Video Interviews: Live Applicant Coaching


When hiring managers encounter or suspect that a candidate is receiving live coaching during video interviews, it can present a challenge in assessing the candidate’s true abilities and suitability for the role.

As an organization, it is imperative that internal expectations are put into place. Is a candidate suspected of live coaching automatically disqualified? Is this a situation that is occurring often enough that it needs to be addressed with applicants prior to interviews?  Does our team need training to recognize signs that a candidate is being coached?

Once these questions have been answered, you can address the issue head on.

  • Set your expectations early. Before the interview begins, communicate your policy on seeking external assistance or coaching during the live interview. Reinforce the importance of assessing their individual skills and qualifications without assistance.
  • Use behavioral questions. Including behavioral and situational questions in the interview will require specific examples on-the-fly. You can gauge their abilities, problem-solving skills, and decision-making process. This makes it harder to rely solely on coaching in an interview.
  • Observe inconsistencies: Do the candidate’s responses make sense? What is their body language or level of confidence. Are answers forced, rehearsed, or delayed as they seek input from a third party?
  • Assess problem-solving skills. Set up a hypothetical problem or challenge that is relevant to the position and observe how they approach it. Look for their ability to think critically and analyze the situation. Are they providing logical solutions? If they are relying on a coach, they may struggle to think independently or demonstrate creativity in their problem-solving.
  • Evaluate overall fit. Qualifications, experience, cultural fit, and potential should be evaluated in addition to interview performance. While coaching is not ideal, it shouldn’t be the sole basis for rejecting a candidate if they have other strong qualities. Moreover, if their other qualifications are in-step with the position, the coaching could be seen as resourceful.
  • Follow up with references. Reach out to a candidate’s references to gain additional insights into their abilities and performance. Though references are typically chosen to be favorable towards a candidate, they can provide valuable information about specific skills, projects, or professionalism.

It is essential that the interview process remain fair and consistent to ensure that candidates have an equal opportunity to showcase their abilities. However, if you suspect that a candidate has received live coaching during a video interview after explicitly barring its use, there are ways to address the situation, should the candidate be otherwise qualified.

Start by gathering evidence. Is the candidate looking off-camera? Are they distracted? Are there unusual pauses or rehearsed filler phrases while they wait for coaching feedback. Likewise, ask clarifying questions that can explain the thought process behind a response.

Additionally, you can address the concern directly. Express observations about their distractions and allow them the opportunity to explain and provide their perspective.

“During the interview, I noticed some pauses and changes in your responses that made me wonder if you are receiving assistance. Can you clarify if you are being actively coached?”

Furthermore, the incident should be documented and discussed internally. However, the discretion is largely up to you to decide whether using a coach is a disqualifying offense.

Though it may be apparent to the hiring team that live coaching is inappropriate, an applicant may see it as another resource in their ability to be competitive.

Should an otherwise ideal applicant who interviews poorly be eliminated from consideration? Or does the live coaching exhibit their desire to work for your organization?

View our recent case studies and gain an even greater perspective.