Going beyond applications: the video interview

Three students sitting next to eachother in business wear.
Zahra Written by Zahra (she/her), student, and Engineering staff

What you need to know about the optional video interview

In the past couple of years, the Faculty of Engineering at Waterloo has added an optional online video interview to the application process. Although it’s optional, it’s really important that you attempt it and try your best.

Completing the interview improves the likelihood that you will be admitted. Plus the interview is required if you'd like to be considered for entrance scholarships.

The interview score is added to your admission average so even a bad interview improves your chance of being admitted. Most students lack experience with interviews and are nervous. The reviewers are trained to focus more on the content of the interview​ versus how you present yourself.

So now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to do the video interview, you’re probably wondering how you can be successful. Not to worry, I’m here to help.

What do you do, and how do you do it?

I should start by explaining the procedure — it’s fairly simple. You’ll only be asked two questions. You’ll be given time to prepare an answer, and finally, you’ll respond while your webcam and microphone record your answer.

The questions generally examine why you want to study engineering and why you are a good fit for the Waterloo program you have applied to join.

This can sound intimidating at first but realize that it’s much easier than a “real-life” interview, where you have to answer questions without much (or any) prep time. And think about it this way: if you get accepted to Engineering here, you’ll have to undergo a similar process anyway (but in real-life) because of Waterloo's co-op program.

On that note, you should know that I’ve never heard of a potential employer only asking one question during an interview, which means that this is much easier than what happens in real-life! The entire online video interview process shouldn't take more than a few minutes. And, if that’s not enough, you get unlimited practice sessions before you submit your actual response. So, enjoy all these luxuries while you can!

Student studying at a desk.

Tips from someone who’s been there

Now that you understand how it works, here are some of my top tips — as someone who’s been through (and successfully survived) the process!

  • Prepare for the interview by thinking about what you might want to say​. This can help you avoid awkward pauses and saying “um” too much.
  • Find a quiet place to record your video responses​.
  • Consider the image you wish to present. You may want to plan what to wear and are encouraged to dress professionally.
  • Try to smile and be yourself. You’ll come across as more authentic!
  • Don’t stress about it too much! This isn’t an actual job interview. The reviewers just want to see how you communicate and how you might do during co-op job interviews and work terms. 

Discover more about Waterloo Engineering by checking out these resources.


Why, why, why must you go through this?

The admissions committee is really just trying to determine whether you’d be a good fit for Engineering at Waterloo. A ‘good fit’ doesn't just mean you’re book-smart, because they can already judge that based on the grades you submit. Being a ‘good-fit’ means that you’re also well-rounded.

As the admissions pool gets more and more competitive each year, it becomes even more important to find students who would be successful in an academic and co-op environment. This means that they want students who are comfortable answering questions, undergoing interviews, and can behave professionally. After all, co-op is where you'll spend at least four months, every other term!

Student using laptop on desk with other students in background

What we’re looking for

This video interview will give the admissions committee the opportunity to virtually meet you, and get a sense of who you are, both of which are helpful in determining admissibility, as our applicant pool becomes increasingly more competitive.

The best way to do well is to be yourself and answer all questions honestly.

When and how can you get started?

After you apply, you'll receive an email inviting you to participate in the video interview. This email will detail all applicable instructions and deadlines.

If you haven't received the email invite within three weeks of submitting your application through the Ontario Universities' Application Centre, check if the email went to your "promotions", "spam", or "junk" folder. If you still haven't received an invite email, reach out to enginfo@uwaterloo.ca.


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