While navigating the global pandemic and social distancing, we are all used to arranging our get-togethers over video, from important work meetings to drinks with friends. But that probably won’t make the prospect of your law firm video interview any less daunting.
Given the competitiveness of vacation scheme and training contract spots, law firms have used video interviews to narrow down applicants for years (even before Covid-19 made virtual meetings trendy).
Law firm video interviews are just like normal in-person interviews. You will meet with a panel of hiring managers and/or senior lawyers to answer questions about your skills and what you can bring to the role, as well as what you know about the firm and the wider legal market. The only major difference of the meeting is that you won’t be in the same room as your interviewers.
However, this can pose problems for applicants, from basic tech issues to awkward pauses. Unlike an automated video interview, you will not have time to prepare your answers, so the ability to think on the spot is a must.
Here, we’ve set out some of our top tips for preparing for your law firm video interview.
Just like face-to-face interviews, you will likely be asked a range of competency and behavioural questions, such as how you would approach certain scenarios and the skills involved. It’s also likely you will be asked questions about the law firm itself and the legal market in which it operates.
So, when preparing for your video interview, make sure you:
Technical issues are not going to be a valid excuse for missing or turning up late to a video interview. Make sure you have everything you need before commencing. For example:
You’ll perform best when you aren’t surrounded by distractions:
Your interviewers know you’re at home, but they will still expect high levels of professionalism. This includes making sure your background is clear, tidy and plain so the interviewers’ attention is completely focused on you. Check your lighting as well to make sure there aren’t any distracting shadows or light glares that could distract your interviewers.
These expectations will also extend to your personal appearance. Dress as if you were attending the interview in person – this means business formal wear. If you insist on wearing your pyjama bottoms, double and triple check that only your top half is visible on camera.
So many social cues come from body language and eye contact. One of the hardest parts of video interviews is reading those signs and making sure that you’re giving off the right signals as well.
Make sure you are able to maintain good posture and eye contact throughout the interview. Adjust your set-up so your webcam is at eye level to encourage a feeling of natural eye contact. Sit up straight and keep your shoulders square to avoid the appearance of slouching.
Self-view will allow you to keep an eye on yourself throughout the interview. However, don’t let yourself be distracted by your own on-screen image. If you’re worried about your gaze constantly darting, check your posture before the interview, then turn off self-view in your video software’s settings so you can’t see yourself during the call.
Ask a friend or family member to do a practice video interview with you to make sure that your technology, background, appearance and body language are all performing as intended. Alternatively, film yourself answering practice interview questions which you can use to tweak your performance.
Practicing can also help you get used to answering questions quickly, reducing the risk of those excruciating mid-interview pauses.
You are on the cusp of the next step in your legal career – a daunting but exciting time. When researching your next career moves, you need information you can trust.
Symphony Legal is one of the UK’s leading legal consultancy businesses. We work with law firms day-in-day-out, and we only work with legal professionals, so we know exactly what they are looking for in their talent.
Whether you are applying for vacation schemes or training contracts, remember that preparation and firm-specific research are the keys to success.