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11 tips for a successful teacher phone interview

You might have noticed that a lot of the teaching opportunities on the Teach Away job board require candidates to participate in a pre-screening interview.

Psst: Before you can ace your phone interview, you actually have to get the phone interview.

Check out these posts for tips on getting your teach abroad job application in shipshape:

These interviews usually take place over the phone and provide the opportunity for you to be matched with a Placement Coordinator (go check out our recruiter team if you’d like to put a face to the name!), who will help you move forward with the application process.

In other words, being able to successfully pass a telephone interview is key to getting a teaching job abroad with programs and school that we’re currently hiring for, like the Explore Program in China and Abu Dhabi Public Schools and UAE Government Schools in the Middle East.

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Here’s our advice to help you nail your next teacher phone interview:

1. Set aside time and space.

Book some time out of your day for the interview. Take the call in a quiet location that’s private and comfortable, avoiding interruptions or noise interference. The grocery store, coffee shop, your classroom or your car are not good places to take a phone interview.

Ensure that your line has a clear connection and provide a landline number if possible. Each of these steps will ensure the interviewer can properly hear and understand you, showing that you’re taking the process seriously and will also allow you to focus on being the best you can in the interview.

2. Be ready for the phone call.

Missing a call for a phone interview is just like missing any formal appointment. It may not spell the end for your job chances, but if the employer has a long list of applicants to speak to, they may not have time to try again, especially if they’re calling from another time zone.

Set an alarm and write it in your calendar to remind you of the time and date. Put your phone on a loud ringtone, and keep it in front of you well in advance of the scheduled interview time.

3. Take any phone call from a potential employer or recruiter just as seriously as an in-person opportunity.

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You might be surprised, but there are a lot of candidates who drop the ball on their pre-screening interviews by failing to recognize the significance of the call.

We hear from a lot of candidates requesting rescheduled interviews and cancellations and from those who simply are not prepared for their phone interview because they don’t view it as a very important step in the process.

4. Have quick access to key resources.

Before your phone interview begins, make sure you have quick access to your resume, application and the job description. You don’t want to have to flip through papers or search online during the interview.

Considering there’s a good chance you’ve applied for more than one teaching job, having the job description handy and reviewing it before the call will remind you which placement exactly you will be speaking about.

5. Answer thoroughly.

Always think before you answer and take your time. Listen to what the interviewer is asking you and answer relevantly. Even though your phone interview may seem more casual, interviewers will still be expecting quality answers that show off your skills.

One-sentence answers do not explain the complexity of what you achieve with your students on a day-to-day basis. Make sure you prepare typical interview answers in advance and detail solid examples of when you’ve put your methods into practice.

6. Language and voice matter.

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In-person interviews allow you to play to your body language, facial expressions, and demeanour, but telephone interviews rely almost solely on language and voice.

Speak at an easy-to-follow cadence – don’t speak too quickly. Make sure your voice is clear. Use positive language in your responses. Maintain proper professionalism and a broad vocabulary, but avoid using words you don’t fully understand.

7. Eliminate distractions.

As well as ensuring your physical space is prepared for the interview, make sure you adjust your phone settings to avoid unwanted interruptions. Silence call waiting features and make sure your phone isn’t receiving distracting notifications during the interview.


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8. Take advantage of the phone format.

During phone interviews, you’re free to have some key points and examples jotted down in a notebook in front of you. Avoid reading directly from notes because it will become obvious to the interviewer.

Brief pointers to ideas and examples that can be built upon are most useful in guiding you to phone interview success.

9. Smile.

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Studies have shown that body language can be used to impress during face-to-face interviews. During a phone interview, this is one less thing to have to worry about, but remember that the only tool you have to express yourself is your tone of voice and what you say.

Maintain professionalism while portraying your manner as pleasant, upbeat and enthusiastic, just as you would in front of your class. To help you do this, make sure to smile – it will come through in your voice.


10. Update your LinkedIn profile.

If you’re a LinkedIn user, make sure your profile is up to date and matching the info on your resume (and if you’re not a LinkedIn user, here’s how and why teachers should be on LinkedIn). This is likely the first place interviewers will seek information on the web from outside of the Teach Away site.

Having a complete LinkedIn profile with projects and recommendations can be a powerful tool during your interview. If the interviewer has web access, you can guide them straight to your projects and references on LinkedIn as part of your answer.

11. Listen.

Like in in-person interviews, it’s important to not only provide good information, but also to be a sponge – absorb all you can because this information could be vital later in the interview or in future aspects of the hiring process. Without the advantage of being in the same physical space as your interviewer, and with the potential to be distracted, active listening during phone interviews takes a little extra focus

Need more info on how to ace your interview? Check out our teach abroad FAQs for everything you need to know about the application and interview process for teaching abroad! When you’re done, don’t forget to check out our teach abroad interview tips and tricks, including some great dos and don’ts!

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