Infections & Interviews: Finding Employment During An Epidemic


With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, employers and workers are rushing to find new solutions to help curb the spread of the contagion, without impacting their day-to-day business.

Previously, especially when it came to high-level positions, recruiters almost always conducted a final in-person interview as the last stage of the hiring process. But, because of the advisories in favour of social distancing, public health and safety is taking a precedent over tradition.

If you’re in the market for a new job, then expect changes to come in how your recruiter works with you. The biggest change is likely to be final interviews being conducted by video conference online, an alternative that we’re already seeing in place around the world!

Let’s take a closer look at how video interviews will affect your job search.

What Changes To Expect

Because of the change in process, employers are likely to need additional time to review each applicant. Part of this is going to be due to the need to strategize how this new interview format will work. It may also stem from the fact that many businesses are slowing down due to the containment procedures and the communities they affect. It is a cost-saving alternative as well.

In addition, you might not be the only person who’ll be remote for the interview. If several parties from your potential employer need to be present, and their schedules have been affected by the developments, then expect scheduling everyone to be more difficult, or at least to have everyone review your resume before agreeing to the next step.

The main thing is to not get disheartened if your hiring process is extended. Keep up your gusto and maintain contact with your recruiter whenever appropriate, to get a feel for how things are moving along.

Know Your Audience

Just like when things are normal, you’ll want to take time to research the company and specific individuals who you’ll be interviewing with. Get a grip on company culture, and the interests or professional standings of your interviewers.

Video interviews have a tendency to take less time and contain less small-talk than in-person meetings. This means you have a smaller window of opportunity during which to connect with the person(s) you’re speaking with. Being prepared to make the most of it is key.

Be ready to discuss their accomplishments with as much ease as you can discuss your own. This not only helps you bond, but shows you are actually interested in the business.

Setting Up Your Space

Unlike an in-person interview, where you typically just need to dress yourself up, with a video call you’ll need to give attention to your surroundings as well.

Just like when we see someone new for the first time, we make quick judgements about who they are. We do the same when seeing someone’s home (or office) as well. And just like you wouldn’t want to give the impression that you’re dirty or unorganized by the way you dress and your personal hygiene, so too should you keep your setting clean and proper.

First thing is your line of sight. Make sure you are centre-framed, and try to keep the camera at eye level so it feels natural. Also be sure the video you are watching is in the same direction as the camera, so you don’t seem like you’re staring off into space. As a bonus tip, if you wear glasses, check that they aren’t reflecting in a way that obscures your eyes.

It’s best not to clutter the screen, so aim for a neat, neutral backdrop that is well lit and inviting. If you feel your home isn’t a good option, try a library or shared workspace. Avoid public places like coffeeshops or the outdoors. While they can look nice, the ambient noises and distractions will work against you.

Speaking of distractions, be sure to silence electronic devices and avoid having anything around that will remove your focus from the task at hand. That said, it is ok to have notes on hand, but keep them off screen and be sure to only use them for reference. Your recruiter can still tell if you are unprepared.

And speaking of being unprepared, be sure to set up any programs or logins you need to well in advance. Just like you should be a bit early to an in-person interview, make sure you are giving yourself the time you need to get settled in. Run through some things you would like to say, to get used to the setup and rehearse your material.

What To Say

Even if the remote interview was their idea, you want to reinforce in the recruiter’s mind that you DO, in fact, want to be there with them. Express your thanks for the opportunity, especially under the circumstances, and let them know how excited you would be to join their team.

As you talk with them, be sure that you observe an important rule of online etiquette, which is leaving an extra second between responses. This is to help prevent you from speaking over someone who is experiencing lag, and who may not have been finished with what they had to say even though the line went silent.

Show that you have the wherewithal to understand the changing circumstances when you are given the chance to ask your questions to the recruiter. Inquire about whether the position will be remote during the outbreak, the way the interview is. You can also ask about the hiring timeline and express your understanding if they need additional time due to unforeseen circumstances.


All-in-all, video interviews don’t reduce your chance at getting a job. Remember that most if not all candidates will have to go through the same thing. The important things are to know what to expect, and how to navigate the minor differences so that you can play on a level playing field.