4 Tips for Acing the Online Interview

Written by: Elizabeth Heubeck
Published on: Mar 31, 2020

Virtual Interviewing

Credit: iStock / Getty

For now, in-person interviews are on hold at most of the nation’s school districts due to the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns. But that doesn’t mean hiring new teachers for the upcoming school year has come to a halt. Increasingly, technology-savvy employers are leaning on virtual communication platforms to screen and interview teacher candidates, say experts. 

“Organizations are going to find that virtual platforms speed up and create a better experience for hiring managers and candidates, which will help them better compete for talent,” said Ron Wilson, CEO of interviewstream, a video interviewing platform company.

Some organizations are ahead of the curve, having already discovered the benefits of screening and interviewing job candidates virtually. Here, they share their advice for teaching candidates preparing to tackle the online interview. 

1. Test your technology in advance 

Whether you’re a digital native or a self-proclaimed Luddite, it’s a good idea to test out—in advance—whatever video platform you’re using for your virtual interview. Also, make sure your internet connection is reliable. “Poor internet connection can destroy an interview in seconds,” said Andrew Wigford, director of Teachers International Consultancy, which hires an estimated 300 teaching positions around the globe annually using virtual interviewing exclusively. 

Wigford acknowledges that younger candidates tend to have far more experience and, subsequently, an increased comfort level in front of a screen. “We often get older candidates who do not position themselves well in front of the camera; all you can see is the top of their head, for example,” he said. Others forget to turn on their microphones. “We encourage all candidates to practice with us before the real thing,” he emphasized.

2. Show enthusiasm 

Whether in-person or online, a display of passion matters to job recruiters. In a recent Jobvite survey, 78 percent of recruiting managers reported that a job candidate’s enthusiasm influences their hiring decision. It might matter even more to teacher recruiters. “Education is, like it or not, an active theatrical endeavor to a certain degree. We’re looking for people who can keep a classroom of 14- to 18-years-olds engaged in a lesson,” said Greg Dietz, director of Human Resources for Maine Township High School District 207 in Park Ridge, Ill. 

As the school district begins to rely more heavily on virtual platforms to screen job candidates, their passion, or lack thereof, becomes evident even sooner in the hiring process. “You can tell their enthusiasm, their engagement level, from a video interview. But not from a resume,” Dietz noted. 

3. Follow the same guidelines you would in a traditional interview 

True, you’re most likely engaging in a virtual interview from the comfort of your own home. But don’t get too comfortable, advise experts. Wigford says that job candidates interviewing from home sometimes seem to get easily distracted or fail to prepare for an interview as thoroughly as they would if they were meeting a potential employer in-person. “Ensure that you’re professionally dressed, on time, and making eye contact even if you’re taking notes,” advised Marissa Ring, a senior recruitment professional with Teach for America who routinely conducts virtual interviews with job candidates.  

4. Stay positive 

Maybe you’re new to or just plain nervous about the world of online interviewing. If so, it’s important to recognize that most employers have your best interest in mind. “We really work to build a strong rapport with our candidates. We want them to have a strong interview experience,” said Ring. What’s more, the attitude you project about the virtual interview will leave a lasting impression with the job recruiter. “If someone’s not willing to do a virtual interview, it’s an indicator that they’re not willing to change,” said Dietz. “Inertia in schools is a killer.”