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Online interviews - practical tips - before the interview

Online interviews practical tips before the interview

I've had a fair few interviews in my time, some went well, some went badly, some jobs I wanted, some jobs I didn't, some jobs I didn't get, some jobs I did, and some jobs I ran a mile from.

Interviews are TWO WAY processes. Yes, the world is 'interesting' right now but in any interview you are also interviewing the school. So, with this in mind, here are some tips on how to ace an online interview, not just to get a job, but to get a job you actually want.

Before the interview:

Remember you are applying for a professional job.

This may come as a surprise to some, but in the majority of the world teaching is a respected profession, a school is a place of education, and learning English genuinely changes people's lives, career paths and future opportunities. Ignore this at your peril.


- dress smartly, a school is a professional workplace

- dress appropriately and respectfully for the culture of the country you are interviewing in.

- dress from top to toe, suit on top and sweatpants 'out of shot' might have worked for a lot of people through the pandemic but it will not help you feel professional

- iron your clothes, all of them, not just the 'bits that you see', do this the day before, hang everything up on a hanger ready for the next day. The less stress you have, the more relaxed you'll be

Personal presentation

- while you can't smell someone over a video call you can see if they have bothered showering, shaving, or combing their hair

- don't get drunk the night before, a raging hangover, red eyes, slurred answers and vodka sweat is not going get you hired

- beards, the thing that always strikes me when I come back to the west is facial hair, I've lived in countries where you just forget it exists, if you have a beard make sure it's neat, combed and doesn't cover your mouth

- make up, keep it light, keep it professional, check how it comes out on screen before the call, it's supposed to enhance what nature gave you, not distract from what you're saying

- tattoos and piercings, this is a difficult one, personally I'm all for both as I have both, but at interview you have to be aware of how that plays culturally. If you have visible tattoos, hands, neck, forearms, that you can't cover up, or very obvious piercings like ear plugs, double up on the smart clothes and professional attitude, blow them away with your teaching ability

Do your research

This shows the interviewer you've made the effort to find out more about the job, city, country, and culture. If you can't point to the place you're interviewing at on a map of the world, then you really shouldn't be thinking about going there.

Choose your space

- designate an area you are going to take the call from

- check what the camera will see behind you, what does it say about you? I'm personally not a fan of virtual backgrounds, they distract the crap out of me, and I'd rather be focusing on the person

- check your internet connection works in your chosen space

- mock up the space you'll be taking the call from, you need a solid surface to put your computer on and a chair to sit at, taking a call from your bed is not professional, if it's a choice of a bedroom or a kitchen, choose the kitchen

- lastly, and I can't say this strongly enough TIDY UP!

Tom Garside is Director of Language Point Teacher Education. Language Point delivers the internationally recognised RQF level 5 Trinity CertTESOL in a totally online mode of study, and the RQF level 6 Trinity College Certificate for Practising Teachers, a contextually-informed teacher development qualification with specific courses which focus on online language education or online methodology.

If you are interested to know more about these qualifications, or you want take your teaching to a new level with our teacher education courses, contact us or visit our CertTESOL FAQ and CertPT FAQ pages for details.


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