How do you ace your interview and stand out from the rest? This ultimate guide will walk you through how to prepare for these common ESL interview questions.
With over two billion people speaking or learning the English language worldwide, the demand for English teachers in non-English speaking countries has soared in the past decade. Because of this demand, teaching English online has become one of the most popular professions globally, especially in the Philippines.
However, what does it take to become an online English teacher, and how do you become one? When applying to become an online English teacher, expect the competition to be tough. During the interviews, you must demonstrate not only your skills in teaching and knowledge of the language but also your leadership and communication skills when teaching students.
That’s why it’s important to prepare for interviews beforehand. This guide will give you a glimpse into the common ESL interview questions that you may encounter and help you stand out from the rest.
The first step toward a successful interview to be an online English teacher is to prepare for it. However, keep in mind that the ESL interview questions can change depending on your target country, school, or student age range. So, here’s the quick guide on how to prepare for your ESL interview.
1. Review the job description carefully
To prepare for your interviews, start by reviewing the job description and checking the roles and responsibilities that will be expected of you. Depending on the school, company, or platform that you are applying to, your duties and tasks could differ.
Reviewing the job description will give you an idea of what a school or company is looking for. It will also give you a chance to know if the role and the company suit you. Moreover, keep in mind that the ESL interview questions will likely lean toward the responsibilities and the values that a school or company is looking for. That’s why it’s important to understand the job description before heading to an interview.
2. Research about the school or company
Learn more about the school, company, or platform that you are applying for or that you would like to apply for. Keep in mind that each platform has a different structure or curriculum. For example, teaching with a school will require you to teach a class and create your own lessons. Meanwhile, teaching with a company or platform usually requires online one-on-one sessions and follows pre-selected lessons.
Moreover, researching about the platform that you are applying for will allow you to know if their values and goals align with yours. Having the same goals and values as your platform is a plus for both you and the platform you are applying for.
3. Learn about the country you’re aiming for
For those who are targeting a specific country to teach in, take the time to research the country’s culture and customs to set you apart from the rest. Although platforms like 51Talk don’t require teachers to learn a country’s language, having a background of their culture is an advantage when establishing rapport with students. Moreover, this can avoid miscommunication due to differences in culture and customs.
Read about the common customs and norms from the country that your platform will be teaching in. If you know expatriates, try to ask them about common do’s and don’ts when communicating. You can also ask other online English teachers who have taught students from the same country as your potential students.
4. Consider the age range that you will teach
Be mindful of the age range that you will be teaching. Most online English teaching platforms like 51Talk teach young children from 6 to 12 years old, but others also teach teenagers and adults. If a school or platform teaches young children, you may want to highlight your skills and experience in teaching children.
If the platform teaches different age groups, consider which age groups you are comfortable teaching. Think about what skills and experiences that you have that make you suitable to teach these age groups. This will help you prepare to answer ESL interview questions related to teaching certain age groups.
5. Prepare the right outfit, requirement, and equipment for the interview
Lastly, make sure that you have everything you need before the interview. Wear an appropriate outfit for the interview and present yourself well even if the interview is online. Also, go back to the job description and see if you need to submit requirements during the interview such as your resume and teaching certificate.
If it’s an online interview, make sure that you have the right computer equipment. It’s recommended to use a headset with a noise-canceling microphone so you can be heard loudly and clearly during the interview. Make sure to also have a good Internet connection so there are no interruptions during the interview.
Below are common ESL teacher interview questions and answers that you will encounter during interviews. Some of these are also possible questions in 51Talk interviews.
1. Tell me about yourself
Regardless of position or industry, this is the most common and universal interview question. Recruiters or interviewers ask this question to know more about your personality and interest and how it relates to your role as an online English teacher.
The best way to answer this question is to highlight skills, experiences, and interests that are relevant to teaching English online. You can mention your previous teaching background, goals as a teacher, or love of kids. Make sure to frame your answer in a way that shows you are qualified for the position.
2. What makes you qualified to become an ESL teacher?
Most schools and platforms prefer candidates with certain qualifications or certifications such as a TESOL certificate or a teaching license. This is proof that you are a competent teacher. During the interview, mentioning these qualifications or achievements will showcase your credibility as an online English teacher.
For those who do not have a teaching certificate or license, platforms like 51Talk also open their doors to professionals without a teaching background. Moreover, 51Talk offers training sessions and seminars to improve the teaching quality of their teachers. So, anyone can get the opportunity to teach online even without a teaching background.
3. Have you taught students of a different nationality before?
When interviewers ask this question, they want to know not only your experience in teaching foreign students but also how flexible you are as a person. Regardless of whether you have taught foreign students before or not, answer this question in a way that shows your flexibility and agreeableness.
