How to Totally Crush Your Online English Teaching Interview

Online English Teacher Interview
Online teachers are in high demand, but with the surge in popularity for online learning, employers are becoming more selective about the teachers they hire. This means you need to shine during your interview. As an online teacher, recruiter, and interviewer for a major online ESL company, I can show you how.

I Recruit and Train Online ESL Teachers for a Living.
Let Me Show You What to Do to Nail that Online ESL Teaching Interview.

Online teaching jobs have become extremely popular and competitive. Parents seeking tutors want their children to advance their English speaking skills beyond what they are learning in school. They want the best tutors for their children, and look to online ESL companies to deliver.

As a recruiter of online ESL tutors for ALO7, I have seen interviews from good, bad and everything in between, so my goal in this article is to help you master the interview process. You want to give yourself every advantage over your competition.

Let break down everything you need to do to ace your Online English Teaching interview.

Teaching English Online is Real Work. Prepare Well and Have the Right Attitude.

Two important words that you should take to heart before you have an interview are:

  • Preparation
  • Attitude

The impression you make in an interview is critical. For many, online tutoring is a new experience and you are not expected to be perfect. What an interviewer will be looking for is whether you are well-prepared, and whether you have a positive attitude to be an online ESL teacher.

You must approach an online interview the same as you would an offline interview. First impressions are critical, so be sure to read all the information about the interview sent by the company you are applying with. Verify any login information that was provided to you to make sure it works.

Have the contact information of your interviewer or the company’s support available. If you aren’t able to do the interview at the scheduled day or time, alert the interviewer and/or company as soon as possible.

Whatever you do, don’t unilaterally decide to skip the interview. Your interviewer has allocated their time to meet with you, so not showing up won’t be viewed positively by the company should you request another interview in the future. If there was a good reason why you were unable to show, reach out to your company contact as soon as you are able to let them know what happened. Even if you decided you no longer wanted to pursue the job, be professional and communicate with them.

If you are experiencing technical issues on the day of your interview, let your contact know as soon as possible. You are going to be evaluated on many things during the interview, and one will be having properly working equipment, as this is essential for an online classroom. It is better to resolve your technical issues before the interview rather than move ahead with a subpar performance, or take time away from the interview to try and solve the problem. Rescheduling doesn’t show a lack of ability. It sends a message that you take pride in showing your best to the company.

Get Your Online Teaching Equipment Right

Before you arrange your interview, be certain that your equipment meets the specifications of the company. I have had many interviews where the prospective tutor doesn’t meet the internet speed requirements or doesn’t have a headset and cannot proceed with the interview after it has already begun.

Having an ethernet connection (plugged directly from the wall to the computer) is preferred, however, WiFi is acceptable. Ensure that your internet is running smoothly at the time of the interview. Imagine being evaluated when your video freezes, your voice cuts out, or where the courseware you are being tested on fails to respond. If using WiFi and your signal is poor, move to another room where the signal is better.

Disable or temporarily suspend popups, notifications, antivirus programs and automatic updates on your computer before the interview. You don’t want these showing up in the middle of your interview, especially during a mock class you may be asked to demonstrate.

Make sure you have a good headset and microphone. A common error interviewee’s make is that they are wearing a headset with an attached microphone but have the incorrect microphone selected on their computer, so as they sit back or move around, they can’t be heard well.

Your webcam should be clear, not blurry or pixelated. If you are using a background, even if its images and text are on a wall behind you, ensure that the webcam is mirrored properly so your background is not in reverse. If you use props or visual aids, which I highly recommend, make sure they are sized properly so they are legible.
You’ll need to be visible from at least your shoulders and above, and that your entire face and head are visible and well lit.

Sit (or Stand) in a Quiet and Clean Environment with Good Lighting

You want your environment to be quiet and free of distractions. Let your family know that you will be doing an interview and ask that they don’t make any noise that can be heard from the area where you will be interviewing. Keep your pets away, not only because they might make noise, but also because they might jump up and become a distraction to you and the interviewer. If you are expecting visitors or deliveries, put a note on your door to alert them of your unavailability.

Set your mobile and home phones to silent or turn them off. Don’t have any music playing in the background. If there is the potential for any noise to come from outside, for example, landscapers, keep your windows closed, or better still, schedule your interview for a time when they won’t be there.

