Top 10 tips to prepare for your online teaching job interview

Any job application is daunting. Virtual job interviews can be pretty scary experiences, especially as English teaching is often a new career for you. Questions abound:

  • Who are you up against?
  • How many applicants?
  • What qualifications do they have?
  • Who will be interviewing you?
  • How will they be interviewing?

In the online world of English teaching and the ever-growing work-from-home job market, it's not easy knowing what you're up against or how best to prepare for that all-important first-impression online interview.

But with years of online teaching management experience under our belts and some pretty incredible teachers in our teams, we've got some best-foot-forward online teaching job interview tips to help you nail it.

1. Don't be late - in fact, be early!

Showing you're ready and respectful of the interviewer's time will be in your favor. Let's not forget too that the job is for a teaching role. You're setting the tone of your teaching standards by arriving on time and slightly ahead of schedule. And teachers always show up before their students and start their (online) classes promptly. Being late or missing scheduled online classes can result in losing your position.

2. Be time zone alert

With online teaching, you have the opportunity to teach students from all across the world. And that means your interview, too, could be with someone in a different country and time zone.

Make sure you verify time zone with the recruiter in advance and have the correct time scheduled, even if that means you must be ready for a 4am interview. Use the time and date website to convert time zones.

If you want an online job and the flexibility to work from home, you'll need to be flexible too. And that means being willing and able to adjust to international time clocks when necessary.

3. Dress professionally, impressions matter

You have 7 seconds to make a lasting first impression. By dressing the part, you have already shown yourself favorably before you've even said a word. Plus, child student parents may judge you on your appearance.

55% of recruiters disqualify potential candidates right off the bat if the candidate is not dressed appropriately. So, wear that smart shirt, and make yourself feel confident. It's exactly what you would do if this were an in-person interview, so show up the same way online.

Finally, check your profile pictures on Zoom or Microsoft Teams to ensure they're appropriate.

4. Pre-test the interview platform

Ensure you know how to access the online platform that the interviewer has invited you to, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meets. If possible, test it on a friend as a pre-run and ensure your camera, microphone and headset are working.

Just like you would prepare for a classroom lesson, ready for this. Seamless use of your online equipment will be vital in showing you've got online teaching skills. No glitches, no fuss.

5. Computer and internet - all systems go

Ensure your laptop is powered up, and have your internet plan B at the ready should you unexpectedly have a power cut or internet access issue during your interview.

You will need a decent internet connection to teach ESL online successfully. Poor internet speeds can negatively affect the interview, and most schools require a fibre connection. If you don't have a solid connection, you won't be able to carry out the job interview or deliver high-quality classes.

Explore fibre access options for your area (if you don't already have a fibre connection) and remember to:

  • Ensure you have 20 Mbps upload and download speeds
  • Run an internet speed test
  • Ethernet is almost always faster than Wi-Fi - so connect your laptop to a LAN cable

Demonstrating that you can navigate and pre-plan for technical issues shows prowess. And if you can handle life's little curve balls, you can certainly handle potential students.

6. Set the right environment

Set your interview area up in a well-lit, quiet area of your home where there are no distractions. Be considerate of your background - a white wall or plain background with minimal clutter behind you works best.

Your interviewer will be assessing your background environment as a teaching background for potential classes you would host if your application is successful. So set your voice and sound equipment to an even tone with minimal background noise or interference, and let your background also reflect that zen vibe. 

The calmer the surroundings, the calmer you will be, and your impression to your interviewer will be.

7. Be engaging

A big part of language teaching is connecting to your students. Similarly, show up to your interview with enthusiasm and be friendly. Make eye contact, smile, and be positive in your approach and body language - avoid crossing your arms and fidgeting!

Show good body posture to project an air of confidence, even if that's not how you initially feel. Job interviews can feel unnerving, and a good interviewer worth their metal knows that too and should help you feel at ease in the process.

Pro Tip: Read up on some more body language Do's and Don'ts.

Even though the interview process can seem scary, it is so important to remain your authentic self during an interview! The interviewer is 9 out of 10 times looking to get to know the real person on the other side of the screen.

Marika Boje, Global Recruitment Director,
The Really Great Teacher Company

8. Answer clearly and concisely

Answer the interview questions as directly as you can. The interviewer has limited time and probably have a few other interviews lined up. They're looking to see if you can answer the job-specific questions effectively. Here are a few sample questions to get you started:

  • Why do you want to be an ESL teacher?
  • What are your teaching strengths and weaknesses?
  • Do you have any experience with online teaching?

Avoid waffling or exaggerating your answers, but be honest and open. We're all human, and there may be one or two things in which you don't have gold-star experience. But showing that you're honest about that and also willing to learn will be in your favor. And you're a teacher – that means you totally get the importance of learning. It's what you do!

Pro tip: Sketch a weekly schedule of hours you're available to teach beforehand.

9. Come prepared with questions

online interview questions

Ask well-considered questions at the end of the interview. Queries show that you have done your homework on the company and the position you're applying for, so make sure to take the time to do this before the interview. It also shows the interviewer that you're genuinely interested in the opportunity. Ask questions about:

Class Schedule

  • What is the class schedule at your local time?
  • Is it a flexible or fixed schedule?
  • Is there a minimum number of hours required?
  • Are weekends involved?


  • Will I be teaching adult or kid students?
  • Where will the students be based?
  • Is there opportunity to teach students of other ages and languages?


  • What is the base hourly rate?
  • Will my hours be guaranteed?
  • Is there opportunity for growth in the company?

10. Back yourself

You've got this! Believe in yourself, and rest assured you're already through the first hurdle – the initial application with your CV, qualifications and demo video. You wouldn't have been scheduled for an interview if these submissions weren't promising!

So be your confident self to secure the online teaching job you've dreamed of.