Coronavirus Information and Update: Spring 2021 Plans

December 07, 2020

Career Services Blog

Jobs in the Time of Corona: Video Interviews are “Real” Interviews

by Lexie Zirschky, Director of Public Interest Law

By this point, you have mastered the tips and tricks we discussed in our first post about video interviews - great lighting, enthusiasm, and closing the bathroom door. From what we hear from employers, video interviews aren’t going away anytime soon - and of course, the upcoming January recruitment and NW Public Service Career Fair will both utilize this format. Now that we’ve discussed the basics, let’s cover some more keys to success.

A video interview is (generally) not an open-note exam.
There you are, hitting your interview out of the park, when you’re asked “Who is the current District Attorney for Lane County?” You’re drawing a blank. The camera is only showing your head and shoulders. Can you sneakily read off the county’s website, or quickly Google the answer? Can you glance over at your second monitor?

No! Ethical considerations aside (and you can’t put those aside), interviewers can tell when you’re reading off their website or scrambling for your off-screen iPhone. You won’t get away with this, even in a virtual format, and you’ll likely make a worse impression on your potential employer than if you simply admitted to not knowing the answer. Does that mean that you can never use notes? Absolutely not, just understand that there is an appropriate context and protocol for doing so - for instance, you can ask an employer for a moment to consult your notes if you’re asked what questions you have about the employer’s office.

Location, location, location.
In these corona times, it’s very possible that you’ll be interviewing from California, with an attorney who has temporarily relocated to Vermont, for an office physically located in Seattle, for a position that will remain remote through the summer. Does that mean location doesn’t matter?

Not entirely. We are seeing location becoming less relevant, which affords our students broader opportunities. However, keep in mind that many employers still want interns or attorneys who express an understanding of (if not a strong commitment to) their location. If you have ties to Texas, mention them to your Dallas-based potential employer. If you’re interviewing for a remote legal services position in rural Idaho, you can go a long way by expressing your understanding that their client base may have less reliable access to broadband internet than a Boise-based provider. If you’re interviewing with an attorney based out of the Portland office of a national firm (even if she’s in Arizona right now), don’t focus on a practice area that the firm only maintains out of New York.

Do not give in to “Zoom Fatigue” - this is a “real” interview.
We’ve said it before, but it warrants repeating: a video interview is a real interview. Earlier on in the pandemic, you kept your Zoom game sharp for meeting with attorneys, clients, professors, and even other students. You wore real pants! Now, your “formal sweatpants” are starting to fray, and you may be ready to spend your break as far from screens as possible. Stay sharp! In a remote context, your video interview is a direct preview to an employer of how you’ll interview a client remotely or virtually appear in court. You can’t be driving, inappropriately dressed, or streaming the latest Netflix sensation. Equally important: you need to conduct the same preparation and follow up that you would for any in-person interview. Read your employer’s website (ahead of time) and send a thank you note!

Nervous? No need to be - our Career Services Advisers are happy to schedule a mock interview with you. Get your appointment scheduled through Career Connect early because our offices are closed over the winter break from December 21, 2020, through January 1, 2021.