As you know, my interview did not go well. But that does not mean that you have to suffer the same fate. Getting hired at VIPKID is all about preparation. If you received an invitation to schedule an interview, then you know you have what it takes (on paper) to be hired by the company. So, what makes some interviews go well and some fail?
In my humble opinion, it is all about spending the time needed to make sure your interview is successful. This is not your typical interview. There is no suit required, no desk between you and the interviewer, and no scripted questions. Ok, there are some scripted questions. But they are short and to the point. When I interviewed with VIPKID, there were some very basic questions.
Did I have a Bachelor’s Degree? Did I have teaching experience? Did I have a teaching certificate? Did I have ESL experience?
For the record, I have dual degrees in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, with a certification in Gifted Education. Guess how much they cared? They really didn’t. I had a Bachelor’s and had teaching experience. My certificated lapsed over ten years ago and I never taught ESL (or online for that matter).
As I mentioned in my last post, VIPKID is changing their interview process all the time. I won’t claim to have the details on what that entails. Perhaps some that say they know (other videos and blogs) or perhaps they do not. My suggestion is to always use VIPKID as the foremost authority on guidelines for interviewing. All other teachers are there to help you out and cheer you on.
Before I get started, I want to point out that I realize how much information is in this post. I won’t lie that I was annoyed with how much was “expected” of me as I was getting ready to interview for what was advertised as a part-time job. I was like, “What if I spend all this time and money and don’t get hired?”
Because of this, I think it would have been helpful for me to have some background to help me answer that question…and to be better prepared. That is my goal in writing to you today. With that said, here are my tips.
Know your Audience:
VIPKID will let you know the details of the interview. It generally includes the teaching of a short lesson (5 minutes or so) to your interviewer. Yes, you will be teaching a full grown adult that is acting like a child who has little to know English ability. This is important and I will touch more on it a little later.
Have the Hardware:
It is imperative that you have a computer, webcam, headphones, mic, and internet that can handle the VIPKID platform. I tried my Chromebook and an old iMac unsuccessfully before having to borrow my boyfriend’s new laptop. Some computers and cameras just are not up to snuff (or internet connections for that matter).
You have to have a clear connection. No pixels, no drops, no stuttering, etc. Clear video and sound.
Get a headset with a microphone. They really are not that much and make life a lot easier during the interview and mock classes. Earbuds with a built in mic to not cut it. They are awkward and the mics do not work as well.
Now, I’m not saying to purchase these items in advance of having a job, but if your equipment doesn’t make the cut, know that you will need to upgrade before starting classes. For the sake of the interview and mock classes, however, you can always borrow a computer and even space for that matter. Just make sure everything works.
Review the lesson in detail. I strongly suggest that you know it so well that you can do it without really looking at the screen. You can do this by going over it out loud on your own, teaching it to your children, and – this one I strongly suggest – teaching it to an adult acting like a child. Be so comfortable acting that you no longer feel awkward. If you are good with this without practice, kudos to you!
The lessons are similar to an online conference session. There will be two video boxes, one with you and one with your students. To the left, there will be a powerpoint presentation that you control. I mention the video boxes because you will be looking at yourself (unlike many video chats) in the same dimensions that you are looking at your student. I found this distracting and awkward, personally, as I was not accustomed to seeing myself on video, especially in real time.
Practice talking to yourself or teaching yourself in the camera. You can just open your webcam for this exercise. Get used to seeing yourself looking back at you.
Understand the Lesson:
By understanding it, I mean understand the flow of the lesson. Each slide has teacher directions on the bottom or top. You should know these without having to spend time reading them. If you were in front of a class of kindergartners, you would not be using notes. This is the same idea. You want to make eye contact with your students, be animated, and use props (more on this later). This is hard to do if you are squinting at the power-point looking for guidance. Practice does make perfect.
TPR stands for Total Physical Response. This is kind of hard to describe in writing, but think of over-animating your points and words using your body. You can learn more about this in the video version of this blog.
Have a Background:
If you look at my video post, you will see that I have a background. Your online classroom should be a clear space (empty wall) that is decorated as a classroom. Your background should not be your living room, bedroom, or any other open space. This is distracting and kind of unprofessional. Here is a picture of my Christmas background.
Your background does not have to be elaborate, especially for your interview, but you should have something. Write “Welcome” in construction paper letters, scatter smiley faces around, or some other seasonal item. Make it big and something that can be seen clearly through the camera (I made this mistake).
Again, you don’t have to spend money on it for your interview. Just make it eye-catching.
There is a lot of information out there about props and the use of props. Again, don’t spend money buying a bunch of stuff for your interview. Find things around the house that go with the lesson (an apple for the letter A, a sock for the letter S, and so on). Just use things that you can hold up for the student to look at while your are teaching. It breaks the talking head boredom.
I also use a whiteboard (or colorful sign) with my name on it. Introductions are important and a part of every class at VIPKID (including the interview). You want to say and show your name.
Other props you can use during your interview are flashcards (they can be homemade for the lesson’s letters) and stuffed animals or puppets. More on this in the video.
Most importantly, have fun with it. If you take the time, prior to your interview, to prepare, you will be more relaxed and able to enjoy the ride. There is nothing more promising than a happy, excited teacher who is having fun teaching!
If you have specific questions about VIPKID, please feel free to email me through the contact form on this site.
If you are interested in becoming a teaching with VIPKID, you can apply here.
The content of this blog is the opinion and experience of the blogger and is not endorsed by VIPKID or any of its subsidiaries.