Skype Your Way to an International Teaching Position

Skype is quickly becoming a popular recruiting venue for international teaching candidates. And rightly so! Last recruiting season, schools and teachers reported successfully filling many positions relying on Skype internet interviews. Here’s what candidates and recruiters had to say last recruiting season:

“We have been using the telephone versions of Skype for some years now to interview our supply teachers. We are slowly moving to Video Skype as more teachers have access to faster internet connections and web cams.”

“I only did Skype interviews this year. Got a great job at an excellent school! Personal interviews are a crapshoot at best. What an administrator can learn about an applicant at a 25-minute job fair interview I can only guess. I will never again spend three thousand dollars to fly halfway ’round the world for a 40k a year job.”

“I got my current job via Skype and the new one for next year involved a phone interview. I just don’t see spending money to fly to a fair, pay a high premium and taking days off from my students.”

“I’ve had successful Skype interviews that I felt gave both parties a good sense of the other. I can see that many schools feel the job fairs provide a valuable source of quality teachers, but I DO question the motivation of some schools that seem to go on an endless world tour of job fairs to hire someone.”

We’re certain that this year many more schools and candidates are relying on Skype. Have you had experience with Skype interviews this recruiting season? Did you find a teaching position through Skype? What do you predict the future holds for international teachers recruiting using the Skype medium? Maybe you have questions and/or advice about using Skype for recruiting. Here’s the place to share information and ask questions.

30 Responses to Skype Your Way to an International Teaching Position

  1. Anonymous says:

    Both good and bad experiences on Skype, though I have decided not to go to fairs anymore.
    One school missed three Skype times we scheduled. i was getting up at 5 am, dressed in a suit, then no call. It did not make a good impression.
    Another school, a friend was in the room and confirmed that the guy interviewing me was a bit off.
    The school I am working at- a Skype interview, then another with the students. I loved that part.
    It has been very helpful and useful.
    My old boss has spent too many years missing Valentine’s Day with his family because he is always at a hiring fair. Maybe someday he won’t have to go.


  2. Biologymann says:

    Interestingly, I Skyped my way back home. I have had three overseas teaching posts. The first was a traditional interview in a London hotel. The second was a phone call from from the Principal asking me if I had any questions! The decision was made on the strength of my CV and phoning my referees. The third was a Skype interview. Obviously, the case where I got the job, the interview went fine. I have had other Skype interviews. One for a job in Spain where the internet connection was very poor and I could only hear 50% of what was being said.
    What can be a problem, is obtaining work in one’s home country, where Skype interviews are not the norm. I was offered a temporary post on the strength of a Skype interview. The Rector was cautious about offering me a position on a permanent contract. I took the initiative and suggested spending two days in the school (I finished a week before UK schools) and this was a success and I was subsequently offered a permanent contract. While a little stressful after a long journey to Scotland, it was worthwhile from my point of view in that I could meet my future potential colleagues and experience the nature of the students I would be teaching if successful.
    Wherever possible, a secondary interview on the school site is invaluable in determining whether the post is a wise move.


  3. Over_There says:

    Skype is OK for interviews if you have a good connection but not if you are sitting in a country with slow internet that often cuts out. This results in impatience and frustration and it is hard to present a positive image. I have hired teachers based on Skype interviews but it is still a hit and miss situation. One couple turned out to be nothing like the friendly ‘face” they had presented on Skype. Some candidates actually don’t know how to turn on their cameras or present their monitor to the best effect. If you have a Skype interview, get the background right and rehearse beforehand.


    • fnarkv says:

      To elaborate on Over There’s last point: I have conducted a number of Skype interviews over the last few years, as both recruiter and a candidate. Put as much lighting as you can manage in front of you, behind the camera, and make sure the background is pleasing and not distracting. I’ve had conversations with dark silhouettes in front of blinding windows and with people in bedrooms with underwear strewn over their unmade beds. These don’t tell me too much about why or why not I should reach an understanding with the other, but they certainly distract from the conversation.


