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Training contract applications – 5 top tips to help you smash your automated video interview

Training contract applications – 5 top tips to help you smash your automated video interview

We all know how competitive top law firm training contract and vacation scheme spots are, and firms are coming up with increasingly creative ways to help them identify the very best candidates from the deluge of applications they receive.

It is very common nowadays to be asked to do an automated video interview in the early stages of a law firm’s trainee recruitment process.

Think of it more like a pre-interview or even a living application – the video will usually be pre-recorded and submitted to the law firm who will consider it alongside your paper application. So, it is essential to stand out because it may be the deciding factor in whether your vacation scheme or training contract application progresses.

Follow our top tips to excel in your automated video interview and increase your chances of getting an interview with an actual human.

How do law firm automated video interviews work?

An automated interview is a pre-recorded video interview. You will be asked to answer around four to eight questions which will pop up on the screen. You will usually be given around 60 seconds to prepare, then 60 seconds to record your answer.

Automated video interviews can be much less stressful than in-person interviews – after all, there is no panel of expectant faces staring you down as you try to prove your commercial awareness.

However, you cannot usually rewind the interview or redo your questions, and these interviews can often mean the difference between your application being progressed and it being rejected. So, it is vital to be prepared.

What questions will they ask at your pre-recorded law firm interview?

Just like an in-person interview, you will likely be asked a range of competency and behavioural questions as well as questions about the law firm itself and the legal framework in which it operates.

This means that you should prepare for an automated video interview just as you would any other interview. For example:

  • Research the firm, the types of work it does, its competitors, commercial goals and position within the legal market.
  • Prepare to demonstrate your commercial awareness and make sure you can contextualise real-world issues within the legal sector. Have examples to hand, such as prominent news stories or personal experience.
  • Think about your own strengths and weaknesses and make sure you can back up your answers with real-life examples.
  • Have solid reasons as to why you want to be a lawyer and why you want a position at this particular firm.

Our 5 top tips to help you smash your automated video interview

1.    Treat it like any other interview

There may not be an actual person asking you the interview questions, but you should still treat your digital interview like an in-person one. This means wearing business smart (on your top half at least), making sure your background is plain, neat and professional (perhaps take down the superhero posters for the time being), and turning up on time if you are required to submit your interview by a deadline.

2.    Plan in advance

You want to be comfortable during your pre-recorded interview. Make sure you choose a quiet location where you are unlikely to be disturbed.

Think about your lighting as well – a shadowy or over-enhanced video could distract from you and your skills. Either use natural lighting or play around with your webcam and lamp until you find a lighting solution that works.

3.    Leave plenty of time for technical difficulties

Law firms tend to use online third party software to deliver pre-recorded interviews. However, technical difficulties are unlikely to be an acceptable reason for missing your digital interview.

Make sure you test your computer, internet connection, webcam and any software they ask you to use well before you need to do the interview. That way you have plenty of time to sort out any issues or speak to the law firm if you are unable to access the software.

When doing the interview itself, make sure your computer and anything else you need is fully charged. Turn off notifications or anything that could ping and make a noise during your interview.

Remember, once you start the automated interview, you may not be able to pause it. It may also be worth asking the law firm what you should do if you have any technical difficulties beyond your control during the interview.

4.    Practice your talking speed

You will usually have just 60 seconds to blurt out your answer to each question and that is it. No do-overs. No room for umming and ahing.

That being said, 60 seconds can be a long time to fill, especially if you are talking quickly due to nervousness.

We recommend practicing answering interview questions within 60 seconds, focusing on your talking speed and keeping your voice steady. Record yourself practicing so you can watch back and make adjustments if necessary.

5.    Remember your pen and paper

You may only get 60 seconds to answer each interview question, but you will also usually get 60 seconds to prepare. If you think about it, this is actually quite generous. In what other interview would the interviewer sit in silence for a minute while you frantically make notes?

Taking advantage of this preparation time is the key to success. Have a pen and paper beside you so you can quickly jot down ideas and get your thoughts straight. Preparing model answers in advance can also go a long way. But remember, you are being recorded, so once it is time to give your answer, make sure you look at the camera and do not just read off your notes.  

Looking for a job in law?

You are just at the start of your legal career – a scary but exciting time. When researching your next career steps, 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.

Whatever your training contract interviews throw at you, remember that preparation and research is the key – your success is ultimately down to you.