How to prepare for a video interview

Written by: Katie Beverley, Sellick Partnership
Published on: 2 Jul 2020



The COVID-19 crisis has created many challenges for law firms of all sizes, and recruitment is one aspect of business that has been disrupted since lockdown began.

However, while it has affected recruitment plans for many firms, there are some companies that have been in the position to continue hiring regardless. With social distancing measures in place, the only option for legal hiring managers is to conduct video interviews to find their next employees.

However, video interviews will be very unfamiliar for the vast majority of candidates who have managed to work their way onto shortlists. In this article Katie Beverly of Sellick Partnership will discuss how legal candidates can put themselves in the best possible position for success by preparing for a video interview.

Prepare your tech

The performance of the hardware and software that you use for your call unfortunately has the power to make or break an interview, so the first thing you should do is make sure the technology you are using is correctly set-up.

Ensure that you have a good internet connection to avoid any delays or lags, which will make it difficult for you to communicate clearly and hear the questions you are being asked. It is important that the flow and clarity of your conversation is maintained throughout.

Choose the device that you will feel most comfortable with, making sure that it is fully charged ahead of the interview and, ideally, is able to be plugged in throughout the call.

Test your internal microphone and speaker by adjusting your settings, so that you are happy with the sound levels throughout the interview and are not holding up the interview as it starts.

It is possible that you or the interviewer may be distracted by other devices in your surroundings, so switch your phone to silent and turn off any smart devices, like Amazon Echos and smart watches, before you begin.

It is also important to consider any software that might play notification sounds on the device that you are using - close all additional software that is open, as well as internet browser tabs that you do not need.

Finally, log on early. At a physical interview, you would be expected to arrive before the meeting is due to start and this should be no different. Switch on everything you need at least half an hour early and log into the video meeting software around 15 minutes early. 

Find the perfect spot

The location you choose to conduct the interview is extremely important - you need to be as comfortable as possible to ensure you perform to your best ability, but you also need to be seen clearly by your interviewer.

Pick a spot with good lighting, with a lack of glare and shadows, so that your face is clearly visible and choose a simple, plain background. You want to make sure all of the interviewer’s focus is on you, so avoid having anything that could divert their attention away from you visible on screen during the call.

A quiet location with a lack of background noise will ensure all attendees are able to maintain focus throughout the interview and, again, reduce the risk of distraction for all parties.

Select a comfortable chair in which you can sit up straight and maintain good posture - body language is all the more important in video interviews, given you are not meeting in person.

Finally, position your screen so that your webcam is at eye level, so that you can maintain good, natural eye contact throughout.

Dress to impress

What you wear for your interview is still important, even on video. Dress professionally and as you would if you were going for a physical interview.

Again, first impressions are perhaps even more important on video interviews, as you cannot necessarily rely on conveying the social signals that you would have at your disposal in a one-on-one meeting. So, make your first impression count.

Dressing well for an interview can also help you feel significantly more confident within the interview setting.

Practice makes perfect

Try to find some time with a friend or family member to run through a practice interview, using your chosen technology and location, to head off any possible issues ahead of the real thing.

One of the most challenging aspects of a video interview to get used to is looking into your webcam rather than at your screen, in order to maintain good eye contact with your interviewers. This can require practice, so make use of the time you have before your interview by working on perfecting this skill.

Something that might help make this easier is placing your video browser as close as possible to the top of your monitor so that you are able to both look at your screen and your webcam.

You should also have a good think about the questions you expect to come up on the interview and run through some responses with your friend or family member to get their feedback. 

The ‘new normal’ is not all that different

It is important to remember that, while video interviews come with many differences for candidates and interviewers alike, much of the preparation should be the same as for a physical interview.

You should still:

  • Make sure you have the details of your interview, such as the date and time, clear in your mind
  • Ensure you understand the job specification and know how your skills relate to what they are looking for
  • Think about your ambitions and aspirations so you can give your interviewer an honest appraisal of where you want your career to go
  • Conduct research into the company and your interviewers, if possible
  • Memorise your CV
  • Prepare questions to ask your interviewers

There is no need to re-invent the wheel in order to succeed in a video interview, just some new things to consider that are likely to become commonplace in the coming months as the legal hiring landscape continues to shift following the COVID-19 crisis. By following this advice, you will put yourself in a good position to excel in video interviews now and in the future.