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Joanna Samuels, M.Ed., CMF, CTDP, RRP

How to handle the video / online interview

Dear Joanna

I’m scheduled for a live online interview on Skype with an overseas hi-tech company for the position of Project Manager for their Toronto office. Do you have any suggestions on how to tailor my interview presentation for this challenging format?

Signed: Camera shy

Dear Camera

Welcome to the global labour market! There are tons of ways of interviewing these days. Companies use Skype, Google Hangout, Zoom, Blue Jeans and plenty of other video-conferencing tools online. Some use software screening tools that do both live interviews, and are internal applicant tracking systems (ATSs) with candidate tracking/screening tools such as,, to name a few.

I’ve consulted with expert and champion of recruitment, and diversity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond, Anita Sampson-Binder, Vice President of Recruitment Strategy and Delivery at Sampson-Binder uses online interviewing tools quite a bit, especially with millenniums. She recommends the following techniques so that you can make the best impression in the interview:

1. Clean up your online digital print. Make sure all your Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter profiles, including your Skype account and privacy settings, are professional. Remove all the “digital dirt” and if you don’t have this in place already, create a professional email and ID name.. If you need to, create a new facebook page for the job search as well as for future professional activities. Don’t post what you wouldn’t want to appear in a newspaper. Once the information is out there in cyberspace, it’s forever.

2. Be aware of your non-verbal/body language. Just as you would with any interview format, be yourself and be professional. You have been called for an interview because of your qualifications and talents. Make sure the webcam or camera on your computer is placed correctly above the eye-line slightly downward facing the interviewer. Test this out with a friend or family member before the interview. Adjust it (or get help) when you connect with the employer. You can explain this to the interviewer at the beginning. Smile and present enthusiasm for the position with a professional and confident energy.

3. Cultural differences. Since the interviewer is in another country, it is a good idea to research the company, workplace culture and communication norms in advance. You want to be as inclusive as possible. For example, in some cultures, direct eye contact between male and female is disrespectful. This might not be an issue in your case, but check it out with other employees on Linkedin from your hometown who have gone through a similar interview experience.

4. Technical check-in. Make sure all of the audio-visual and computer equipment are working in advance. Select a quiet, clean and well-lit office type environment where you will conduct the interview without any distractions or noises in the background. Silence your phones. A headset can be helpful so you can have more control with your body and hands and to keep out unwanted noises.

5. Present yourself professionally. Just as you would in a face-to-face interview, be clean and neat, dress well, and act professionally. If you want to be sure of what to wear, again, ask other employees at this company via social media or pick up the phone for an informational interview. Fashion photographers recommend avoiding wearing pure black on camera.

6. Prepare and practice. This is key so that you are ready for the behavioural or situational questions. Rehearse with a friend, family, partner, and/or an employment specialist at a local employment program. Attend interview skills workshops prior to the interview and be ready to meet your next boss with your scripts and presentation. Use online tools to rehearse and practice interview questions.

Good luck with the online interview.


to submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email [email protected].

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About Joanna Samuels

Joanna Samuels
Joanna Samuels, M.Ed., CMF, CTDP, RRP is the Employment Resource Specialist at Her expertise is in job development, job coaching, and workshop facilitation with people with disabilities and multi-barriers as well as staff training. Also, Joanna helps employers with diversity recruitment and selection, is a published author and columnist, as well as a certified Life Skills Coach, and certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator.

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