Law firms are increasingly rolling out automated video “interviews” for clerkship applications. There is nothing to worry about, other than getting used to speaking at a computer (which is massively unnatural when you haven’t had practice).
This is a quick post on video interview for clerkship (and other) applications. They form part of the screening and culling process so you’ll want to know how best to prepare.
I wrote this post before the COVID situation emerged, and then got really lazy and never hit the “publish” button. Suffice to say, this is even more important now!
What are video interviews?
There is nothing mysterious about video interviews. It’s a relatively straight forward process:
- You sit in front of your laptop and log into the designated interview website. The website will beam up a number of questions on screen for you to answer (it’s automated – there’s no interviewer on the other side).
- You get some time to think about what you want to say before you need to answer. It may be as little as 30 seconds (still more than you would get in a face-to-face interview), but it’s usually around 1 minute to 1.5 minutes (and some give unlimited time).
- Your time starts and you can answer the question. You will generally get around 1.5 minutes to respond.
- In most cases, you have to proceed with the first response you provide, but some firms will give you a second chance if you didn’t like your first one (some firms will even give you a third chance).
- There are usually only between 5 and 10 questions to answer.
Once your interview is recorded it’s beamed to the firm and you’re done.
Similar to psychometric tests, a video interview is used to as a screening tool to reduce the workload of law firms during the clerkship process. The HR teams can review them easily when they have time and then choose the best applicants for face to face interviews.
A video interview might take place at the same time as psychometric testing. In this case, your recorded video interview will only be reviewed by the HR team if you pass the psychometric testing – again, no point spending time on reviewing an interview if a candidate doesn’t pass the psychometric test. Alternatively, if there is a two-stage process, firms might send our video interviews to only those candidates who pass the psychometric test.
Tips for video interviews
You already known it – practice makes perfect.
Practice by recording a video on whatever you will use on the day (ie phone or laptop / MacBook) and then have a think about the following:
- Are you too close to the screen, or too far? Test it out to find the best distance.
- How’s the lighting? Natural light through a window is softer and will always look better, so try to avoid late night interviews with harsh inside lighting.
- Wear what you would normally wear to an interview to get yourself in the zone (bottom half possibly unnecessary)! Do you look professional?
- You wouldn’t have notes for a face to face interview so you shouldn’t have them here. That said, if you do take the opportunity, make sure they are placed somewhere that you can check without it being obvious on the recording. For example, can you get away with large notes far behind the computer?
- Sitting / standing – what looks more natural?
- Google other tips for video interviewing – there are heaps out there.
You will also be given a link to test your connection. Do this a few days before your interview to confirm there are no issues with your camera and sound – the lighting and colour of the video will also change depending on the website or application being used by the firm, so best to see how things will look well in advance.
It’s obvious that law firms can process video interviews much more easily than face-to-face interviews. This results in big time savings (which in turn saves money), and in recent years this has been the driving force behind the increase in popularity. The current COVID situation will no doubt cement video interviews as a common feature in the future.
Even if you don’t think that you’ll apply for clerkships or otherwise encounter video interviews this year, it might be worth getting out your phone and making a short recording. I used to practice questions out loud but, on reflection, recording myself would have been far better. You can check your pose, facial expressions, use of hand gestures, and overall presentation.
Good luck, and if you have any extra tips, let people know by using the comment section below!