A spotty internet connection. The doorbell rings. Your roommate accidentally walks in the room. Welcome to the new world of biglaw hiring as you have even more obstacles in your way to landing a biglaw offer. Interviewing via video lacks so much compared to interviewing in person. Here are 4 strategies you can employ when interviewing over zoom that will give you the best shot at landing offers:
There’s so much you can’t control in the interview process. Whether the interviewer is having a bad day, when they had lunch, did they have a big breakfast, did their spouse just text them, etc. Control what you can: do a trial run of your video conferencing software with a friend or family member before the interview, log onto the software 15-30 minutes before the interview (but don’t join the room until 5 minutes before your time) to make sure your tech is running smoothly, put your phone on silent, and tell anyone you live with that you’re about to do an interview.
The more comfortable you can feel in a rather uncomfortable situation, the better. Try to leave as little to chance as possible.
2. Put yourself in the best light, literally
Interview success depends a lot on presentation. In a video conference setting, adjust your lighting and raise your screen so the frame covers your entire head. Make sure your background is professional and doesn’t show anything that could be embarrassing. Wear a suit and treat the interview like you would in person. Try recording yourself talking about yourself for 15 minutes to get used to it. As noted above, the more practice you do under “game-time” conditions, the better.
3. Maintain virtual eye contact
After you have done the dress rehearsals and optimized your setting, be engaged during the interview. Similar to interviewing in person, you want to maintain eye contact with the camera and not get distracted looking around the room or at your keyboard. Some people can find it disconcerting to see themselves on the screen, but get over that roadblock with constant repetition. Remember, the stakes are high and the job market is tougher than it’s been in recent memory, so the more work you put in to interviewing, the more options you’ll have after OCIs.
4. Not really a tip but you should know…your resume and work experience will matter more than ever
Don’t get me wrong – your video interview will still matter. But it will be much harder for evaluating attorneys to get a good sense of a law student when conducting the interview over video. Much of the evaluations we do are based on in-person interactions. Probably more than we’d care to admit, but that “gut feel” drives much of the decision-making process of a particular candidate. Video interviewing will still reveal how a candidate does under pressure, how they respond to questions, etc. But this year – more than ever – what you have on paper will carry extra importance. If you have work experience, I would expand on even the smallest things you did. If you don’t have work experience, highlight more aspects of your internships and translate certain work functions you did to the law firm setting.
How will all of this help you get offers: Prepare, prepare, prepare. Control for all the variables you can control, and then let go of everything else. Make eye contact with your computer camera and enjoy the process. Enjoy the awkward silences. Enjoy the pauses. Respond with calm and a sense of humor, and you’ll have biglaw offers to choose from after navigating this new world of virtual OCIs.