Online Pupillage Interviews: Best Practice

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Some chambers conduct online interviews (particularly for the first part of their interview process). You should be prepared for this form of interview, and ready to show your best self.

Understanding the Online Interview Environment

The transition from traditional face-to-face interviews to online platforms has introduced some nuances that aspiring barristers must consider. There may be different formats you could encounter, ranging from structured mini interviews to panel interviews. The first step is to familiarise yourself with the format you will be facing. Chambers may provide this information on their websites or via email correspondence. Prepare for the interview accordingly, whether that means getting ready for rapid transitions between virtual MMI stations or a longer, semi-structured panel discussion. The questions may vary in a semi-structured or unstructured format, so ensure you are adaptable and prepared for a variety of inquiries.

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Technical Setup and Software Familiarity

Zoom and Microsoft Teams are commonly used platforms. It’s essential to acquaint yourself with the specific software you will be using well before the interview. Download the necessary apps or plugins, run some test meetings to familiarise yourself with the interface, and ensure that your hardware is compatible and functional. Some chambers might require you to submit identification digitally beforehand, so have all your required documents ready and accessible.

Presentation and Body Language in a Virtual Setting

You should make sure your setup at home is professional and conducive for an interview. Choose a neutral backdrop and good lighting to present yourself well. Your webcam and microphone should be tested beforehand to avoid technical hitches. In a virtual setting, small details such as where you’re looking can make a significant impact. When speaking, look directly into the webcam rather than at the screen to give the impression of eye contact. Adjust your tone, pitch, and speed, considering there might be a slight time-lag, and ensure to pause slightly before answering to ensure all dialogue is heard.

Dress Code and Appearance

Even though the interview is taking place online, your appearance should still conform to the same professional standards expected in an in-person interview. Make sure to wear appropriate interview attire, as this will not only make a strong impression but also mentally prepare you for the interview. If your interview is going to involve any documentation, have it all ready and within arm’s reach. Avoid wearing flashy jewellery or distracting accessories that can divert attention from the dialogue.

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The Interview Process and Timing

Time management is critical, both in terms of arriving punctually for the online interview and in the allocation of time during the interview itself. Join the virtual waiting room a few minutes early to iron out any last-minute technical glitches and acclimate yourself to the online environment. When answering questions, be mindful of the time constraints; if it’s an MMI, each mini-interview will have a strict time limit. If it’s a panel interview, remember that they have allocated a specific amount of time for you, so answers should be concise yet comprehensive. Familiarise yourself with the schedule in advance; if you are informed about the length of the interview or the number of questions, it helps you to modulate your responses better.

Dealing with Technical Glitches

Technical problems can happen despite the best preparations. How you handle these glitches can say a lot about your problem-solving and crisis management skills. If your internet connection is lost or the audio malfunctions, stay calm, reconnect as quickly as possible and apologise for the inconvenience. Have backup options ready: for instance, make sure your phone is fully charged and has the necessary apps installed in case your computer fails. This readiness can demonstrate your problem-solving skills and your ability to adapt to unforeseen challenges.

Correct Use of Mock Interviews

An essential part of your preparation should be practising through mock interviews, ideally in the online format your chamber uses. This will not only help you become comfortable with the technology but also enable you to refine your answers and improve your delivery. Make it a point to schedule at least two mock interviews before the actual event, using the same software as the chambers.

Post-Interview Etiquette

After the interview, it’s good practice to send a thank-you email to your interviewers, reiterating your interest in the chamber and thanking them for considering your application. Take some time to reflect on your performance as well, identifying areas for improvement for future interviews.

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