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Tips To Ace Your Online Virtual Job Interview

Here is a checklist to help you better prepare for the interview for online English teaching positions and knowing what questions should be asked during the Interview. So you’re not overwhelming in Online English Teaching and Teach Abroad world.

One key thing to notice is that instead of an in-person interview where it is usually the final step of the hiring process, you will be interviewed online through virtual interviews with online teaching companies and as well as teach abroad positions.

Ask the right questions can save you from many unexpected and unpleasant situations. Your future teaching experience and happiness not only highly depending on the ESL company you work for, but also including the factors like compensation (base hourly rate, bonus, etc), pay schedule, weekly time commitment, time zone, etc. 

5 Questions to Ask Recruiters During the Interview

1. Class Schedule

  • What is the class schedule in local time?
    • The majority of the ESL companies are based in China, so you are very likely teaching to Chinese students 6 – 10 pm Beijing time.
    • Common class schedule 9 am – 12 pm and 5 pm – 11 pm local time
  • Is there a minimum weekly hour commitment required?
    • Average 5 – 10 working hours weekly commitment
    • For Chinese companies, some require teachers to commit a minimal weekly “peak” hour time. Typically, 6 – 10 pm Beijing time.
  • Is it a fixed or flexible schedule? How about the extended hours?
    • There are 3 main types of class schedules
      • Recurring students at fixed days. ex. Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thu-Sat 6 – 7 pm
      • Pre-selecting time slots about 2 weeks ahead of the time.
      • Open the time slot spontaneously. ex. Palfish allows you to push a button and see which students need a class in at the moment or you can do a recorded live streaming class.
  • Do I get recurring students or randomly assigned?

2. Compensation

  • What is the base hourly rate?
  • How long is per class session?
    • Class Session can range from 25, 45, 60, or 90 minutes.
  • How will I be compensated for extra hours?
  • What type of bonuses do you offer?
  • What is the cancelation policy? What are the potential penalties?

3. Class Curriculum

  • Is there a set class curriculum to teach with supplementary materials (teaching guidelines, teaching materials, etc)?
  • What are the expectations for class preparation? Is it part of the working hours or outside?
  • If there is no set curriculum, then what kind of teaching preparation is expected?
  • How many students do I get per class?
    • Size of the class could range from one-on-one, one-to-many, or one-to-too-many (some are teaching local school students, so end up having 40+ students in the classroom).
  • What is the age group?
    • Preschool, K12, college students, adults, etc.
  • English level?
    • Beginner, intermediate, advanced, college prep, business professionals, etc

4. Onboarding Process and Training

  • How is the onboarding training arranged?
  • How long is the training session?
  • Is training compensated?

5. Resources and Support

  • What kind of resources and support are available? i.e. technical issues, teacher & student relationship, etc.
  • Is there any professional development or internal growth opportunities?
  • What kind of expectations does a company have for the English teachers? How do you measure the teachers’ performance?

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How to Prepare for a Virtual Teaching Job Interview?

Are you getting ready for your first interview in teaching English Online or overseas? You’re in the right place! Whether it’s a face-to-face, phone, or Skype video interview, you need to present yourself professionally, sell your qualifications and convince the employer that you’re the best candidate for this job. Here are 5 tips to help you nail your ESL teaching abroad job interview:

1. Present Yourself Professionally

First off, make sure that you’ve met all the necessary qualifications and are prepared to talk about them. Most schools would require a TEFL/TESOL certificate and a Bachelor’s degree. Though optional, prior teaching experiences would win brownie points. If you don’t have them, you must be able to explain relevant experiences or other credentials to prove that you’ll be a good ESL teacher. Secondly, dress appropriately in a nice interview outfit. This doesn’t always need to go as far as a suit and tie for a man, and a dress blouse or suit jacket for a woman, but it a least a business casual to show your professionalism. The interviews are usually conducted via a video call since you won’t be flying to the country you’re teaching at. In this case, Zoom and Skype are common software apps. Double-check your Skype profile picture (avatar)! For video calls, don’t forget to choose a place with minimal distraction in the background, somewhere quiet with a good Internet connection.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

Before the interview, research carefully the school that you’re interviewing with. You can find online reviews about the school’s salary, schedule, students, and teaching environment. You can find teach abroad local school info here or join our Facebook groups, Online ESL Jobs, Online ESL Reviews, and Teach English Abroad Jobs to learn more from other teachers. The community can be resourceful as it does not only have job postings but also school and program reviews contributed by fellow ESL teachers. It’s also important to learn about the country you’ll be living in. What’s the weather like? How about food, language, and culture? Study some of the etiquettes or cultural norms you’re expected to perform as a foreign ESL teacher. Does that sound like an ideal destination for you to work and live abroad in? Explore all of your teaching English abroad options in this comprehensive country-by-country guide.

3. Be Aware of Time Zones

When you’re scheduling your phone or Skype interview, notice the time differences between your locations (use Google!). That way, you can set up the interview time correctly. To avoid any confusion, always confirm in writing the interview time in both time zones.

4. Do Mock Interviews

As with any job interviews, you should definitely do mock interviews with a friend or family member, just to hear some objective feedback. Here are some sample questions for you to practice:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
  • Why do you want to be an ESL teacher?
  • Why are you interested in teaching in (name of the country)?
  • How would you introduce the past perfect tense to a group of 10 students?
  • What are the challenges you’ve faced in a classroom and how did you handle them?
  • How would you handle a class of students with various English levels?
  • Have you lived or traveled abroad before?
  • Can you prepare your own teaching materials and curriculum?

There’s no wrong or right answer for all of these. You shouldn’t sound like a robot either. Just be yourself! However, practicing in advance will help you feel less surprised as well as answer more smoothly and consistently.

5. Prepare to Ask Questions

Don’t skip this opportunity to “grill” your interviewer back to completely feel confident that this job fits you before any contract is signed. This is a huge opportunity and a big change! Don’t be shy to use this chance to clarify any important details that you need to understand. Here are some suggestions:

  • Are there other foreign teachers working at your school?
  • What are the working days and hours? What’s the hour requirements for teaching, lesson planning, and other work if any?
  • Will I be paid overtime if I teach more than this number of hours?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Will the work visa be sponsored?
  • Is housing provided? If so, ask what’s included. If not, ask them whether you can get any assistance finding accommodation.

6. Test Your Internet Connection

One major difference between an in-office job and the online job is that your job is highly dependent on your internet connection speed. Without a solid connection, you won’t able to conduct the interview nor deliver classes in clear quality. A bad Internet connection could get you a bad impression from a recruiter during the interview.

Test your connection before the interview(s)! Make sure your microphone and webcam function correctly. The majority of the online interviews are conducted over Zoom or Skype, so be sure you have a good familiarity with the virtual conference software/apps beforehand.

The greater the clarity in expectation would help you avoid or at least mitigated the surprises, especially when online teaching jobs are typically running outside of your home country. The questions listed above will provide you insight into the company and the level of professionalism. Great ESL companies are usually upfront with those questions and clear about their policies and procedures. So don’t be scared of all the uncertainties. Just ask questions, enjoy the teaching, and start making money!