  4. Pak Liam says:

    Lots of positive comments regarding skype, however, do not forget that skype is not always a solution, several countries do not have decent internet connections. I believe some Arab countries are periodically blocking skype for various reasons. (probably related to the Arab Spring)


  5. Leonard says:

    As a director with a school with a limited budget and limited vacancies, I cannot justify the cost and time lost in attending the job fairs. I begin early posting vacancies and start Skyping. It allows me to spread out my interviews and conduct follow up interviews when necessary. As the technology gets better, there will be no need to attend fairs. I am pretty sure that directors insist on the job fair circuit as a way to escape and live on the school’s dime while having cocktail socials and luncheons. I am headed to a new school, but I will continue Skyping to find new hires.


    • Anonymous says:

      Where are you going Leonard? It’s nice to read something from a fair-minded “down-to-earth” director who tells it like it is.

      I’ve attended three job fairs in the last two years. I had one job offer the night before the first fair which I turned down, because I was interested in interviewing with several other schools I had “earmarked” beforehand. Once the fair began, I came to find out that ALL the jobs I had gone up to Boston for (I flew in from Mexico) were gone even before I got to the “tables”. There was another fair the week before in the same city! Went to a second fair a week later (in another city), and didn’t even get a bite. I ultimately obtained the post where I am now through the Search Associates and international tel calls (them to me).
      After two years at this post I’ve decided to go again to another (the third) fair— ridiculous expense and waste of time.
      I’ve had two requests for skype interviews within the last four
      days. Yesterday’s interview was great—lasted over an hour— they never last that long at the fairs , They will make an offer and send a contract. But I’m not deciding til after I have tomorrow’s interview and maybe not then either.
      I feel less pressured the skype way. It’s almost (but not quite)


    • Anonymous says:

      “I am pretty sure that directors insist on the job fair circuit as a way to escape and live on the school’s dime while having cocktail socials and luncheons.”

      I am pretty sure that you’re talking nonsense. Why would you think anyone enjoys flying these days – especially domestic airlines in the States? Why would you think people enjoy being in hotels rather than with their families? I resent the time I spend away recruiting teachers, but I do it because it’s the most important thing I do.


  6. HM says:

    My spouse and I are multiple certified advanced degreed teachers with over ten years of international experience including IB. We decided not to participate in a recruitment fair. (BTW, our first 3 posts were two years each on three continents.) Our CVs look good, we have a web page and our references are outstanding (including positive phone calls from past directors). We contacted schools early with applications both hard copy and e-mail. We posted our resumes on TIE online.We have had e-mail conversations and Skype interviews (that we thought went well). The schools that we were interested in (and accepted an interview with) all asked if we would attend a fair (we offered to fly to the coast to meet). Our conversations ended.
    Good thing we like where we are.


  7. Anonymous coward says:

    First, it was the chicken. Next, you have been at three schools in six years. That labels you as a “two and out” couple which may color some recruiters image of you this time around (although being a couple does mitigate that some). Next, what are you both teaching? High demand subjects? Glutted market subjects? One of each? Is there anything about either of you that places you ahead of the pack? Advanced degrees or specializations, abilities? You must ask yourselves if there is something about your candidacy that would cause an admin to see your application, turn to his computer and request a Skype session (instead of a “meet ya at the fair!”), all the better to get to you before another recruiter does. If yes, exploit it. If not, get it.

    If you get a “meet ya at the fair” letter, answer it with a polite note saying you shall not be in attendance but you are available via Skype, etc. Or work to prearrange an interview. If you hear nothing back then they probably would not hire you anyway. Or, see them at the fair and find out for real.

    Remember that The Market dictates everything. And also remember that a lot (but not all) of the higher-end schools attend fairs as a matter of course because they can afford to send recruiters and the recruiters want to go, AND people will go to the fair to see them. If that’s who you’re targeting then you need something special for them to want to talk to you. Think about a fair. They sit at a table, you come to them and ask them for some of their time. BUT, If you have the special something I mentioned before, you sit and they come digitally to you and ask if they can have some of your time. Do you have something special, more special than 300 other people who are all brilliant, student-centered, conscientious, experienced, flexible, photogenic, etc., etc.

