How to Avoid Common Mistakes & Improve Your Pass Rate for an Online Teaching Job Interview?

The perspective of this article is derived from big data analytics and the experience of interviewers for online ESL teachers, including the most important things that interviewers look for and why most teachers do not succeed in interviews.

Whether you want to succeed in your next online interview or you simply want to look great in your next demo lesson, this article is going to address both.

This article is just like a past paper that helps you to get a pass for your interview. It includes the most important interview tips that could be used to avoid common interview mistakes.  

This article will only take you 5 – 8 minutes to read the entire contents, please read it carefully!


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Summary of this article

  1. General online interview structure
  2. Preparation before an online interview
  3. Background ideas for an online interview
  4. How you look in an online interview
  5. How to do a good demo lesson in an online interview


1. General online interview structure

There are three types of online interview:

①A complete demo lesson where the interviewer plays the student during the whole interview

②A comprehensive interview that consists of self-introduction and a demo lesson

③An interview without demo lesson but interviewer trying to get to know you and introduce projects


No matter what type of interview you have, you may end up getting knocked out of the interview for no apparent reason. You may even feel like the interviewer has not actually got to know you, but he or she has already evaluated you based on some essential elements. Interviewers have been trained to pay attention to and observe details in an interview.


To learn the details of what interviewers are looking for, please just read on.


2. Preparation before an online interview

2.1 Punctuality

Punctuality is a basic criterion for an online teacher. Please ensure that you will attend the interview on time and try not to reschedule the time, as rescheduling will greatly reduce the effectiveness of an interview. For teachers with a history of rescheduling, interviewers will be less willing to have an interview with them, or even less willing to accept them.


2.2 Network speed and equipment

Network speed and equipment are very important assessment points for online education. Please be sure to test them ahead of time. If you have such problems during an interview, interviewers usually think you do not meet the essential requirements for online teaching.


Below are what you need to ensure before an interview:

◎You are using a computer instead of a mobile device, as there are lots of functional demonstrations involved;

◎Your headset with a microphone works well;

◎Your internet connection speed meets relative requirements.


2.3 Prepare your demo lesson

Prepare your demo lesson according to the material you received with the interview invitation. Please note that well-prepared demo lessons are much better than spontaneous presentations, and interviewers can quickly tell if you've prepared ahead of time.


3. Background ideas for an online interview

Some candidates just focus on improving their teaching skills, regardless of the background of their online interview. In fact, many candidates are eliminated because their backgrounds are not suitable. Your interview background counts a lot, as interviewers will tell from it if you have online teaching experience and how your future classes will look to students. I suggest you try to demonstrate the background to highlight your teaching style and leave a professional impression on interviewers.


Here are a few tips for decorating the background for an online teaching job interview (Figure 1):

◎No beds or other furniture can be seen.

◎No personal belongings irrelevant to teaching can be seen.

◎Posters, pictures, stickers, cards, toys and other teaching aids are suggested as decorations.

◎A bright place with enough light and no shadows is required (Figure 2).


Figure 1: A few tips for decorating the background for an online teaching job interview

A few tips on proper dressing code for an interview


Figure 2: A bright place with enough light and no shadows are required

A bright place with enough light and no shadows is required


4. How you look in an online interview

Your appearance plays a crucial part in the interview. What is different from the offline interview is that an online interview requires not only proper dressing code but also correct sitting posture for the candidate, as well as the distance between the camera and the candidate.


4.1 Dressing code

The way a teacher dress has a direct impact on the company's image and the first impression a candidate makes on an interviewer. Generally, companies do not require online teachers to dress formally, but simple and neat are the most basic requirements


Here are a few tips on proper dressing code for an online teaching job interview (Figure 3):

◎Child-friendly or business casual

◎No clothes with information about politics, religions, profanity, obscenity, etc.

◎No sleeveless tops, sun-tops, sleep gowns, sleep shirts, etc.

◎Proper attire and grooming

◎No messy hair or beard

◎No heavy makeup


Figure 3: A few tips on proper dressing code for an online teaching job interview

A few tips on proper dressing code for an online teaching job interview

4.2 Sitting posture

◎Interviewers never want to see candidates sitting casually

◎A good sitting posture will add to your professional impression on the interviewer

4.3 Distance between camera and candidate (Figure 4)

◎Neither too close to nor too far from the camera

◎Ensure your upper body shown in the video


Figure 4 Distance between candidate and camera

Distance between candidate and camera


5. How to do a good demo lesson in an online interview

5.1 What should be avoided during the demo lesson?

Before I get into what interviewers are looking for in a candidate, here are a few things candidates should avoid during the demo lesson:

❌ Seldom smiling during class

❌ Showing impatience in facial expression or words

❌ Speaking too fast to young learners

❌ Lack of body language or use of props for young learners

❌ Starting the material directly without a mutual self-introduction

❌ Only repeating what the book says

❌ Seldom correcting students’ wrong pronunciation, grammar, etc.

❌ Lack of encouragements with words or other rewards

❌ Lack of expansion

❌ Paraphrasing the lesson not orally but by frequently typing in the chatbox

❌ Paraphrasing the lesson not with simple words but with professional and complicated words

❌ Trying to paraphrase in Chinese

❌ Random chat or talking about things irrelevant to the lesson material

❌ Speaking too much while not encouraging students to speak

❌ Seldom asking students to output complete sentences

❌ Giving no guidance or explanation but only the correct answer to a question


5.2 How to become a successful candidate?

Now I’m going to talk about how to become a successful candidate with all that interviewers are expecting.


✔ Prepare some props before interviews, such as some small toys, cards, and A4 paper with pictures.


✔ Introduction about yourself should be as less as possible in the interview since the interviewer has obtained the corresponding information from your resume, and what they want to know most is your teaching skills and your TPR(total physical response), speaking speed, and pronunciation.

(Many applicants spend long time giving personal introduction in the interview, like where they come from and what experience they have gained, which are tedious for all these can be found on the resume. In fact, what the interviewers want to know most is your direct teaching performance.)

✔ How to simulate a class with a student?

It’s one of the most frequently asked questions by applicants. Well, there is no need for real students, just pretend that you are teaching to a student. Using more body language and simple props like cards and toys will contribute to your demo presentation well.

Also, you should be able to interact with the students and guide them, and point out the key learning content which can be some keywords. Avoid leading students to read the teaching materials, because interviewers really don’t like it this way. The methods you use to correct pronunciation and grammar play a significant role in assessment. And pay attention to your speaking speed, never speak too fast and try to pronounce every word clearly and correctly.


✔ What to do when an interviewer pretends he doesn't understand?

Try to describe with simple words or examples, and explain through body language or props. Please do not try to translate it into Chinese.


✔ If the interview material is too short, how to complete a class?

Try to create a scene or a topic, or introduce a topic. Try to describe and expand based on the given words and sentences. If you have the ability to expand enough according to the teaching material, you can easily navigate any textbook.


All the words above are precious and based on the experience of online English teaching job interviewers. Few people have ever talked about this mystery from the interviewers’ perspective. I hope my information and knowledge sharing will help you succeed in your interview!


Good luck!


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