Shanghai skyline: Pearl Tower
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International high school
International high school
A group of teachers discussing their lessons
A job interview at an international school
Shanghai skyline: Shanghai Tower
Shanghai skyline: Shanghai Tower
Leader interview

Jun 4, 2020

Making the most of your video interview

Now more than ever, when looking for teaching work in another country you are likely to have to take part in a video interview.

While video interviews can be stressful, they are a chance to interview for a range of fantastic international teaching positions around the world. They're also an increasingly important part of international recruitment. Having been through the process himself on many occasions, Explore CRS consultant Robin Watts shares his advice on making the most of your video interview:

Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp, WeChat, Zoom, Botim...

As soon as you have decided that you are going to seek employment in another country or city, it is worth setting yourself up with the necessary platforms for video calls.

The most commonly used is Skype, so have this downloaded and ensure you can access it, especially if there are restrictions in your region. Set up a profile with a professional profile picture and a relatively unique username that is suitable for a professional exchange. Some usernames bring up multiple results (‘johnsmith’ for example). Choosing something more unique (such as ‘johnfranksmith’ or ‘chemistryjsmith’) will make it easier for interviewers to find you. 

One of the automatic Skype contacts is Echo/Sound Test Service. Calling this allows you to check your sound settings are all configured correctly.

Some school principals prefer to use other platforms and as the employer, it is really up to them which is used. Sometimes they can be flexible but I would always suggest doing what you can to use their chosen platform rather than expecting them to add yours.

Prepare for the call

After a school has confirmed an interview, they may either ask for your contact or give you theirs. If they give you their contact, add this as soon as possible so that you are connected in advance of the call. This will save delays, especially if there are lots of results for their username.

I can’t stress this enough but be ready ahead of time. Annoying things like computers and programme updates usually happen at the worst possible time, so avoid extra anxiety and giving a bad impression by logging in at least 10 minutes early.

Having said this, I also need to ask that you allow an interviewer to be late without too much judgement. While it is not ideal, lateness does not mean the school is a disorganised mess and should immediately be discounted. A patient and understanding response is going to greatly improve your chances of making a good impression, far more so than dissatisfaction or sulking. A quick, politely worded email can help too, mentioning that you are online and ready, giving your username and offering to add their contact. You might also want to send a quick message to your recruitment consultant who may be able to help link you up.

Lastly, have a pad and pen to hand to write down the interviewers’ names at the start so you don’t forget them. Also, have a glass of water available in case of a nervous dry throat and, most crucially, be sure to have visited the bathroom in advance.

What’s on camera

Unless there are major technical difficulties (more on those below) then it is likely the camera will be on during your interview. Unfortunately, candidates all too often overlook how important it is to consider what the interviewers are seeing.

Check the lighting and the angle of your camera. A dark and gloomy-looking room or too much backlight is off-putting. Nobody wants to be looking up a potential employee’s nose, so make sure the angle of the camera is right.

Make sure, if possible, you are not interrupted by visitors to the room and that whatever is visible behind you on screen looks presentable. A tidy background will enhance the overall impression. If you are in your classroom, a nice piece of student work on the wall or some algebra on the board looks better than a pile of unfinished marking. 

Finally, your own presentation is important. Although you only need to consider what is actually visible, it is important to treat this like a face-to-face interview and wear the same formal attire you would to a live meeting.

Embrace technical difficulties

Technical difficulties are frustrating, anger-inducing and, often, out of one’s control - much like many of the things a teacher might face in the classroom. It’s important to remember this. Your response to technical issues during your video interview will give your interviewer a glimpse of how you deal with unexpected difficulties in the classroom or school environment.

When experiencing technical difficulties, be calm, take a light-hearted view and show patience. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat a question and expect to repeat things yourself too. It can be worth suggesting turning off the camera as this can improve sound. Sometimes it is necessary to end a call and try again, or even to use a different platform.

Sometimes an interview gets cancelled due to technical difficulties and while this is frustrating all you can do is reschedule. If you felt you didn’t get enough information from an interview because of difficulties or reduced time, but have been offered a position, then definitely ask for a followup call.

Opt for face-to-face if you can

In my opinion, the video call remains hugely inferior to a face-to-face interview or school visit. Job fairs, like those organised by Explore CRS, and interview weekends can be great ways to have face-to-face meetings and interviews about an international role.

However, sometimes there just isn’t an alternative to a video interview. In these instances, organising your computer, video platform, room, appearance and time could be the difference between getting that dream job or not.

next steps!

We’d love to help you in your job search, so please do create and complete an Explore CRS candidate profile.

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