There is an increase in the number of TEFL job interviews being conducted by Skype in recent years. This is down to an increase in International placements, global recruiters, and the convenience of Skype. You shouldn't be surprised if a position you apply for asks to interview you by Skype; even the largest organizations conduct their interviews this way.
While not being surprised is one thing, being fully prepared is a different story.
As with every stage of the application/interview process, you'll want to take this opportunity to impress.
Getting It Right - Preparation
Let's assume then that you've been accepted for an interview and it's going to take place on Skype. There are some simple things you can do before it takes place to ensure it will go off without a hitch, and there are some things you can do five minutes before as well!
If you've not got Skype installed on your computer, it's recommend you do so. Yes, you can use it on a smart phone, but some TEFL interviews can last up to an hour, do you want to be holding your phone for that long? Besides, you will also need to take notes and in some cases be asked to go on video, so computer is 100% the best option.
First up, you'll want a decent headset and mic. Most computers have a built-in mic, but the quality isn't usually great and can pick up a lot of background noises. It will be much better if you can use a headset, borrow one from a friend if you don't have one, or even invest in a good one. You can find relatively good quality ones for reasonable prices that will be a big improvement on a built-in mic.
You'll want to use the Skype call testing service a few times beforehand, and adjust the levels accordingly to make sure that there are no issues with your headset.
You will also need a good Internet connection. This might not be something you can arrange at short notice, so do your best to make the most of your current connection:
- Shut down any other programs like Facebook or web messengers while using Skype. You don't want bandwidth going elsewhere.
- Ask anyone else in the house to refrain from using the Internet while you're having your interview. A bad connection can really slow things down.
- Disconnect smart-phones and other devices that use the same connection.
- If your connection is really slow, consider going somewhere with a good connection, as long as it will be quiet and stable!
As with a mic, you will also want to make sure you have a decent camera. The built-in camera is usually good enough for this (assuming you have one). It's not often the case that you'll be required to have a video interview, but you'd hate to be unprepared for it wouldn't you?
If you've never used Skype before, it would also be a good idea to test it out once or twice with a friend, just so you become familiar with the interface.
The Interview Itself
Hopefully you'll have no issues sorting out a microphone, camera, and decent connection. Now you'll be ready for the interview itself, at least in terms of hardware. What else can you do to give the best impression?
As we mentioned with our article on email etiquette, you'll want to make sure you conduct yourself accordingly. Remember you are applying to teach English.
You will also want to prepare accordingly. We've gone into more details here, but let's have a quick summary of the things you should prepare:
- Review all the documentation and notes you've been given so far.
- Research the country/city you're applying for, and the school that is interviewing you.
- Touch up on your grammar. You will definitely be asked at least one English grammar question, and usually multiple.
- Think about your tone; you want to be friendly, but professional.
- Make a list of reasons why you'd be good for the position. (You've traveled alone before, you're adaptable, you love working with children etc).
- Dress accordingly - remember to be prepared for video! (A nice shirt/polo-shirt and looking clean and presentable is fine).
You really want to demonstrate that you're a great candidate here. The interview process is far from a formality. You need to be clearly spoken, alert, and polite.
English teachers are energetic and enthusiastic, so the interviewer will be looking for signs of this. You do not have to be over the top or like a clown, but make sure you're awake and feeling fresh. Drink some tea/coffee before the Interview and keep a glass of water on hand.
You also want to take notes. It's a great idea to ask questions at the end of the interview to show that you're serious about the position. If an idea or question comes up during the interview, write it down and ask it at the end. There's no better way to show dedication than by being professional in the interview.
You can also show signs that you're committed to that particular country. Buy a guide to that country and have a few notes about it that you can mention, start learning the language if possible, and read up on it beforehand. You will most likely be asked why you want to go there, so you need to have a reason or two! If you aren't able to buy a guide in time, at the very least have a thorough read through of the Wikipedia page for that country, and one or two forums or expat websites.
Your TEFL Qualification
You should definitely be prepared to be asked about your TEFL qualification, so you'll need to know the details. What level certification is it? How many hours did it involve? Were they classroom based, online, or both? What were the various modules involved? The recruiter interviewing you will want to know that it is a legitimate qualification and that you know what you're talking about.
If it's been a while since you completed the course, review all of the various details mentioned above.
While some interviews will prepare you more than others, you'll still want to ask questions about the position. When we place teachers in positions and arrange interviews, we give them a full briefing beforehand, so in theory they shouldn't have any questions about the position. We want to know that they've read through the documentation though, and so will other interviewers, so having one or two questions about that is a great idea.
As mentioned above, you can also jot down questions during the interview and save them for the end.
It doesn't really look like you are very committed or enthusiastic if you have no questions.
Prepare, Then Prepare Again
You can never prepare too much for any interview, and a Skype interview is no exception. Yes, you get to be in the comfort of your own home, but don't let that make you relax too much. The more you put into the interview, the more you'll get out of it.
If you need help finding a TEFL job in Asia, get in touch with us here.