5 Simple Steps to Nail an Online Teaching Interview

5 Simple Steps to Nail an Online Teaching Interview

You’ve had interviews before. You know the drill. Dress to impress. Bring your resume and cover letter with you. Make meaningful eye contact. Remember the names of your interviewers and make sure to shake their hands at the end. But what about an online teaching interview over Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet? It’s impossible to shake hands, and eye contact is difficult. Plus, with all the technology involved, how do you know your experience with in-person interviews will be able to overcome your lack of experience looking professional over a webcam?

These concerns are serious for any teaching applicant today, as many schools are opting to interview candidates over the internet rather than in person. They are especially important for teaching applicants who hope to teach primarily online. Whichever situation you are in, you can follow these steps to prepare for your interview.

Step 1: Set up your online teaching interview space.

5 Simple Steps to Nail an Online Teaching Interview

Unlike an in-person interview, where the discussion location is predetermined by employers, online interviews require you to create an appropriate environment for yourself. Whether you plan on teaching in-person or online, the presentation of your environment matters to potential employers.

If you’ve done any distance teaching this year, maybe you already have a space set up. If not, here are the ideal conditions for your interview space:

  • The space should be reliably quiet, where you will not be interrupted. Avoid opening windows or doors. Don’t be afraid to make a door sign indicating that you are in an interview and should not be disturbed. During the interview, turn off your phone or leave it in another room!
  • Make sure the area visible to the webcam in your space is uncluttered. You may choose to add a prop or two, such as a globe or a stack of books, for aesthetic purposes, but keep it clean! Obscuring the room behind you with a curtain or other blocker is also an option.
  • Position your webcam at or slightly above eye level. Depending on your device, you may need to get creative to make this work. Add a sturdy box or book stack to your desk to elevate your laptop to the appropriate position.

Step 2: Lighting is key!

Lighting is key to online interviews

Lighting can make the difference between a great video call and one that is just so-so. Consider the lighting in your call as part of your outfit or presentation. Do you want to look energized and prepared, or do you want to look like you’re interviewing from the inside of a cave? The great news is, even if you are in a cave, you still have some control over the lighting in your interview space. Keep these aspects of lighting in mind during this step:

  • Yellow or incandescent light is easy on your eyes, but this light source will cause your skin to appear discolored or “off” on camera. If using artificial light, white LEDs are better.
  • Do not sit with a window or bright light behind you or on one side of you.
  • Ideally, set yourself up so that you’re facing a window. If the light from the window is too bright, pull a thin curtain over the window to create muted, natural light.
  • Still not bright enough? Find a small lamp, ideally with a white light, and place it directly behind your laptop or webcam so that it lights up your face.

Step 3: Put thought into your online teaching interview outfit.

Put thought into your online teaching interview outfit.

This is a simple step, but there are pitfalls to avoid here. First, recognize that your webcam likely has a slight fisheye lens, meaning that it may distort the proportions of whatever it is centered on if that thing is too close. Since you will be centered in front of the camera during your online teaching interview, this should impact your outfit choices:

  • Avoid tops that are too tight or dip low. That way you can lean forward a little during the interview, emphasizing your face in the camera rather than your upper body.
  • Dress to impress! Wear a complete interview outfit, even though your potential employers can only see your head and shoulders. According to a study about the impact of clothing on workplace performance, you will perform better in the interview if you feel professional. Also, if for any reason you need to stand up during the interview, you’ll be in slacks instead of boxers or yoga pants.

Step 4: Prepare notes for questions appropriate to the job.

Prepare notes in advance for online interviews.

One of the benefits of interviewing online is that no one can see the notes sitting on your lap. Take full advantage of this fact, keeping in mind that you should not be looking down too much during your interview. Preparing answers and examples to the following questions will show your online employer that you are ready for the job:

  • How would you support student engagement in your online classroom?
  • How would you encourage student collaboration?
  • What is your plan for providing individual help to students in an online setting?

Step 5: Make virtual “eye contact.”

How to make eye contact online

There is a simple way to maintain eye contact over a video call. While you may be tempted to look at the faces on the screen, you will appear more natural if you ignore the screen altogether, instead looking directly into your webcam. This gives the illusion of eye contact and will help your potential employers connect with you during the interview.

Follow these simple steps, and you are well on your way to winning at your next online teaching interview!


5 Simple Steps to Nail an Online Teaching Interview

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Iris Planchet

Senior Member

Iris Planchet is a middle school Language Arts teacher. She loves teaching about her favorite books, including House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer and Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Outside of reading and writing, you can find her baking, playing guitar, or playing board games with her family.
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