    One thing to do is to decide early on whether you will or will not attend a fair(s). If not, make is crystal clear in your materials and stick with it. If you have enough to bring to the metaphorical table (and you have a bit of luck) then you won’t need to go.


  8. Anonymous says:

    What came first the chicken or the egg? My husband and I have been teaching internationally for 6 years now (and three schools) and so far VERY few schools have contacted us for Skype interviews. Most say ‘meet ya at the fair’! I’m wondering, the teacher whose school contacted him for a Skype interview via the Search website, what discipline are you in? Science? We have signed up for a fair, but are dreading it, haven’t bought the ticket or hotel spot as of yet. Was really wishing to not have to go. Do you think you have a better chance of getting a decent school at a fair or can it be done via Skype interviews only? Still wondering!!!


    • Trav45 says:

      Nope, I’m a librarian. And I’ve gotta say, I agree with the poster below. If you’ve only been overseas 6 years, and you already have 3 schools, that sends a certain message. I’ve been overseas 13 years, with four schools (one I left after a year), and I still had a director ask me why I move around so much!


  9. Anonymous says:

    Where do you find these schools that hire via skype in lieu of the face-to-face interview at fairs? I’ve applied for a number of positions and continually get the standard response that recruiters will interview shortlisted candidates at the fair. Thus, I have indicated that I would be going to the fair so I can keep my applications viable. Do the skype interviews tend to happen later in the recruiting season once the fair options are mostly over?


    • mlesurf says:

      Skype interviews happen when the school decides they want to see you before everyone at the fair is fighting over a few good candidates. You need to be one of the few good candidates for them.

      I did not attend a fair this year had a few Skype interviews and am looking forward to a great job at a great school that hired me through a Skype interview.


  10. Wiseteach says:

    Very helpful comments. Thanks. I practiced with my son this afternoon. I appreciate all the guidance. Here’s a question though… if the interview goes well, and they offer a position.. is there a good way to tell them I would like to wait to make a decision until after the fair (which I’ve already paid for along with travel expenses)/? Would appreciate any guidance.


    • mlesurf says:

      WHY? If it is the school you want in the place you want take the contract. Then go to the fair and have fun in the city. Let the organisers know you are hired but you could still meet some directors, sit on on some school presentations and learn for the future.


  11. Anonymous coward says:

    Excellent points about Skype. Many of the Skype Gripes that exist are not really about Skype itself, but about how things look, sound and how you come across. Having a Skype interview does not give you the license to smugly kick back in your boxers with a cold one and shoot the breeze with Mr. Headmaster. You are still a professional, you are still, in a manner of speaking, going to an interview, and you still need to bring your “A game”. Consider appearance, consider lighting (get away from the window, have a soft lamp to the side, behind the screen, to illuminate your face, but not too much) and the state of the room, isolate yourself, have your pen and pad. Get your Skype right. Don’t let recruiters’ poor opinion of candidates’ Skype techniques serve as their excuse to perpetuate face-to-face fairs. Turn on your web-cam and experiment with what works and what does not.


  12. pedXing says:

    If you are going to do any interviewing by Skype, please allow me to make a few suggestions for things to think about ahead of time…

    1. Lighting: Make sure you set up your computer in a well-lit place with no lights (or uncovered windows, if it is daytime and at all bright) behind you. Your faces are the important thing to light. Also remember if it is very bright *behind the computer* you may not be able to see the image (or may be squinting all the time — very attractive).
    2. Background: A nice bookcase behind you is fine, but make sure the background is not too busy, messy, and that it contains nothing embarrassing like hanging laundry, bad literature, etc.
    3. Try to set up where there will be no one passing behind you. I’m thinking of my kids. 🙂
    4. Try not to wear something that is too intricately patterned. My experience in television makes me believe that the camera will have to work harder to resolve patterns and this may affect the quality of the entire enterprise. Not sure if this is actually technically correct, though.
    5. Make sure you have the phone number of the person on the other end in case the Skype connection is lost completely. Nothing worse than an interview left half-completed.
    6. Don’t do that trick where you freeze and the other person thinks the connection is lost and says, “Hello, can you see me? Can you see me? You there? You there?” and then you unfreeze and laugh your head off.
    7. Check your hair ahead of time, and you might want to check your teeth, too, depending on the resolution of your camera.

