Shanghai skyline: Pearl Tower
Kuala Lumpur towers
Abu Dhabi mosque
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

Apr 1, 2022

Nail that online demo lesson

Demo lessons are a great chance to showcase your skills, your adaptability, and your unique style as a teacher. Read on for pro tips on how to supercharge your candidacy so the school chooses you.

Since even before the COVID era, online demo lessons have been a staple of the application process for teachers working abroad. They typically occur as part of the screening process, after your CV has passed muster, and sometimes even before a more formal interview. If you have been asked to do a demo lesson, you are well on the way to getting the job.

What is an online demo lesson?

An online demo lesson can take two forms: pre-recorded and live. It’s likely in the current climate that you will be asked to run a live demo, as the school will also be evaluating your ability to actually teach online should that become necessary.

The main difference between the two formats is that a pre-recorded demo can, and should be, crafted to the point that Stanley Kubrik would hire you (if he were working in HR at a school). A live demo has more potential for chaos. For this reason, you need to plan, practice, and prepare for surprises.

​This article will focus on live demos. Read more about pre-recorded demos.

What to do before the lesson

Ask questions

How many students will there be? What are their abilities in terms of communication in English and subject competency? How much time is allocated? What is the lesson goal? Or, do you need to design your own objective? What platform will the students use? Have they used this platform before?

Asking the right questions will demonstrate your awareness of the factors involved in an online lesson, and also show that you care about doing a good job. This being said, make sure you review instructions carefully before asking questions. If you get a reply along the lines of, “Have you checked the email?” that scratching sound you hear is probably your name being scrubbed off the shortlist.


A good lesson is never an accident. Even the most experienced teacher should still have a plan. Consider your time allocation, the lesson goals, student experience, and what is realistic in terms of learning outcomes. Don’t plan to change anyone’s life in a demo lesson. Do plan to transition across 2 to 3 activity segments that showcase your classroom management skills, your empathy, and your ingenuity as a teacher.


A great thing about online platforms is that it is easy to record yourself. Ask some friends to sit in as students and do a dress rehearsal of your demo lesson. You can review yourself, or else ask a colleague to do so and give feedback. Be prepared to edit your plan. The work you put in always shows in the work you put out.

What to do during the lesson

Set up ahead of time. Optimize your environment. Be assertive yet natural. Put your cat and your kids in another room. Take notes on how the students perform so you can refer to specifics after the session.

Timing is vital in a demo, so don’t dally too long on introductions. The school wants to see what you can do, they don’t want to know what kind of day little Johnny is having. Without being too cold about it, efficiency should be part of your brand. It’s easy to be personable in a 5- to 10-minute demo, but achieving a learning outcome via two to three activity segments will really make you stand out from the pack.

Click for more detailed tips on online teaching.

What to do after the lesson

Sharing your thoughts on the performance of the students in the demo is a perfect capstone to your demo lesson. It shows you listened, and it shows you care.

A post-demo conversation is also a great chance to demonstrate that you have a growth mindset. Ask for feedback if it isn’t offered. Be prepared to talk about what you thought went well, and what could be improved. Be self-aware. Be reflective. Be a great teacher.

Finally, remember that the application process goes both ways – you are checking out the school as much as they are checking out you. Did you grow from the process? Did the school help you to realize new possibilities in your teaching? If your answer is yes, whether you get an offer or not, or whether you accept the offer or not, you are headed in the right direction.

next steps!

Explore CRS has an abundance of specialist teaching positions open for an August 2022 start. Visit our job search and explore the great jobs still available.

For Candidates

May 13, 2022

Questions in a crowded job market

read article

For Candidates

Apr 29, 2022

Expert tips on writing the perfect CV

read article


Apr 15, 2022

Next Nick needed – recruiter required

read article