TEFL 101: Skype Interview Success

So you’ve done your research, searched high and low and had some positive responses from your application emails – yay you!

As with any job, you will be expected to go through some sort of interview process before landing yourself a TEFL job.  This interview process will vary greatly from place to place, from vigorous multiple interviews and teaching demonstrations to a more laid back ‘just doing this for a formality’ face to face chat.

Due to the nature of TEFL work taking place across the globe, and that most undertaking a job search are doing so from a different country than their destination of choice, more and more often the go to method for TEFL job interviews is via Skype.

Interviewing via Skype carries its own positive and negative points.  For some, a layer of nervousness is removed by the virtual setting.  For others, the thought of adding the extra potential complications of technology – laptop, webcam, internet – in fact adds another layer of things to worry about.

Time zones

If you are looking at TEFL positions, it is likely that you may be interviewing for a job that is in a different country and therefore different time zone.  Most potential employers will take this into consideration, however it is likely that the interview will need to take place during their office hours, and so you may have to make some compromise.  You may find yourself with an interview in the middle of the night or extremely early in the morning – be prepared for this!  Another point on the topic of time zones – triple check the time difference and confirm the time of your interview in both your local times – you don’t want to end up sat in front of the computer at 9 am your time when the interviewer meant 9 am their time, which isn’t for another seven hours…

What to wear

Just because you are interviewing virtually, it doesn’t mean that you should be any less prepared or should take your interview any less seriously than if it were face to face.  It may seem odd getting dressed up without leaving your front door, but you really should dress just as formally as you would for a regular interview.  Yes, technically you could wear your pajama bottoms and fluffy slipper with a shirt and tie on top, but what if you need to get up to get something, or if the camera slips and your outfit choice is revealed?  Not only will it be ever so slightly embarrassing having your dodgy bedroom attire revealed, but it will also reveal that you don’t consider this interview to be as serious – not the best impression to give to a potential employer.

Location, location, location

You may be more comfortable perched on the end of your bed, but it doesn’t really set the right tone for an interview and you are risking having your potential employer spotting all sorts of things (I’m not even going to go there…) – choose an area of your home that is free from distraction, preferably well lit (near a window for natural light if you can) and that doesn’t suffer from bad internet signal.  If you have pets, shut yourself away from them (a visit from the cat may be cute and funny but could completely throw you if you are feeling a little nervous) and the same goes for people.  I think that most people would prefer to interview alone but if you have an overly inquisitive housemate, politely tell them to get lost and leave you alone!  A sign on the door to warn others away in a busy household will also help you to avoid having anyone burst in unexpectedly.

Double check EVERYTHING

Get yourself set up at least 30 minutes before the pre-arranged interview time.  Make sure that your internet connection is running smoothly and that your computer is ready – Skype installed and updated (the last thing you want is for Skype to start updating when you are expecting an important call in 5 minutes), no task bar full of internet windows and unsaved word documents (this will only slow your computer down and may cause unwanted pop ups or other distractions).  Carry out a few test calls on Skype to make sure that your audio levels are OK, and open up your webcam to check the camera angle and lighting.

Your secret weapon

The beauty of having your interview on Skype is that you can have a variety of things within your sight that can’t be seen by the interviewer.  Do your research on the school and the specific job you are going for  and have some notes to hand – think about the person specification and how you best fit and make yourself a list of things to try and include in your responses when being interviewed.  Try to make your notes using key words rather than full sentences; you want to remind yourself of key points to mention rather than providing yourself with an autocue.


Your computer is all set up, you are in the perfect location free from distractions, at the right time, dressed to impress and with your prepared notes within view – if you have done your research on the job you are interviewing for, all you can do now is be yourself, SELL yourself, and hope for the best.  GOOD LUCK!

Do you have any Skype interview tips that I missed out?  Feel free to leave a comment below – sharing is caring 🙂

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5 thoughts on “TEFL 101: Skype Interview Success

  1. Hello,

    I’ve read through your blog a bit and noticed that you have been through the process of changing jobs. If I plan on switching from one school to another what would be the process for changing over my work permit. I understand I have to cancel my current one to get the new one but am unsure of the finer details. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated!

    Keep up the great work on your blog!

    1. It can depend on the timing and how many months you have left on your wp – technically it is possible for a transfer to be made without you leaving the country – I only had 1 month left on mine and was told this wasn’t enough time. So I stayed in Thailand (and started working the new job while my new school processed the paperwork) until my old wp expired, then I went on a visa run (for me in the south this was to Penang). Not all of my paperwork was ready so I had to apply for a 90 day Tourist, came back to Thailand (and carried on working, naughty naughty) until all my paperwork was ready (90 days was more than enough time) and then went back to Penang for a second visa run to get my Non-B.

      So it took 2 visa runs and a little bit of illegal working on a tourist visa. All the paperwork was sorted by my HR department so I’m afraid I don’t know the finer detaiks, apart from I do know that the one piece of paper that I didn’t have in time (and which meant I had to work on a tourist visa while we waited) was from Khurusapa…

      Sorry I couldn’t tell you it was a smooth process! But hope this helps a little 🙂

      1. Sounds like it is a difficult process in but follows the same trend as what I’ve been facing now regarding illegally working. Good to know about that possibility. It’s all situational.

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