    Hope these help.



  13. WiseTeach says:

    Very interesting thread. I am a “newbie” at this, first time around applying for int. teaching positions. I’ve paid my money and am heading to a fair, but I sure would prefer to have that cash in pocket instead. Skype makes so much sense. I do have an interview via this mode next week… a bit nervous as it will be 2 weeks before the fair that I’ve committed to. Still in all… in the future if I can avoid the fair thing, stress, uncertainty, and COST then I will.


  14. Anonymous coward says:

    I flat out said “No!” to attending a fair this year. I simply can’t afford it in any sense. Period. The tally would push past $3500 (no, seriously, think about flight, hotel, taxis and transport, food, incidentals – it all adds up) for the whole deal, plus five solid days away from school at the start of the semester, plus the prolonged level of stress, which I can’t put a price on. That’s just not something I can accommodate, just to satisfy the curiosity of schools that may or may not have a position open on the day we meet, or may wish to wait for a month or two before making offers, or may not actually want to interview me when I get to the table, or whatever. Personally, the prospect approximates the economic concept of diminishing returns. I make it clear in my application materials that I am using only Skype. There are some schools out there that are “committed to face-to-face meetings with candidates”. I don’t bother with them because I am committed to not going to fairs, and I question the motives behind their attitude.


  15. Sınead says:

    Not really having the money to spend on job faırs and all of the expenses assocıated wıth them, my ıntervıew wıth my current school was on Skype. Thıs was a wın wın sıtuatıon for both partıes. Schools have expense problems as well. Thank goodness for Skype.


  16. expatteacher says:

    I completely agree that Skype saves money – we have also gotten the last two positions we’ve held via Skype. However, it does take some extra skills/patience/sensitivity from the administrator doing the interview, in terms of really being able to make people feel comfortable and natural and I don’t think everyone is quite there yet. For example, we’ve recently had some skype interviews and while a couple have been really good, a couple have not, due to the fact that Skype conversations are just kind of awkward by nature, and when you’re nervous it just adds to the unnatural feeling of the dialogue. Conversation can’t flow like they would if you were in person, due to the delay/possibility of cutting one another off constantly. The interviews we had which went really well involved directors/principals who knew how to help us be ourselves in spite of the awkward pauses, and inability to clearly see facial expressions, etc. And I would hope that a good administrator would want to take that care and make sure the interview truly reflects the candidates’ personalities accurately (since that’s a big part of hiring an employee – are they normal?) – there will always be nerves, but awkward silences make it much worse!


  17. Anonymous says:

    I had a number of Skype interviews this recruiting season because I wanted to avoid the job fairs (b/c of cost and loss of teaching time). However I did end up going an frankly I ended up with a much better job as a result. Going to the fair allowed me to assess my market value a lot better.


  18. Ian says:

    As a seasoned administrator, I never attend job fairs. My schools use Skype to interview possible candidates and it has been extremely successful. The time and money spent to attend job fairs – both as an administrator or a teacher is just not worth it.


  19. labteacher says:

    I have always felt that Skype was MADE for teacher interviews. Matter of fact, not using Skype or another VOIP in the hiring process may say a lot about the level of technology the school makes available in the classroom and on campus.

    In addition to giving a good A/V representation of both parties, using VOIP shows respect for the busy candidate who no longer has to attend a job fair. Actually, with such cost-effective options like VOIP, I think that if a school only hires teachers through job fair then they should reimburse that teacher for the cost of attending the fair. Why not? Search firms get paid for ‘finding’ you, why shouldn’t you get paid for having to physically ‘be there’?


