😇 How to Interview Remotely

By 

Legal Operations
Industry Insights

It’s about time we accepted that remote interviews are the way of the world now. Long gone are the times of waiting nervously, going on that awkward office tour, and sitting face-to-face with your interviewer. Let’s face it, it’s a lot simpler to hop on a zoom call. That doesn’t mean everything you learned, and practiced for in-person interviews should go out the window. Even so, remote interviews demand some unique characteristics.

Here’s 5 tips to take into your next remote interview, so you can score that dream job you’ve been waiting for.

  1. Appearance

Yes, it’s still the first thing the interviewer will see. Your Appearance in a remote interview captures a bigger picture than you may initially think. Look professional, but don’t overdo it. Chances are, if you’re interviewing remotely- the job is also remote. Ditch the suit jacket, and consider something more casual. While tempting, avoid the virtual background. Yes, it’s great that you love the mountains, or want to appear to be in outer space. But they tend to glitch, and can be distracting.

Pick a clean, and neutral background that is free of noise when conducting the interview. Practice the set-up beforehand so you know what you look like, and make some tweaks if necessary. Make sure you are level, centered with the screen, and have proper lighting. Spending time to ensure the set-up is interview-ready will make the interview a lot less stressful.

  1. Technology

While some of us may be a little bit too comfortable with using Zoom these days, it doesn’t hurt to practice a rundown of the specific platform the interview is conducted over. A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that technology failed in 41% of remote interviews. You want to set up the best possible circumstances for it to work smoothly. We all know the stress of hopping onto Zoom and seeing the update now button, or simply not being able to enter a call due to a faulty link. Test the link, and make sure you’re on a secure wifi connection. If it’s prone to being slow, ask those around you to stay off, or maybe even rely on your mobile hotspot. Pro Tip: Google has an internet speed test that lets you test how fast your connection is. Don’t forget to test your headphones and speakers. The last thing you want is to be fumbling around with the audio settings at the beginning of the interview. By thoroughly testing everything beforehand, you’ll ensure a blip-free connection.

  1. Exaggerate

We all experience the muffled audio, and slight blurred lag that comes with zoom - and every other teleconferencing platform. You want to look engaged, but the traditional signals (like sitting up, or responsive body language) make it tough when connecting virtually. Try exaggerating your responses a bit, with the goal of looking eager, but natural. A hand signal or two never hurts, and a smile does wonders. During a job interview you’re actually auditioning for the role. By thinking of it in these terms, it’s easier to visualize and practice what you should be focusing on. Obviously you want to exude confidence, and competency…but you also want to exude the characteristics the company stands for. Take note of the company values (maybe a quick LinkedIn search of CEOs/Notable employees) so you have an idea of what they’re looking for in a successful candidate.

Of course, don’t forget to practice. Give it a go, and record yourself doing so. Many of us do not realize how fast we’re speaking when nervous. Slow down, and practice your pace- so you come across as relaxed and confident. Not to mention, slowing down will give you better clarity of thought, so you can make sure you’re answering questions thoughtfully, and not just as a jumble of filler words rifling out of your mouth. This is harder than it looks! Even the best of us get nervous during interviews, and it’s easy to fall back on old ways. Even though it seems pointless, the more you practice- the more comfortable you'll be. Play it back, and make sure it looks casual. Remember, you want to stand out for your abilities as a candidate, not for being the running joke of the slack chat.

  1. Read the Room (Virtually)

This one is tough. Social cues are inherently difficult to read over technology, and the 9x16 screen only conveys so much. In a traditional setting, it’s easy to see when an interviewer is getting bored. There’s the tell-tale signs of paper shuffling, looking off into the distance, tapping foot, etc. Yet, there are a few ways you can virtually read your interviewer. First, it’s essential to maintain eye contact. Keep in mind… to maintain eye contact over a video call, you’ll have to look into the camera, and not on the screen (we know…this one is tough!). Maintaining eye contact will demonstrate your interest in the interview, and maintain the interest of the interviewer.

If you are answering a question, and their eyes start veering off into the distance- they’re probably bored. Wrap it up, and move onto the next subject. This goes for yourself too. Try not to read notes when answering a question. You want to have all notifications silenced, and ideally have all other tabs closed. If you want to reference your CV, or resume try printing it out- and be honest about using it. It’s obvious when you are switching between tabs on your computer, and can deter the interviewer. By printing any necessary info out, you can quickly glance over to reference when needed without looking distracted or disengaged. Besides, the interview will flow more conversationally, and you’ll better keep the attention of the interviewer.

  1. Ask Questions

A traditional workplace setting is very cut and dry. You know the hours you’ll be working, what desk you’ll be working at, and how you’ll communicate with the team. Online work is a bit tricky. There’s a plethora of workspaces the team may use (like google workspace, notion, microsoft teams), as well as means of communication (slack, telegram, discord, email). Many companies use multiple interchangeably, and there’s often several ways teams communicate with each other.. ask upfront. You don’t want to come into a new job fiddling with several tabs and constantly pinging your coworkers- or not pinging them enough. Not only these, but ask questions to try to understand what a day in the life of the job looks like, how success is measured, and how a team culture is maintained. Make sure it is a good fit for your career, but also your desired work-life balance.

By asking questions particular to remote, or online jobs-you’ll gain a step up to the other interviewees who may have never worked remotely before (even if you haven’t either!). If you’re working a part-time, or project based role- it’s even more important to gain a sense of the expected working hours, and deadlines…since you may be juggling multiple at the same time.

What about Legal?

Interviewing for remote-based legal jobs may have seemed like a long-off dream years ago, but the remote-based legal job market has been flourishing as of late. Legal remote hires often happen at a quicker pace than the traditional process you may be familiar with. Whether the company is looking to hire someone to tackle a specific gap, or simply for additional support- be confident, personable, and ready to jump in.

Be honest about your availability and what hours you’ll be online for. Decide what your perfect work-life balance looks like, and be upfront about it. The working culture in legal can be a bit cumbersome, but if you left your Big Law position to have more flexibility, make sure to discuss that. And, if you’re interviewing for a project-based position, be ready to provide estimates on time frames. Most importantly, ask the questions you need to be 100% comfortable with remote-based work. This may be your first remote-based role in legal, and it can be strikingly different from what you’re comfortable with.

Whether you’re looking for a full-time position, part-time gigs, or project-based remote opportunities in legal, Lawtrades is here to help. We offer all the resources you need to build your perfect remote working environment, and have a generous network of amazing clients you can work with.

If you want to find out more about Lawtrades, feel free to set up a call with our amazing team here.