BSG Bites 3: The Virtual Interview

 

Today is the day…you have an interview! You’ve looked at the train times, your full suit (including the bottom half) is hanging up ready to be worn, you’ve tracked the best route to the office…then you’ve remembered it’s 2021 and we’re still in lockdown. All hail the virtual interview!

Over the last 12 months law firms have completely revised the way they conduct their interviews. The benefit to candidates is that the process is more streamlined with no travel and time off work required.

Nevertheless virtual interviews can be daunting! Over the last 12 months I’ve helped a lot of people through virtual interviews and have kept a list of hints and tips of what to do (and what not to do!) to help secure your dream role from the comfort of your own home.

In short, you should prepare for a virtual interview in exactly the same way you would for a face-to-face interview. Be prepared to talk through your CV and experience, do background research on the firm and compile some questions to ask the interviewers.

There are of course additional considerations to factor in with a virtual interview:

  • Set up – test that your microphone, camera and speakers are working. You don’t want to spend 10 minutes at the start of the interview trying to resolve technical issues. It will not only look as though you’re underprepared but will heighten your nerves.
  • Connection – check your internet connection, close down any unnecessary programmes and web pages and make sure your laptop software is up to date.
  • Surroundings – be mindful of your backdrop. A Partner will not want to see your laundry basket in the background!
  • Do not disturb – it may sound obvious but make sure your parents/partner/the dog aren’t going to disturb you half way through your interview. Find yourself a quiet space where you can speak freely without the fear of distractions.
  • Appearance – I get a lot of questions about this! You should dress (on the top half at least) exactly how you would for an in-person interview. It’s likely that your interviewers will be in casual wear but first impressions count and a suit jacket will set you in good stead. Psychologically you’ll also feel more ready for an interview.
  • On your desk – have a glass of water to hand in case you get a frog in your throat or need a few seconds to think about a question. It’s fine to have your CV as a prompt but avoid temptation to read off a script and don’t become a nodding dog looking up and down.
  • Smile! A tendency on video versus face to face is being less aware of your personality coming across. Don’t fall into this trap and bring as much energy to the video as you would if you were sitting across the desk from an interviewer.
  • Is there a problem – If after 3-4 minutes your interviewers haven’t joined the call or you are being held in a waiting room, don’t delay! Let your agent or your interviewer know if things aren’t going to plan sooner rather than later.

In summary, video interviews should be treated in the same way as any other interview, with a few additional considerations taken into account. You may find yourself to be a natural or it might be a little out of your comfort zone at first. But even if that is the case, it’s nothing that can’t be overcome. The best advice I can give is don’t be complacent and to get some practice in. You can do this with friends or family and can even record yourself using your phone to give yourself some critique. As with anything else, the usual combination of research and advance preparation will go a long way.

Laura Gripton

Senior Legal Consultant at Robert Walters Plc