Interviews can make you feel really nervous and anxious. But, the great thing about interviews with online ESL companies, is that they aren’t high pressured. They don’t ask you a bunch of technical questions that you have to spend hours preparing in advance. They don’t make you feel uncomfortable. Plus, you don’t have to spend time before the interview worrying about how to get there, traffic problems or where you are going to park. All interviews are carried out online from the comfort of your home!
Teaching ESL Online interviews are mainly just a tick box in your application process. They are there to see you in virtual person, hear your voice and accent, learn a bit more about your experiences and gain a feel for if you are a fit for their company. For you, it is a great opportunity to gain a feel for the company, how friendly and supportive they are and ask any questions you may have before going through the demo stage of your application.
For more details about the step by step process taken within interviews, check out this blog post on the Interview Process.
Here are 10 top tips to help you with your interview and ensure you gain that pass to progress with your application:
1) Dress code
Yes, it may be an interview online at home. But that does not mean you can turn up in your trackie bottoms or pyjamas. You still have to show up and be professional.
At the end of the day, it is still an interview with a potential employer. You want to showcase your best side. That doesn’t mean you have to turn up suited and booted. Just make sure you have dressed appropriately on camera and have a neat and tidy appearance. During teaching, they will expect you to be dressed in a neat, plain coloured T-shirt (unless otherwise specified), which covers your shoulders and chest.
2) Cultural Differences
It doesn’t hurt to be aware of cultural differences. Most online ESL companies are based in China and you will be teaching Chinese students. It is helpful to know certain differences and just plain respectful really to research these beforehand. For example, in China, it is considered extremely rude to point, especially to another person. So instead, if you have a need to point, use your full hand instead of a finger.
This is the time to showcase yourself. Remember you are online on camera and it can be difficult to gain a feel for a person 1000s of miles away on a tiny screen. This is your one chance for the interviewer to see if you are a fit for their company. Online ESL companies like to see teachers who are full of energy, have enthusiasm and are passionate about their teaching role.
I’m sure if you were attending a face to face interview, you will have googled the companies website and read some facts about them. This prepares you for that big question of why you want to work for them compared with competitors.
An online interview is exactly the same. You need to do your research and be prepared. They’re going to want to know why you want to teach with their company compared with the 100s of other online ESL companies. It will go a long way in your favour if you can tell them why you like their company for example if they have interactive games within their slides, do they provide course materials, what is the age range of their students, how many students do you teach at once, etc. This demonstrates to them you are organised and intuitive.
5) Teacher Qualities
Write down 5 qualities you have that will make you a fantastic teacher. Now write next to each why that quality makes you a great teacher. Do you have any teaching examples of when that quality has come into practice? Now go back and score each one in order from 1-5 – 1 being your best quality and 5 your least. For example, if you are creative, you can talk about how you would teach the word cat with different types of props e.g. flashcards, face mask, puppets, sounds etc. If you write patience, you might discuss times when you have been patient with students in the past and how you overcome situations e.g. a crying student, a student who couldn’t pronounce a word or a student who had a lot of energy and struggled to sit still for a whole class.
Preparing this in advance will really help rather than having to think of qualities and examples on the spot if a company asked you this question. I have had this question in a variety of ways from ‘what is your best quality as a teacher?’, ‘Tell me the 3 best qualities that make a great teacher’ to ‘what makes a great teacher?’
6) Experience and Qualifications
This is a real easy one as you have already provided all of this information to the company via your resume. However, every online ESL interview I have had, they always ask what qualifications I have and teaching experiences.
I always list my most relevant qualifications and experiences first such as TEFL, PGCE and online teaching experiences. I then go through my face to face teaching experiences and degree.
If you don’t have any teaching experiences, that’s fine too. Discuss key skills you have gained in other industries that can be transferred to online teaching. For example, team leading, group management, course creation, time management, organisation, presenting skills, IT experience, etc.
Though it is not essential to have the necessary equipment purchased and set up prior to your interview, it does go a long way in your favour. If you can demonstrate that you know what is needed for online teaching e.g. reliable internet, good computer, great lighting, clear webcam and headset, it can make all the difference within your interview. Your interviewer will be able to see that you are prepared and know what is required.
If however, it is your first online teaching job, it isn’t necessary to purchase this equipment just for your interview. However, I would take the initiative to tell your interviewer that you are aware of the equipment you need, and list them and that if you are hired, you will purchase these items before your first lesson.
At the end of your interview, you are given the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. This is the perfect time to ensure you are fully aware of the pay scale, minimum hours required, how long the contract is for, is your schedule fixed or flexible, are their penalties for time off or sickness etc. These details are really important to find out now before going any further with your application. There is no point in joining a company that requires you to work 4 days a week, 4 hours a day if you cannot commit to that.
You need to be professional from the onset, which includes your interview. Do not show up at your interview with your dirty laundry or last nights take out behind you. Before your interview, go onto Zoom or Skype, whichever platform the company is using, and test what you can see behind you in your webcam. Take time to clear your background so there are no distractions for you or potential future students.
For extra brownie points, if you have time to be able to prepare a background in advance this will demonstrate that you are committed and prepared for teaching online. It doesn’t have to be technical. Some companies have set requirements for what they want on your background. Most companies offer flexibility. You can get some cheap ABC wall posters from Aldi/Walmart or even Amazon. I personally have an ABC poster, the company’s name I am teaching with on that day and a large wall sticker.
Above all else, try and relax. It is normal to feel nervous, that’s great because it means you will try your best and want the job. Just remember, the interviewer isn’t there to give you a hard time, they already think you have the ability to teach online with their company as you’ve got through to the interview stage. They just want to have a friendly chat with you and confirm some details you provided.
Remember to smile and just give it your best shot! If it is your first interview, do not worry if you don’t get it. Many companies you can apply again (sometimes it helps if you use a different email address) and have another go. Or, there are so many companies to be able to teach ESL online, now you’ve gained experience from your first interview, have ago elsewhere.
There are no limits on how many companies you can work for. Many people work for multiple companies at the same time as it provides guaranteed work if one company is going through a quiet period. This is my recommendation to you, to go through and apply for a number of online companies, gain experience completing different interviews and demos and then choosing your preferred companies that fit into your schedule and diversifying your income.
If you are interested in applying for the following companies, feel free to email me and I can personally help you with your application:
I may earn a small commission if you use my referral code, pass the application process and begin teaching with any of the above companies.