You can talk about being interested in learning new cultures, experiencing different things, or challenging yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone. This also assures your interviewers that you would have no problem adapting to certain cultures and customs and communicating with foreign students.
4. Why do you want to be an ESL teacher?
This is a common interview question that you can answer incorrectly if you are unprepared for it or prepare badly for it. Although most people apply as an online English teacher to get a job or for the high teaching fees, you may want to avoid those kinds of answers. Instead, make sure your answer highlights interests or skills that are relevant to teaching. For example, you can share about your passion for teaching or love of kids. You can also tell about how you enjoy helping or empowering people to reach their goals.
5. How do you explain an elevator to a child?
This kind of question challenges you to think on your feet and tests your ability to simplify and communicate complex ideas. After all, most platforms teach young children with no background in the English language. So, you have to use simple words and grammar that young children will understand.
It also helps to use gestures when answering this question. During a lesson, gestures and facial expressions will help students understand what you are saying. So, using them during the interview will give a full picture of how you will teach your future students.
6. Do you know how to sing a nursery rhyme or children’s song?
Since most platforms teach young children and offer curriculums designed for children, you will likely need to sing along with your students during lessons. During the interview, part of your ESL interview questions will likely involve singing a nursery rhyme or children’s song that you know, so it’s good to know a few.
The key to singing is to be confident and enthusiastic. The interviewer will look at how you can make the song enjoyable and engaging to encourage students to participate.
7. How do you establish rapport with your students?
This question looks at how you build a good relationship with your students, especially during your first meeting. You can answer the question by sharing how you bonded with your previous students. For those with no teaching experience, you can talk about how you approach or talk to young children such as your family members. Overall, your answer should show how you will relate to, engage, or empathize with your future students.
8. What challenges will you encounter when teaching children?
This is one of the trickiest ESL teacher questions to answer because your answer could imply a weakness in your teaching ability. For example, talking about not being able to discipline unruly students can make it seem that you can’t manage your students. Instead, talk about practical lesson challenges such as not being able to provide enough teaching aids to help your student understand lessons. You may answer with behavioral challenges, but be sure to turn your answer into a success story.
9. How do you handle unruly students?
It’s normal for online English teachers to encounter unruly students, so interviewers will be looking at how you handle them. Instead of answering how to punish or discipline your student, you can talk about how you can engage your student better to make them interested in the lesson. You can also talk about helping unruly students overcome their challenges during lessons to motivate them to learn and participate.
10. How do you keep your students engaged during lessons?
Another challenge that most online English teachers encounter is motivating disinterested students to participate or listen during lessons. When teaching English online, you need to get your students to participate to help them learn, absorb, and apply the lessons.
You can share the different engagement techniques that you will use such as asking them about their interests and relating them to the lesson. You can also describe how you can create fun and creative lessons to motivate students to participate.
11. How do you check if your students understand the lesson content?
This ESL teacher question looks at how you go the distance to make sure that your student understands the lessons. After all, students need to understand the lesson and learn something each session. One way to answer this is using concept check questions (CCQs) or instruction check questions (ICQs). Then, you can give scenarios of when to use this as well as sample questions.
12. How do you maintain your professional development?
As a teacher, how do you improve your teaching quality? You can share that you read books, watch online tutorials, take online courses or workshops, and more. Be ready to share what you have learned recently and what else you would like to learn in the future.
If you have no access to training sessions or workshops, 51Talk offers their teachers various opportunities to learn more and improve their teaching quality, from TESOL certification to seminars. This way, 51Talk teachers will continue to grow in their profession.
13. Do you have any questions?
Did you know that the most common answer to this question is “no”? This is a question that most applicants don’t maximize. Use this opportunity to learn more about the company and other responsibilities that you might have as an online English teacher. Make sure that your questions relate to the role, company, and industry. Asking questions also shows that you’re attentive during the interview and would genuinely like to learn more about the role.
These are the ESL interview questions that you need to study and prepare for before your interview. Remember to be confident and express yourself well to pass your interview successfully. Don’t miss the opportunity to teach safely at home, be with your family, have a flexible schedule, and earn regularly.
51Talk, the leading online English education platform, offers all of these perks and more. To ensure the continuous growth of their teachers, 51Talk also offers professional and personal development through training sessions and seminars. The platform also offers other opportunities to earn more such as the Third-Party Center Accreditation Program (TPCAP).
Online English teaching has become more than just teaching the English language. Help students to speak up and stand out as you also grow professionally. That's why online English teaching continues to become a popular occupation today. If you’re ready to become an online English teacher, sign up with 51talk today.
51Talk is looking for thousands of home-based online teachers to give one-on-one English lessons. You can earn up to Php80K as a full-time teacher and enjoy a wide range of perks –