Video Job Interviews - The new era of interviewing during COVID-19?

job seeker at computer

Have you been thinking about how employers will be conducting interviews during this pandemic? The reality is that some employers are continuing to interview candidates in person by following the physical distancing measures the Government of Canada has put in place but interviewing a candidate from 2 meters away while wearing a mask can be awkward for some.  A lot of employers are turning to video job interviews.  Video job interviewing is not a new form of interviewing —many employers have been using this approach for quite some time, especially with candidates who live in another city or country.  Due to COVID-19, video interviews are being utilized more frequently.

What is a video job interview and how are they conducted?

Video job interviews are very similar to in-person interviews.  The advantage is that you can conduct a video job interview from the comfort of your home without any travel costs or worrying about whether the bus route you are taking will get there on time. 

The only items you would need include a computer, a laptop or a device that has a webcam, and audio/voice capability.  There are two types of video interviews.  The interviewer may choose to conduct a live job interview or a pre-recorded video.

A live interview is like an in-person interview.  You may need to download and login to the video platform the interviewer has provided to you.  You may have one interviewer or a panel interview with two or more interviewers on your screen.  Conducting live interviews can be a little awkward and you might find it challenging when you are trying to build rapport with the interviewer through your webcam so it may take some time to get comfortable with this format.

Pre-recorded interviews occur when the interviewer has provided a link or login details for the video interview.  The interview questions are posted on your screen and you will be given a time-limit to read the question and then provide a verbal or written answer.  Once your video has been recorded, it is submitted to the interviewer for review. 

Some graduate and professional schools have not been able to conduct in-person interviews due to COVID-19, therefore they have been conducting the interviews using the pre-recorded format as part of the admission process.

The pre-recorded interviews can feel “unnatural” because you are looking at a blank screen at times and talking to your webcam and not to a human being. Therefore, it would be a good idea to practice using your webcam and get comfortable with this interview style because it may become common practice in the future.

Your next interview could be a video interview, and the following are some tips to get you prepared.

Video Job Interview Tips

Is your technology working?

The first step is to download the app or the video platform you will be using for the interview. Try using the platform with a friend to ensure it is working on your device or computer.  You can use various platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Test your webcam and ensure that your audio functions are working because the employer would like to see you and hear you clearly. If the audio on your computer does not sound clear, you can use your headphones if the sound quality is better.

Also, make sure that your battery is fully charged, and you are in a location where the Wi-Fi connection is the strongest.  Have your ethernet cord handy if you do not have reliable Wi-Fi.

What if you lose it?

What to do if you lose your internet connection or the video platform stops working? 

If the interviewer has not already addressed it in the communication leading up to the interview, take a moment near the beginning of the interview to verify what you should do if technical difficulties interrupt the interview - maybe you can continue the interview over the phone or have it rescheduled.  This would be an important thing to address, especially if you have been having trouble with your internet connection or any issues with the technology.

Location, Location, Location!

  • Find a quiet room with no distractions or interruptions. Make sure to turn off your favorite tv show in the background.
  • If you are living with others, ensure that they are aware that you have a video interview because you do not want your pet or roommate to make an awkward appearance.  Apologize if there are any unexpected interruptions or if there is any noise in the background.
  • Turn on the lights in the room and open a window to let enough light in.  You do not want to be in a dark room where the employer has difficulty seeing you.
  • Remove your pile of laundry or any items from the background that make your place look cluttered and messy.
  • Here are some do’s and don’ts for preparing for the video interview.


Be Professional

Be prepared and Ace the interviewResearch the company, assess your skills, and think about how your experience relates to the job.  Also, preparing common interview questions is a crucial step in order to be successful.  Review our tips on the Career Development and Experiential Learning website on preparing for the interview.

Don’t be late for a video interview.  You did not have to commute or find the location, so there should be no reason to be late.  It would be best to login to the video platform at least 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the interview to ensure your camera and audio components are working. This also gives you time to review how you and your surroundings appear on the camera and adjust it if you think there’s room for improvement. In the unfortunate event that you have technical difficulties when the interview is supposed to start, get in touch with the interviewer (by phone or email or whatever ever method you have) as soon as possible so you can explain and figure out another plan of action.

Turn off your cell phone.  First impressions are important and there is nothing worse than having your phone ring during your interview.

Be aware of your body language.  Remember to smile when appropriate and maintain eye contact by looking straight into the camera.  Try not to seem distracted by something in the room. Also, try not to fidget or move around, especially if you are sitting on a swivel office chair.

Practice Communicating Your Skills and Experience.  The employer will be assessing your professionalism and your ability to communicate how your skills and experiences relate the job.  Therefore, it is important to show your confidence by speaking clearly and demonstrate your knowledge by using industry jargon. It might feel challenging at first because you are probably not use to showcasing your skills and experiences through a lens.  If that is the case, practice answering questions through the video platform with a friend and schedule an appointment with a career advisor at Career Development and Experiential Learning to get advice on how to prepare and answer common interview questions.

Record yourself.  Once you have recorded yourself, pay attention to the following aspects.

  • Was your tone and voice level adequate?  Did you sound enthusiastic or monotone?
  • Body language - do you have good posture?  Did you sit up straight in your chair without slouching or fidgeting?
  • Most importantly the quality of your answers.  Ask yourself, have I communicated my skills, experiences and achievements effectively?

Dress for the occasion.  Due to the pandemic, you have probably been wearing your pajamas all day and you might not have felt the need to groom your hair.  When it comes to video job interviews, wearing interview attire will be essential. 

Not sure what to wear for your interview?  Research and learn more about the dress code at the company to get an idea of what would be appropriate.  It would be best to play it safe and wear business professional or business casual attire. It will also help put you into interview mode. Stick to solid dark or neutral colours and stay away from bright colours that will be distracting on the video. 

  • Business professional attire examples: suit (blazer and dress pants), dress shirt with a collar, tie
  • Business casual attire examples:  shirt with a collar, blouse, cardigan, cotton or khaki pants

Take Note

  • Have your resume, CV and cover letter in front of you to refer to them throughout the entire interview. If you need your documents, have them placed on a book stand to avoid looking down at your desk.  Remember, the interviewer can see you and if they notice that you keep looking down, they will think that you are cheating by looking at your notes.
  • Have a pen handy but only take notes at the end of the interview or after you have logged off because it can be distracting for the interviewer and you don’t want to keep them waiting because you are writing everything down.
  • Here are some tips on what to do after the interview.

Interview Resources

We Can Help! Visit mySuccess where you can access more of our services. There, you can:

  • Book an interview preparation appointment. We can meet with you by phone or video chat.
  • View a pre-recorded webinars on Introduction to Interviews or Advanced Interviews. Visit the Events Calendar to access the links.
  • Once you have completed an interview preparation appointment you can schedule a mock interview with a career advisor.
  • If you have any questions or need additional tips on interviews feel free to email us at


Farrah   Farrah Francis is a Career Consultant with Career Development & Experiential Learning.