Let’s not pretend that there are any big secrets. The technology is simple. No one has invented an anti-stuttering filter or a bad answer translator. An online TEFL interview is just an interview. All same rules apply; be prepared, be poised, show them who you are and insist that they do the same.
We’ve compiled a set of online TEFL interview best practices. If you are nervous, soak them in. If you are confident, read them anyway. A little reassurance goes a long way.
Check the Tech
Direct from the Department of Duh. Test your online interview platform (Skype, Google chat, etc.) before the interview starts. Call your mom out of the blue, she’ll love it. Make sure your microphone is working. Make sure you can hear mom loud and clear. It doesn’t matter if the tech was working fine yesterday, check it today. If you were the interviewer and the first thing you heard was, “Hello. Hello. I can’t see you. Can you see me?” would you trust that person to manage a classroom?
Do Your Research
Find out everything you possibly can about the school before your online TEFL interview. Check their website. Check their Facebook page. Look for reviews on the ESL forums. Often times current TEFL teachers will form Facebook groups specific to their area, i.e. Buenos Aires ESL Teachers. Message those groups and ask for an honest assessment of your prospective employer. It is about more than appearing knowledgeable. You’re interviewing for a job on the far side of the world. Bad surprises are, well, bad.
Feed Their Ego
Whether your online TEFL interview is with the owner of the school or a high-level director, that person is going to be very proud of their program. Take advantage of that pride. Be prepared with a list of questions. What kind of work does the school do with the local community? Did you start out as a TEFL teacher yourself? I’ve read everything I can about (insert country) but what are the books not telling me? I need advice from a local! The more you get them talking, the better they will think the interview went.
Stop Grammar Sweating
Every new TEFL teacher freaks out about grammar questions. Stop it. No one is going to ask you a complex grammar question mid-interview. At worst they will give you an easy one. How would you introduce the simple past to a class of mixed-level students? What is much more likely, and be prepared for this, is that they will ask you to prepare a lesson plan by the end of the week. They will then use that lesson plan as a discussion point during your follow-up interview.
They Can See You
Body language. Body language. Body language. The video aspect is irrelevant. All the same rules apply. Make eye contact. Don’t slouch. Don’t let your arms flutter around like a plastic bag in the wind. Go old school and practice in front of the mirror. Answer the questions you think they are going to ask. If you don’t look calm, confident and decidedly non fidgety, keep practicing.
If you are funny be funny. If you are sarcastic be sarcastic. If you are a philosopher philosophize. Every company hires in part based on personality. Office dynamics are at stake. In the TEFL world this is especially true. Your prospective employer needs know that you will be able to get along with your students and fellow teachers. AND they need to know that you can handle the rigors and weirdness of living in a foreign country. A simple joke that hints at who you are may be the thing that makes them realize, this person can do the job, this person can live here.
Feeling reassured? Good. Now, go ace that online TEFL interview!