Legal Interview Skills: How to Excel In Your Virtual Interview
- January 22, 2022
Though this post will focus on virtual interviewing ideas, the fundamental process of the interview is the same.
Interviews are an opportunity for candidates and employers to ‘meet’ virtually or face to face. This enables you to ask questions of each other, demonstrate why you as a candidate will be an ideal hire for the firm in question while you test their compatibility to help you develop your legal career.
Interviews can still be an unsettling experience, particularly in an environment where virtual interactions are still taking place across the sector, and many of us aren’t always keen to jump in front of a camera.
Like any life skill, preparation is key. As you prepare for your interview, ensure you answer the following.
- Knowing why you want to move now.
- How you will communicate the value you bring through the results you can achieve.
- How to demonstrate your confidence and capability in every way, including on video
- And how to confirm you are what your prospective employer is looking for.
If you plan to develop your legal career in a new role, this blog will help. I will be reviewing several interview fundamentals and how to present well on video.
The first part of any interview process is to gather data – let me explain.
1. Do Your Research
As a legal professional, you will be used to researching extensively for cases and arguments. The same dedication should influence your job search too. Start by getting to know the firm you’re hoping to work for and make sure you can answer the question, “Why are you a good fit for our team?”
The legal recruitment consultant you are working with will help with this, and it is vital to do your research.
Assessing the firm’s website, social media channels, current legal team, and online content can give you a good insight into the values and principles that guide the business.
You may even find it helpful to look into the background of the person who will be interviewing you on LinkedIn so that you can ask questions related to their role. Remember, asking questions in an interview is a great way to show you are interested, involved, and engaged, all key employability skills every firm is looking for.
2. Plan and Prepare
Planning and preparation can make all the difference to how confident you are as you enter the interview.
As you prepare, look through the job description and expectations and discuss the key motivations and drivers for the firm with your recruitment consultant.
For example, suppose you were applying for a Family Solicitor role. In that case, the requirement might be to demonstrate prior experience working within Private Family Law and manage your workload efficiently.
Therefore, logically what examples do you have to demonstrate where you have gone above and beyond in this area? Once you are clear on examples, it is much easier to use them to answer questions.
Though you can’t predict every single question you will be asked, several time-tested questions might appear. Prepare for questions around:
- Your motivation to study law
- What’s the most difficult case you’ve ever had to deal with?
- How do you deal with an X, Y or Z situation?
- How would you handle a difficult client? Can you share an example?
- Why us and why now?
- What are your career aspirations?
Many firms use a combination of general and competency-based questions, so be prepared for both. A general question may have a yes or no answer though there is usually an opportunity to share more detail, which helps you demonstrate your knowledge and the drive you will bring to the role.
A competency-based question may be asked so that you can demonstrate your knowledge and skill in a specific area. Say that is client management. Use a situation here and describe the scenario, then share your action and the result you achieved.
Practising your interview skills is a great way to perfect your answers to complex questions. It’s also a chance for you to ask people whether you’re making the right impression with your overall attitude, presentation, and image.
3. Master Your Video Skills: It is Easier Than You Think
Video interviews are still often part of the first stage of the hiring process after the hiring team has viewed your CV.
Depending on the firm, you may be asked to record a video where you answer a number of questions about yourself and your capabilities as part of a first screening stage.
Videos ahead of time give you an opportunity for multiple takes to get everything right. Though the hiring manager won’t expect you to be in a professional studio, it is important to record your video to profile you in the best possible way.
People use two popular cameras; one is a webcam, the other a smartphone. I want to share a few important details about both.
Using a smartphone, use a stand to avoid a camera shake from a nervous had. A useful technique is to look up or directly at the camera rather than down. This allows you to use your eye contact and body language to maximum effect.
When it comes to video technology, smartphones do an amazing job, and to improve the impact, better lighting and an external microphone will lift the experience. The number of people using video technology has meant that you can get a camera stand, lighting, and a microphone for under forty pounds.
Remember to record in a well-lit room with a plain background behind you.
Recording ahead of time allows you to practise what you say and how you come across. Importantly remember to look into the camera lens, which you can test ahead of time.
Similar principles apply to web cameras which can often be plugged onto a monitor screen or are part of your computer. Test the audio quality ahead of time as using ear jacks or an external microphone might give a better experience.
A headset and earphones are gamers’ choices; however, try to avoid using a headset like this during an interview as they can restrict your movement and are not flattering to wear.
It’s also worth taking extra steps to “set up your space” for video. Make sure your lighting is excellent in your room of choice, and there isn’t clutter or a window behind you in the video stream. If you can’t find a professional-looking space in your home, use virtual or custom backgrounds instead.
Remember, when you record a video like this, taking one will rarely be your best version. Practice really does make perfect, and a rushed or unrehearsed video stands out a mile.
When it comes to having an interactive video interview, the same principles apply that I mentioned earlier. Remember to look into the camera as much as you can, varying your gaze when someone else is speaking so that you can get a sense check on the body language your interviewer is sharing.
It goes without saying that you should dress for the role you want, which includes all areas of your body that will be both off and on camera.
Being generally confident, friendly, and open will make it easier for your interviewer to connect with you and imagine a space for you in the firm. Pay attention to your actions throughout the interview, and try not to engage in any nervous behaviours like wringing your fingers, or tapping your desk, as this can make you look impatient.
We have focused on working with the camera and sound, and there may be other software involved. If that is the case, download the software you need for the conversation in advance, and practice using it. Ensure you know how to do everything from sharing your screen to muting yourself when someone else talks.
Check the quality of your internet connection in advance, so you can warn your interviewer if you’re concerned you might have any lag issues. You can also contact a friend or family member via video to check your video and audio look and sound as good as possible.
The legal industry is on the verge of a virtual hiring revolution. For some time now, recruitment has been growing increasingly virtual.
Before the pandemic, the Clayton group had already begun utilising video interviewing for our client and our candidate recruitment, with great results.
We have invested in the latest video technology that provides an unparalleled recruitment process for legal job seekers.
Contact the Clayton Legal team today if you would like support to develop your legal job search in the virtual age.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country
since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and
reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from
Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T.
personnel to Practice Managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.