It’s no longer a debate that the advent of Covid-19 brought about many changes to how we do things happened. To combat the pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing among other initiatives were initiated. Such initiatives had a domino effect on law recruitment. Several law firms had to suspend their training contract recruitment process; some training contracts already awarded had to be deferred. But then law firms did what they have always done for centuries: they adapted and evolved. Law firms adapted to the circumstances and evolved their recruitment process. The use of zoom and similar apps became an essential tool for recruiting great individuals into law firms.
Though the initiatives initiated during the darkest times of Covid-19 have eased off, law firms have not abandoned interviewing candidates via zoom and other video tools. We will now discuss tips you need to embrace for your upcoming video legal interview on zoom and similar virtual interfaces. The tips will be more useful for live video interviews
Tip 1: Thou must be Prepared
A mistake video interviewees make is to go into the interview unprepared. Sometimes this is a result of the erroneous belief that because it’s not a face-to-face interview it will be easier and they can wing the answers; they could not be more wrong. It is shocking to them that during a zoom interview they have no clue as to what is going on. Thus, to increase your chances of success in your interview, you should prepare beforehand. The preparation must be streamlined and focused.
First, you must research the law firm and its practice areas. Be familiar with the areas of law that the law firm is in. This will help you prepare a response as to how its work ties in with your reasons for wanting that position.
This point is quite important because in most law interviews (if not all), the interviewer will be asking you questions concerning what you put down on your application form. You will also be asked why you are applying to the firm. In light of this, you must study your application intensely, and learn how to bring your stories to life. This is not quite difficult to accomplish. To bring your story to life you should have prepared answers – when delivering them it should be like you are having a conversation. You can post sticky notes or post-it notes around your device frame if it will help. *wink wink, interviewers cannot see what is outside of your camera view*. Part of your preparation should include performing mock interviews. After you have prepared your responses, practise the responses while the camera is rolling. When you have finished that, play it to see how you performed and where you need to improve. Get a friend to give you feedback. They will see things you can’t see.
Tip 2: Reliable Internet Connections
In every video interview, you embark on that is not pre-recorded, there’s a real chance that there will be technical issues. Quite a few of those times, the reason for the glitch is a result of poor internet connection. If you are using a phone for the interview you should be connected to a Wifi rather than your mobile’s data. The reason is that some phones cannot be using the internet [at least at a fast rate] while the phone is taking a call. So what might happen if you are doing your video interview with mobile data is that if there is an incoming call, the internet will disconnect, thereby harming your video interview.
Tip 3: Dress Appropriately
Lawyers in the UK are known for wearing outfits that have sombre colours (colours that are dull or plain and not bright). When doing your video interview your suit should be sombre. If the firm says you can put on a casual outfit, feel free to put on casuals. But if they say nothing concerning what you should wear then you should put on a suit as you’d if the interview was physical. Please fully dress professionally – from head to toe – you never know when something may cause you to have to stand up. Fully dressing professionally also makes you feel confident and may help put you in the mindset that you are conducting serious business – how it should be. You cannot go wrong putting on a dark, deep blue suit. Remember to avoid any high contrast between two colours, as it won’t do well on camera.
Tip 4: Groom Yourself
For those with beards, the debate will always rage: should you cut your beard, or can you have a beard for your interview. The conventional wisdom was that in your interview, your face should be so shaved that it looks like a perfectly hardboiled peeled egg. However, things are changing within the legal sector. Remember there was once a time solicitors were always on a suit and tie while at work but now things have changed in that area.
I’m in the camp of its ok to keep a beard, a clean well-looked groomed beard though. Don’t be looking like you have spent some time sleeping rough at a train station. If you are still undecided, you can either cut the beard or have a look at the images of solicitors on the law firm’s website. If the law firm has lawyers that have a beard chances are that they may be a bit more liberal. However, whether or not you decide to keep your beard, present yourself as a professional during the video interview. For men that will mean having a clean cut, women will need to make sure their hair is done. If you are applying makeup it shouldn’t be much.
Setting up the Zoom/App
In setting up the zoom, please make sure that the device you are using is placed on a platform at your eye level so that you are not looking down at it. Secondly, the device should be away from you at arms’ length, so it’s not too close to you. This will allow you to gesticulate when you need to. Thirdly, this is very important, make sure that you are facing the light source while the device is backing the light source. If the light source is the sun, make sure that you do not have it behind you as it can cause shadows that may affect the quality of your video.
Fourthly, make sure that the video interview is going to take place in a quiet place. This means that the TV should be switched off and any other distraction should be far away from you. If you live with people you can give them a heads-up beforehand to be quiet at that time. If you go on YouTube and type in ‘children interrupt BBC news interview’ you will see a hilarious clip where kids crash in on their father’s live TV discussion. The clip is funny to us watching it but I’m sure it wouldn’t be funny if it was you or I that it was happening to. Let it not be you.
Fifthly, kindly ensure that the frame or video of yourself you see captures from your head to your stomach area. You must also ensure that your audio is loud and clear; what you say and what your interviewer is saying should be clear. You can perform a test of the audio ahead of time (Zoom allows for this). Another point to consider is to make sure that your background is excellent. That means anything in the background that will make you look unprofessional should not appear in the video. An office-like setting is probably the best kind of background. If however, you have to do it in your room make sure that your bed is not in the background. Instead, put a bookshelf or have a plain wall in the background. I’ll also advise that you avoid virtual backgrounds
If interviewing via zoom you will be sent a meeting ID and passcode. It’s good practice to join the zoom meeting a few minutes ahead. It’s better to wait for the interviewer than you having to explain to the interviewer why you are late. Signing in five minutes ahead of the scheduled time is very much acceptable. Furthermore, remember that just like in a physical interview being personable matters. This means that at all times you should be seen to be engaged with the interviewer. No, do not quickly check your Instagram page. Zoom interviews may be recorded to be played back to help decide if you should be the one.
We believe that if you follow the above tips you are more likely to successfully pass your zoom interview. Good luck!
Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)
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