Teaching ESL online interviews aren’t quite as intense as a standard face to face, 9-5 job interview. They don’t go through your resume in depth and ask lots of scenario questions. They don’t ask you questions based on your top strengths and weaknesses. Generally, most interviews don’t even include a full lesson demo at this stage.
The point of a teaching ESL online interview is to gain a feel for you. Prior to the interview, you would have sent off an application including your resume, plus qualifications and maybe a photo. The interview is to put a face to your application, to hear your accent, especially important if they require native English speakers only and to see if you are a fit for their company.
Though they do ask certain questions, there are no surprises. They all relate to the information you have supplied on your resume and about their company.
Most interviews are carried out online via Skype or Zoom. Both Skype and Zoom are free and available for download online. I suggest practising using them both just to become familiar so you know how to enter the meeting for your interview and can work your microphone and camera.
After you have sent in your application and are successful, you will be invited to your interview with a link via email and with a calendar schedule to select a time slot for your interview. Some companies will discuss a time via Skype with you, or you are required to follow a link through their website to your own profile page and book a time slot there.
Within the interview itself, you are greeted by a member of the recruitment or HR team. Generally, they are really friendly and put you at ease within the first few minutes. Once you have confirmed your name, location and where you are from, they generally ask basic questions. All of the companies I have applied for have asked me:
Tell me a bit about yourself and your teaching experience.
This is where I would discuss my background such as teaching qualifications gained, the age range of students I have taught, whether this has been face to face or online, how many students at a time, my responsibilities e.g. planning lessons, time management and how long I have taught for.
Can you confirm your qualifications?
They like to know if you have a degree and subject, if you have any higher qualifications, specialist qualifications especially if you are a teacher e.g. in Maths and also if you have a teaching English qualification such as TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.
Have you taught online before?
If you haven’t mentioned above in the first question, this is where you would discuss if you have taught online. If you have, fantastic. If not, don’t worry. Do some research and you can discuss what you have seen and how your experience fits the job description e.g. time management, organisation, being prepared in advance.
Why do you want to teach with (company name)?
Most companies have asked me this. There are 100s of online ESL companies out there all competing with each other to be the best and gain the best teachers and students. They like to hear why you would like to teach with them and not elsewhere. It also shows that you haven’t just applied to every company but you have carried out research and know a little about them. For example, any company I have applied for, I research thoroughly to hear from other teachers if they think it is a good company and why. Then, within my interviews I tell the interviewer my findings e.g. teachers have recommended your company to me due to the fantastic IT support, great interactive courseware or the opportunity to progress and take on additional roles.
What hours you can commit to/looking for?
They like to know in advance that you can commit to their minimum requirements at least across the contract period (usually 6 months or 1 year).
Here are some additional questions I have been asked by certain companies:
What do you think is the top quality of an online teacher (Winkey Online English Academy)
I won’t write down my personal answer as everyone’s will be different. But think about what you can bring to the company as a teacher. Are you extremely organised and can manage your time well? Are you creative and love making different props? Are you patient and understanding that children will be children at times in classes?
What do you think are some of the challenges faced with teaching ESL online? (Whales English)
Personally, I think this is a great question. It really shows that you are aware before you start teaching online, that you may face some challenges. It is good to discuss how you aren’t physically present like you would be in class, you are teaching on a small screen for the children to remain concentrated, you need to be extra visually appealing e.g. lots of movement and interaction, positive body language whilst teaching, children are learning in their home environment with distractions all around them (I have had many lessons where siblings are also interested in the class and can become distracting for the student). These are just a couple of points to consider.
What kind of teacher are you? (Whales English)
They wanted to know how I like to teach my lessons, whether I like to use props and games, if I just focus on what is provided or if I can extend children’s learning based upon the course.
What would you do if….. (Winkey Online English Academy)
They asked me two scenario questions to find out what I would do if there was a technical difficulty with the student. In which case you would contact IT support immediately but also, depending on the technical difficulty adapt your teaching appropriately. If they couldn’t see but could still hear, you can still teach. When students can’t see or hear you, you could type in a chat box to explain instructions and then model some games they can join in with on the course slides e.g. drawing game – you draw an apple and banana and tell them to circle the apple. Or spelling and working on phonic sounds. Write out a sound e.g. ‘a’ and write c-t, h-t, m-t, s-t for them to fill in the gaps.
Unless a short demo is part of your interview (if it is they will inform you of this in advance), then after the questions they will tell you a little about their company. This is your opportunity to clarify any details before you spend time preparing for your demo. Make sure to confirm what hours are available for you to work, dress requirements, time off and sickness penalties, an opportunity for career progression etc.
At the end of the interview, they generally will tell you if you have been successful or not. If you have, they will send a confirmation email to then book your demo lesson. At least 24hrs prior to your demo, you will receive the lesson materials they would like you to teach. This provides you with time to also prepare additional props and go through the slides so you are aware of the target language, age group and ability level
For further interview support, check out my post on Interview Top Tips.