In the wake of the chaos and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic currently gripping the world, law firms and in-house legal teams across the UK are making serious and unprecedented adjustments to keep business progressing as usual (as much as possible) with the health and well-being of their employees, clients and guests at the forefront of their thinking.
We have seen firms move their entire workforce out of the office with special measures taken to ensure that everyone is fully set up and supported for remote working and remote supervision. As well as hosting meetings via web-conferencing facilities we’re also seeing efforts to maintain team morale through the same facilities – I’m sure we all noticed the posts on LinkedIn and Instagram, with entire teams having Friday drinks via webcams.
This is encouraging, seeing how law firms and legal teams are responding to the crisis as positively as possible, and doing their best to find solutions rather than hiding behind closed doors. As legal recruiters, we are still seeing instructions on new roles across numerous disciplines and so we continue to make applications and arrange interviews.
As such, among the changes being made are significant adjustments to interview processes with most firms opting to conduct online meetings and interviews instead of face to face meetings.
Video interviews have been available and utilised in special circumstances by law firms for many years. Largely when the two parties involved are in different countries, but always as a second choice to a face to face meeting.
While there will always be an argument in favour of meeting in person so that all parties can truly gauge each other and build suitable rapport, given the most recent guidelines and recommendations provided by the UK government law firms and in-house legal teams have had no choice but to adapt and embrace technology to ensure that these interviews and meetings can go ahead.
With that in mind, I thought it might be useful to provide some hints, tips and guidance on video interviews:
- Set yourself up in a quiet and well-lit space where you won’t be disturbed. We all remember that interview on the news last year, with two children bursting into the room and being ushered out rather unceremoniously. Funny as that was, and as understanding as your interviewer is likely to be, try to make sure you won’t be interrupted.
- Firms will most likely provide you with access to web-conferencing facilities. Ensure that you have a strong internet connection and test it out with your recruiter, a friend or colleague ahead of your interview to ensure that the software and hardware will work and that you will be clear in both picture and sound.
- Be ready and be on time. Make sure you are set up and ready to receive the call in plenty of time. If you cannot connect, if you’re held up, the usual rules apply: with plenty of notice and in all honesty contact your recruiter or your interviewer to let them know.
- Make sure your phone is on silent and all notifications are turned off. While you may not be meeting in person, the simple and basic etiquette of a more traditional interview is still relevant and important. Speaking of which…
- Dress appropriately. It is all too easy to spend a day working from home in your “comfies” and I will admit that I do this too. However, if I am participating in a video meeting then I will at the very least make sure that I am suitably attired.
- It can be difficult to express and gauge personality during a video call. As a legal recruiter I will of course assist all of my candidates in preparation for interviews, as such I will happily help you prepare for a video interview with video/facetime prep. If you are not using a recruiter or have been liaising directly with your prospective employer, practice with a friend.
- Maintain eye contact and nod when the interviewer talks to show that you’re engaged. If you’re being interviewed by a panel, direct your answers to the person asking the questions, remembering to make occasional eye contact with the other interviewers too.
- Ask questions. Have these prepped and ready ahead of your interview and written down just out of sight of the camera.
- It won’t be this way forever, but we do feel that processes will be continuously evaluated as we continue to live and work through these strange and trying times. With this in mind, a WebEx/Video-conference interview should be treated with the same regard as a face to face. Be polite, be professional, be punctual, be engaging, be articulate, and be yourself – personality always goes a long way in any interview scenario.
My colleagues and I are on hand to answer your questions, to keep you informed of changes and movements in the legal jobs market, to help you and guide you through the process from start to finish.
Associate Director – Think Legal Recruitment
0121 392 8139 | 07720 694 701