Preparing For An Online Interview

Preparing For An Online Interview

It is now highly likely that any interview you are asked to attend in the next coming weeks will be conducted online ‘face-to-face’ on your laptop or PC as a virtual interview. Whilst this may feel a bit daunting, by following these few tips you can ensure your interview is as successful online as if you were there in person with the hiring manager.

As always, make sure you know who you will be interviewing with and do your research on them using the company website and LinkedIn and any other information you can find on your Google search. Your recruitment consultant at Thornton Legal will also be able to help of course.

The important things to bear in mind mostly revolve around technology and how you present yourself in front of your computer screen

Test Your Technology

The minute you agree to a virtual interview, test your technology to ensure you’re set up for success. Check your internet connectivity, and confirm your camera and microphone are working.

Perhaps a dummy run with your consultant may be sensible.

Make sure you are familiar with the App you will be using, have downloaded it if necessary and have the conference ID number so that you can join the video conference.

On the day of the interview, test your equipment and internet connection again, after all being technically savvy is one of the top 10 traits employers are looking for. By fumbling around with your audio or lighting during the call, you give the hiring manager a reason to question whether you’re the right candidate for the job.

Dress the Part

Put the same effort into dressing the part as you would do in a regular face-to-face interview. Dress as you would for an in-person interview. And choose clothes that complement your desired background.

Professional clothing will show you’re serious about the position, but there are other benefits as well: Studies show that people feel “most authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire.

Set the Scene and Minimise Distractions

While testing your technology, determine where the interview will take place. You are aiming to create a setting with no distractions, so avoid family members (especially little people and pets) coming in in the middle of the interview.

Put yourself in front of a blank background with no posters, cuddly toys or anything that would shift the interview’s focus away from you. A minimalistic background sets a professional tone and makes it easier for the interviewer to concentrate on you.

Find a room with optimal lighting, preferably near a window or a blank wall to guarantee you’re the focal point of the conversation.

Tidy up your surroundings. It’s hard to convince employers you’re detail-oriented and organised when there’s laundry visibly piling up in the corner.

Once settled, eliminate all distractions. Turn off the TV, silence your phone(s), and close any nearby windows to muffle neighbourhood noise. 

Monitor Your Body Language

You can’t firmly shake a hiring manager’s hand or as easily exude enthusiasm via video. But what you can do is monitor your body language.

It is essential to make proper eye contact. Find a balance between looking at the screen and addressing yourself looking directly into the camera. Employers are more likely to remember what you said if you maintain eye contact, so keep your focus on the camera when talking, not on the image of the hiring manager.

Be aware of your body language by dropping your shoulders backward, sitting up straight and behaving like you are in a face-to-face interview. Also do not forget to smile and make confirming nodding gestures to demonstrate your engagement with the interviewers. Give the interviewer time to speak and be careful not to talk over them as perceptions of space may be altered across a screen. This will make you appear aware of others and demonstrate your communication proficiencies.

If you have a habit of using your hands to gesticulate, you may want to consider sitting on them as hand gestures will be amplified in front of a screen and will distract the interviewer from what you are saying.

So, to re-cap: The main way to communicate confidence is to sit up straight, smile, and keep the camera at eye level.

Sit Down Prepared

As with any interview make sure you are prepared in advance. Avoid the temptation to search the web for answers mid-interview, so avoid clicking around. You want to appear focused and ready to answer any questions without the help of the internet.

Research the company ahead of time and jot down notes for easy reference. Also print out a copy of your CV, so that you don’t forget key talking points.

It’s also best to come prepared with answers to common interview questions, such as:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your most significant accomplishments?
  • Why do you want to join us?
  • How would you go about generating business for the firm?

Avoid memorising each response, so you don’t sound overly rehearsed. Instead, write some high-level thoughts down on Post-it Notes that you can stick to your computer.

You should also be prepared to answer, “Do you have any questions for me?” Interview questions you might ask an employer include:

  • What makes someone successful in this role?
  • How do you evaluate employee performance?
  • How would you describe the work culture/environment?
  • How is the legal department structured within the company?
  • Where do you think the firm is headed in the next 5 years?
  • What are the biggest opportunities and/or challenges facing the department right now?
  • What do you enjoy about working here?
  • What are the next steps?


If you are inexperienced with interviews have a practice round with your Thornton Legal consultant, friend or family member. If they are isolating at home, this will also give you an opportunity to try out your virtual interview technique, get your background arranged and become familiar with talking to a screen.

Make a Connection

It is important to stand out from other candidates and to be memorable. Research your interviewer(s) find some common ground to talk about. Often asking them a question about themselves is a good way to break the ice and get them and you relaxed. Perhaps you can ask them about the type of clients they act for, what sort of work they do, or even better if you have worked across a case with them on the other side! The interviewer(s) might enjoy a break from the routine questions they have to get through and make a connection with you. This is the best way to prevent yourself from blending in with the other applicants.

Be Yourself

An interviewer will be looking for real enthusiasm from you during the interview, primarily to determine whether you would be a good fit in the firm. This can be challenging during a virtual interview because there is a physical disconnect, so make sure you’re expressive when answering questions.

When answering questions make sure that you demonstrate how you can help a firm and bring value to the role. Create a story around your experiences and expand on answers with examples of real-life experiences you have had. This will bring out your personality and make you memorable, shine a light on you and give the interviewer a reason to invite you back for a second interview.

If you have any questions or would like a to practice using online conferencing with your recruiter at Thornton Legal, just ask. We are here to make these challenging times easier for you and be successful in gaining your next role.