Interviewing Virtually

Video interviews are now the rule, not the exception. With many companies still moving forward with hiring decisions, phone and video interviews have become their main solution.  Even before COVID, many organizations were implementing pre-interview assessments which ranged from sample work/skills tests to personality assessments. Given how involved and lengthy job applications can be, once you finally score an interview, it is deserving of a mini celebration! So, what types of virtual interviews can you expect?

Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are still taking place and are often used as the first screening tool of a candidate. Usually during a phone call, you are speaking with a representative from Human Resources and this is their initial screen of selected candidates during the first round of evaluation.  

Prerecorded/One-Way Interview
Interview questions are presented via a secure link and the candidate has anywhere from five seconds to one minute to prepare and record their response. Often these are videos of your responses. Sometimes applicants are able to review before they submit, but not always.

Two-Way Live Video Interview

This format is more akin to an in-person interview but just online. Candidates are often speaking with the hiring recruiter/manager/committee via Skype or Zoom either in a panel format or in multiple one-on-one sessions.


As with an in-person interview, the key to success often falls to the preparation. You should take the time to do external research on who you’ll be meeting and the company/department itself. Also focus on internal preparation – know your resume, key skills, and have a very solid answer to the “Tell me about yourself” question. This introductory “pitch” is now your virtual handshake and should be strong and confident.

Virtual communication though requires special considerations and adjustments. It is not going to be as easy to build a rapport with your interviewers due to your limited ability to read body language and facial expressions (especially if it is phone or they don’t share their video).

With all of this in mind, here are a few key considerations for virtual interviews:

Test your technology beforehand
Make sure to familiarize yourself with the platform that will be used for the interview. Test your internet speed and see how your audio works with headphones or through a test call.

Find a quiet place for interview day
This might be one of the biggest challenges with interviewing during quarantine especially if you have kids, pets, or even loud neighbors and construction nearby. Do you best to find a space where your distractions will be minimized. And while you are testing your technology, see if you can mute your computer notifications for a period of time.

Use professional and personable body language
In interviews before COVID, they usually started (at least in North America) with a handshake and a greeting. It was an important cue that often signaled the start and end of a discussion and helped establish the relationship. Now, it will be important to find other pleasant yet professional ways to greet and exude enthusiasm. This can be as simple as smiling and giving a confident wave with eye contact.   

Eye Contact
If you want to make sure the person knows you are looking at them, you might actually want to look in the camera and not at your computer screen. Depending on your computer/camera configuration, you might need to adjust so that “eye contact” feels more natural.

Dress Professionally – Top and Bottom
Err on the safe side and dress professionally not only on top but on bottom as well. Most of us have seen the video of the reporter who went on air without pants on. If for some reason you need to get up and close the door or move your camera, remember what could be in the shot.

As with any interview, you will want to present the most polished and professional version of yourself while being authentic and genuine. Remember though, that all of the old interview “rules” still apply.  Sometimes in an online setting, while interviewing from home, people are lulled into a false sense of comfort or casualness. Don’t be late to your meeting, don’t speak negatively about your current employer/boss, be prepared to articulate the value you could add, and always follow up with a thank you.


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