Teachers on the Move

Teachers on the Move – Virtual Interviews

February 26, 2019


In an ever increasing virtual world you are nearly as likely to be hired after an interview on Skype, Facetime, What’s app or other virtual platform.  Even if you attend a fair, there can often be a follow up interview with a member of the team on the ground at the school. Leadership positions in particular, the first and second rounds of recruitment are often done virtually, then finalists are flown in to view the school and be grilled in person. Additionally several recruiters are now running virtual fairs, hopefully this will be posted in time for the ISS/Schrole March Fair for which you can register here.

My first two international positions I took over the phone, indeed one, standing in a very wet and windy Edinburgh phone box outside the school I was working in.  But these days, with the proliferation of hand held devices, you can be literally anywhere when you are asked to interview. I had a Skype interview for my position in the Sudan while volunteering in rural Uganda, a series of interviews for KL which ran over three countries I was travelling through, and more recently Skyped with several schools from a beach hut in Thailand!  

I have been very surprised recently, when working with some of my coachees, of how unaware they are about how they are presenting themselves when interviewing virtually. So I decided to write a post with some tips and considerations for a virtual interview.

With these tips you should be able to conquer the world of virtual interviewing and achieve the international teaching position of your dreams.

Firstly, make sure you have the correct time, have someone double check the time differences with you.  Also ensure that you have added the contacts well in advance and checked them with a quick message.

Secondly, choose your location. You need to ensure:

  • A clean, non-distracting background behind you
  • Good lighting but not lights that gleam on the screen, blinding your interviewer
  • Your devices is physically secure
  • No residual environmental sound or other passing distractions

A headset with inbuilt microphone can be a great and cheap investment, avoiding you having to lean into the computer, and also cutting out any environmental sound.

Next, organise your resources. Do you have everything you might need during the interview?

  • A note pad
  • The questions you want to ask
  • Any information you have from the school, job description, contractual terms and so forth
  • A glass of water (talking can be thirsty work)

One of the benefits of a Skype interview is that you can be well prepared and have resources at your finger tips, it is quite ok to look down occasionally when thinking.

Finally, consider your personal presentation. You need to ensure that:

  • You look neat and tidy (women with long hair should clip it back so that it doesn’t fall forward, your eyes need to be clearly seen)
  • You are comfortable and relaxed (you really do not need a jacket and tie unless for a very formal institution)
  • Your face and shoulders are visible but not more.  Women in particular should be careful about where the screen edge falls.

It seriously does not hurt to practice, fire up your camera and see how you look and sound prior to any virtual interview.

At least 15 minutes before starting, check

  • You have the right time
  • Your device is well charged or attached to mains power
  • Your internet is steady and you have enough data
  • Your sound input and output settings are correct

I always do a Skype test call before any Skyping session.

General interview tips will be covered in another post, but these four are very virtual interview specific.

  1. You may face a panel, it is fine to write down the persons name and position, or even to ask them to reiterate it when they ask you a specific question. Once I faced a panel of 9 people. It was extremely confusing. I asked afterwards to be connected with the Head of Primary, because I wasn’t clear who she was!
  2. You may have difficulties with connection. Always, always state when you are having difficulties, and be proactive in suggesting to retry, put the camera off or to move to a different platform. It demonstrates that you are calm and able to adjust to situations
  3. Speak clearly and confidently, enunciating each word, without overemphasising.
  4. When you move, be sure to move in a controlled and relaxed way

(avoid sudden jerky movements and over expressive gestures).

As ever though, be yourself, and don’t try to sell yourself into a position that you don’t really want. Best of luck with your virtual recruitment!

Kirsten Durward is the PYP Coordinator at KIS International School in Bangkok.  With leadership experience in 5 schools, she has been interviewing candidates and coaching teachers through the application process for many years.  She enjoys supporting educators to make successful transitions in a myriad of ways. You can find her on Linkedin or through the facebook group ‘Teachers on the Move’. Kirsten’s coaching practice supports educational projects in Uganda, a country she holds dear to her heart.