list, he asked me who I was scheduled to interview with. When I told him, he rolled his eyes and sighed before informing me that HCT was the worst recruiter he'd ever dealt with in his many years of working the job marketplace at TESOL. He advised to me to arrive not one minute earlier than my scheduled interview time and told me to expect to wait possibly up to 30 minutes past my scheduled time as they always ran late. And he also warned me to expect moments of awkwardness between the HCT recruiters and the TESOL job fair employees as they apparently 'go at' one another from time to time due to these delays.
Well... a friend of mine also interviewed with them earlier that day and was actually taken back before her scheduled time. I decided to show up early anyway (no reason for me to behave unprofessionally). I then found out that they'd had several no shows for interviews earlier in the afternoon. The employee told me that this was also not unusual for them but rarely happened with other recruiters/employers at the job fair.
So... the interview.
First of all, I must say that my impression of them is only attributed to the two people who interviewed me face to face and the woman who shared email exchanges with me prior to my arrival at TESOL. I did not apply to them. They actually found me registered for the job market place and contacted me with an interview offer. They even went so far as to schedule it and ask me to reply and confirm. I didn't feel that I had anything to lose by confirming.
I was met by two 'members' of HCT from two different schools in UAE- one male and one female. I will not disclose names or nationalities. One was kind and agreeable to me, the other, quite the opposite. Their interview questions were clearly scripted and did not reflect any semblance of 'filtering' for qualified instructors. No questions about pedagogy, grammar analysis, learner linguistic challenges and so on, as I'd expected and hoped.
The interview was recorded, which I thought was a a very good idea considering their size and application pool. But that is really the only positive thing I can say about it. As I mentioned, one of the interviewers was so terse with me that I dare say he/she was borderline abrasive. It almost seemed personal. Perhaps I misread him/her, but I doubt it. I have quite a bit of experience with overseas interviews.
The focus of my interview with HCT seemed to be conflict: office conflict among colleagues, between me and my employer and between me and my students. Aside from my students, I have no examples of conflict to speak of.
The interviewer who seemed to be not that keen on me from the offset of the interview also didn't really seem to appreciate my lack of experience with 'office drama'. I'll let all you experienced HCT'ers draw your own conclusions from this.
There is quite a bit more that I can say about this experience, but I think I will close with an observation that out of all of the Gulf employers, HCT seemed to be the most involved in TESOL USA. They had 2 well-known presenters, many sessions for participants and apparently had students brought in to help boost their marketing as well. It became very obvious to me though that their efforts to recruit teachers/faculty/students were not met with a very rewarding or interested response.
My friend who also interviewed with them (and had a more positive experience) noted that there were more HCT people present and active at the conference than interested applicants/attendees. Apparently they'd booked a hall meant for 200 for a planned presentation on the benefits of living in UAE and working for HCT, and only had about 10 people.
And so ends my experience with HCT, as it were. Just thought I'd share that here. For those of you wondering if I am holding out for a job offer from them, I'm not. Otherwise I wouldn't dream of posting such comments here two days after my interview.
I find it all a bit disheartening though as I've been watching HCT for years since completing my MA TESOL and hoping for a chance to work for them. A few years ago when I found out that things had taken a turn for the worse, I gave up on the idea. Fortunately, my experience and qualifications have opened doors for much better opportunities both abroad and here in the U.S.
Again, this post only reflects my very brief face to face experience with this group. I've heard of a number of other teachers who have worked for them and been quite satisfied with the experience!
When I say a number though, I do only mean a small one...