By: The NBI Team
Monday, December 20, 2021
5 Tips for Virtual Legal Job Interviews
If you’re a 3L, you’re probably deep into the job hunt by now. Today, the interview process for law students will look very different, mostly because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Why? Because many legal job interviews, from legal aid and law firm interviews, are going virtual.
Law Job Interviews Are Going Virtual
At the height of the pandemic, employers across the country transitioned their recruitment and hiring processes to a remote model. This included switching all face-to-face interviews to remote interviews, both live and recorded.
Now, hiring managers in all industries, including the legal industry, have decided to keep their virtual interviewing process. Since remote recruitment is here to stay, new lawyers will need to know how to prepare for a virtual interview. Below are the best law job interview tips to help you prepare.
5 Law Job Interview Tips For a Successful Virtual Interview
- Set the Scene: Background, Lighting, and Law Interview Attire
One of the biggest differences between in-person and video interviews is how they look. In person, things like bad lighting aren’t as obvious, and backgrounds aren’t an issue because interviews take place at the office.
At home, it’s a completely different story. To set the best background for your virtual interview, make sure you set the scene. The following are a few things to think about as you’re prepping for your virtual law job interview.
Choose a background that is free from distractions. This may be an office background or even just a blank wall. As boring as it might seem, having a bank wall behind you will help your interviewer focus on you. Avoid using a virtual background.
If your setting is less than ideal, that’s okay. Consider checking with a friend, family member, or your law school. Law schools often have interviewing rooms for law students to use for virtual interviews.
Lighting can make or break the appearance of the interview. Unfortunately, some offices and sometimes our homes just don’t have the right lighting for a computer camera. If that’s the case for you, look for an LED light to help even out the lighting in your room. If you’re not sure where to look, check out these options on Amazon:
- Yuzoon Ring Light with a Stand
- Viltrox LED Light
- Lume Cube Video Lighting Kit
Law Interview Attire
Dress as you would dress to a normal legal job interview. If you’re not sure what to wear, contact your law school’s career services office. You can also review Berkeley Law School’s law job interview attire guide.
Body language is an important factor in interviewing, including virtual interviewing. Fidgeting or looking away from the interviewer too much might send the wrong signal. For most, body language is also mostly unconscious. So don’t worry if you have to practice staying mindful of it.
Here are some body language tips to consider while you’re interviewing:
- Posture. In an interview, slouching might give off the impression that you’re bored. If you need some extra help keeping good posture, sit at the edge of your chair and lean forward slightly.
- Facial expression. Be aware of your facial expression during the interview. When it starts, you’ll want to smile and show confidence.
- Arm position. Avoid crossing your arms or gesturing too much. Crossing arms shows discomfort, which might be interpreted as not wanting to be in the interview. Gestures sometimes help in public speaking, but they can also be distracting.
- Nodding. Nodding shows understanding and interest. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it, but nodding when it makes sense will boost your communication.
- Eye Contact. Keep eye contact with the interviewer by looking either directly at the interviewer or into the camera.
Just like remote work, remote interviewing is different in many ways. Still, the type of questioning you’ll experience in a virtual interview will remain the same as in-person interviews. And even though there will be slight differences depending on the practice area, any good lawyer interview will include questions in the following categories:
- Your professional goals and accomplishments
- The law firm you’re interviewing for, including why you want to work for them
- Your resume
- Your law school experience
- Your interests
- Behavior-based questions, which usually include phrases like “tell me about a time when…” or “what would you do if…”
You’ll want to prepare as much as possible for your interview. If you’re still feeling nervous. Go through all of your interview questions at least 24 hours before the interview. Then, try to rest as much as possible.
Having notes can be an advantage, but don’t overuse them.
Many law job interview tips suggest keeping and taking notes. Generally, this is good advice. One of the advantages of virtual interviewing is that you can have notes with you that interviewers won’t see. Having notes can help you stay on track with your answers and prevent you from forgetting any highlights.
Still, you don’t want to depend on your notes too much. If an interviewer notices that you’re frequently looking down, or if you sound like you’re reading directly from your notes, they might think you aren’t prepared.
Unfortunately, small talk in video calls is often harder to have because loading and sounds delays are common. Sometimes, delays are just unavoidable. Whether you’re using Zoom, Google hangouts, or Microsoft Teams, you’ll have to figure how well your video conferencing will work and adjust accordingly.
Generally, it’s always good to wait a bit longer than usual before speaking to make sure your interviewer is done speaking.
Once you’ve set up your interview space and you’ve practiced your interview questions, do a test run and record yourself answering some of your questions. Prerecording answers is extremely helpful because you can see what your interviewers will see.
To learn more about interviewing, creating resumes, and more, order the free OnDemand course, How to Get the Job: What New Attorneys Need to Know.