  20. Trav45 says:

    While I registered for the Bangkok fair this year, I was really, really hoping I wouldn’t have to go. Fortunately, I was hired early in November by one of the top schools on the international circuit, and I didn’t even apply to them. More and more administrators are doing this, as they lock positions down early.

    Moreover, I don’t think it worries Search or ISS at all. I still paid them my $200, and used their site to go in and look at the background info on the school. Because the school found me through them, had access to all my files through them, etc. the school still has to pay them the usual finding fee.

    The only people out money on this one are the hotels and airlines, as fewer people need to get to the job fairs.


    • SSB says:

      Can I ask how you were able to land that job without applying to them or going through an agency?! I’m looking for an international teaching job to commence this Autumn and am looking for any advice that I can get!


  21. CJC says:

    I got my last post via a SKYPE interview and it was an excellent job with good pay. It was not at an international school but at a local Egyptian school. I don’t think I would have interviewed with this school if I had been at a job fair and I would have missed out on the wonderful experience of working in a 100% Egyptian school where staff and students were mostly from that host country. I was really happy the two years my husband and I were in Egypt but after the revolution, we decided that we had had enough of that area for now.

    This year I am going to a job fair. It will be my second job fair since I started teaching overseas. The first experience was very positive and I got my number one choice of jobs. This time I hope for similar results.

    I do agree that attending the job fair is really expensive. Seeing your peers and many directors and administators is invigorating but probably not really necessary. Between the hotel, plane tickets, fair fee and incidentals it runs well over $1500. I also do not like having to be out of the classroom. I managed to squeeze a visit in to my Mom’s which is making it worthwhile for me but I prefer the SKYPE interviews over the intensity of the fair.

    I will go, hopefully leave with a contract, and enjoy myself to my best ability but there is no doubt about it, the job fair is chaotic.


  22. Zorro the Avenging Martyr says:

    Eureka! I posted something on this in the “Recruiting Fairs A-Z” blog a couple of weeks back. From a teacher’s perspective, Skype just has to be the way of the future and increasingly the present. School boards should be encouraging their administrators to get hip to these highly technological times and save the tens of thousands of dollars that the schools are blowing every year to send principals and directors on these worldwide tours.

    Thousands for airfare and a table at the fair, hundreds every night for a room at the expensive hotels where these cattle calls are conducted; seems to me that this money would be more wisely invested in school facilities or professional development for teachers etc. Questioning the motivation of the only people involved in these circuses to not be traveling on their own nickle is putting it mildly… I imagine that Search Associates and ISS are probably worried about video calls putting them out of business, but I think they still have a part to play in the international school realm. Compiling/checking references, providing a mutual grazing ground for the cattle and the ranchers, and refusing membership to people who have flaked out on other international schools would still be necessary functions in an evolutionarily streamlined hiring process.

    From a teacher’s point of view, spending ten percent of your yearly salary to line up with a million other poor souls to peddle your wares in a buyer’s market is a depressingly degrading endeavor. This sort of thing is just begging to be banished to the waste bin of history alongside selling encyclopedias door-to-door and servicing VCRs…


    • Sally says:

      I just went to my first job fair in Boston where I’d planned to meet the head of a top school. He very politely cancelled on me after hiring everyone he needed in Bangkok and London. By then, I’d bought my ticket so I went anyway to satisfy my curiosity.
      I came to the conclusion that 1) unless you’re hungry to travel and don’t care where you work, a job fair is likely a waste of time 2) the big portfolio is of little interest to the top schools (I have both a portfolio and a website — they looked at the resume and the website, read my references and were knew all they needed to know).
      My suggestion is to register with a recruiting agency but don’t bother with a job fair. Particularly one that happens as late as the one I just attended. Approach the schools in the fall, make an interesting and informative website, practice Skyping and pay attention to the jobs that are popping up. Another thing that helped me tremendously was to find a way around the HR/screening people. I worried that I’d offend the headmaster but of the 1/2 dozen school headmaster/principals I emailed, all were responsive. Just make sure you write a very specific letter and that you genuinely want that school. It will come across in your letter.


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