Your area should be neat and free of clutter. The interviewer will be looking to see how your space will be reflected to your students in an actual online classroom.

While you want to have good lighting, be aware of where you are sitting and the time of day. Glare from sunlight through the windows and blinds could creep up during the interview and have a negative impact.

Prepare for the Interview

Prepare, prepare and prepare some more! Read all communications sent to you from the company. Do some research about it, so you know some of its history and what the job requirements are. Try and find online videos of sample classes, demonstration interviews and mock lessons, so you know what to expect, and what is expected of you.

It’s also a good idea to prepare questions for your interviewer. It shows that you have put some thought into the job.

Dress professionally. Yes, this is an online job, but you want to present yourself the same as you would for any other job. Some companies expect their online teachers to wear a collared shirt, conceal tattoos, and remove any visible body jewelry. The reason this might be the case is that many societies where online ESL learners are based have more conservative cultures in terms of how a teacher should dress and look. Even if there are no such requirements, view yourself as a professional. Avoid apparel such as T-shirts, sleeveless shirts, and, of course, don’t wear pajamas.

Have good posture and sit properly without slouching. Look into the camera.

Be ready to explain why you want the job. Put some thought into it. You want your answer to be focused on teaching and what you have to offer to your potential students.

Prepare and Practice for the Demo Lesson

You will likely have to present a mock class demonstration. Every company will have different requirements, but try not to be too nervous or overwhelmed by it.

Once again, prepare! I can’t tell you how many times someone has aced the first half of the interview but are completely unprepared for the mock class. No one is expecting you to be perfect. Your interviewer probably wasn’t when they did their mock class. If you are familiar with the materials, courseware, annotation tools, and try and incorporate some props and use “Total Physical Response” (TPR), I can assure you that your interviewer will notice.
If you have worked for another online tutoring company, don’t assume that what was expected by them will be the same as with the company you are interviewing with.

In some mock classes, the interviewer may represent the kinds of students you will have. It can be intimidating to talk to another adult who is simulating a child, but try to focus on what you are there to do. It’s very similar to theater. When the lights go on, it’s your time to shine. Try to make your mock class suitable for the age the interviewer is representing. They may even represent multiple students, so you’ll need to adjust how you tutor to different ability levels of each “student” in the same mock class.
Several people in the company besides your interviewer will likely review the mock class, so you want to be at your best. Try to complete the mock class in the time allowed, covering all or as much of the lesson as possible. If you find you have extra time to spare, try to engage the “student” with conversation related to the lesson. Interviewers are looking to see how a prospective tutor manages their time.

If the courseware you are using in the mock class has tools such as annotation, arrows, shapes and highlighters, know how to use them.

Be energetic and show passion. You need to distinguish yourself from others. You will be tutoring young children, so behave accordingly and smile! Your students may not have had any interaction with a foreign teacher before, so you want to put them at ease and make the class a fun experience for them.

If things go wrong technically, stay calm. Try not to show your frustration and roll with the punches. Remember, this is a digital based job, and your interviewer has probably seen it all. Having a good temperament will be something the interviewer will take note of.

Your interviewer may offer some critique after your mock class. Try and take the criticism positively and as a learning experience. You may disagree with some things, but this is not the time to be argumentative. The interviewer is very familiar with what their company is looking for and if you want to work for that company, you’ll have to adapt to meet their standards.

Another thing to avoid is focusing on what you think you did wrong. If you feel you need to say anything about that, make it something positive, for example “I realized I could have used more props and if I am given the opportunity to be hired by your company, I’ll make sure to use them more often and effectively.”

End of the Interview

Before the interview ends, try and ask some follow-up questions if they were not answered in the interview. Show enthusiasm about hearing the company’s decision and thank your interviewer.

With all of this information, you’ll be sure to master your interview.

Good luck!

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Michael Wasserstein
Michael Wasserstein
Michael is a native of Brooklyn, New York, now residing in South Florida. He is a graduate of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, with a Bachelor’s Degree (B.A.) in Psychology. He has an extensive background teaching computer technology to students, young and old and is a TEFL certified ESL online teacher who is passionate about creating a fun and engaging learning culture for his students. He trains online tutors and is a writer of educational scripts for video content. Michael plays guitar and has performed as a guitarist and bass player in several bands throughout his life. He loves the outdoors and animals, especially dogs.

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