Law School Recorded Interview Questions: How to Prepare

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made videoconferencing software ubiquitous in schools and workplaces, law schools that interview applicants were already shifting from in-person interviews toward online video interviews. Not only are video interviews more efficient to conduct, but they help level the playing field for applicants unable to meet in person.

Some law schools have taken this trend one step further by using online software to prompt interviewees with questions and then record their timed responses.

Without a live interviewer, applicants can choose a time slot that works for their schedule. The interviewee simply logs into the online system and answers a series of roughly six questions. For each question, each interviewee typically has 30 seconds to prepare and then 60 seconds to record a video response.

[READ:6 Deciding Factors in Law School Admissions]

There are a few variations. For example, Cornell Law School in New York typically asks interviewees a mix of questions, some requiring a one-minute video response and others requiring a five-minute written response.

Why Law Schools Use Recorded Video Interviews

While it may feel awkward and vaguely dystopian to talk to video recording software instead of a person, this system presents several advantages.

First, it reduces bias and subjectivity. Individual interviewers may differ in style or personality, and they may respond better to some people than others.

Second, recorded answers allow a whole admissions committee, rather than a single interviewer, to review and evaluate an applicant’s responses. Preselected questions also help to standardize the process.

How to Prepare for a Recorded Video Interview

By now, most law school applicants are likely familiar with teleconference etiquette. Take care to dress professionally, make eye contact with the camera, enunciate and smile naturally.

[READ: When to Expect a Law School Decision.]

Schedule the interview at a time that fits your schedule and your energy level. Make sure your webcam is level with your face, your internet connection is steady, your environment is quiet and well-lit, and your background is not distracting. Do your best to avoid interruptions by people or pets.

Common Recorded Interview Questions

The two most common law school interview questions are, essentially:

1. Why do you want to go to law school?

2. Why are you interested in this law school?

For the first question, spend some time thinking about how to articulate your commitment to a legal career.

For the second, be sure to ground your answer with specific offerings or attributes that excite you about a law school. Research the school’s website to learn more about its strengths.

Beyond those questions, prompts may include “behavioral questions” about how you have handled or would handle various challenges, like an unanticipated obstacle or a disagreement with a teammate. In those cases, be ready to present an anecdote about how you dealt with a similar situation.

Questions might also concern your personal qualities, goals or interests. For example, a prerecorded question might ask about your long-term career goals or what professional accomplishment you are most proud of.

Unlike a live interview, you will not have an opportunity to ask questions.

Practice Makes Perfect

It can be nerve-wracking to watch the timer count down as you stammer your way through a personal story without the reassurance of a human face. Practice recording answers to common interview questions to cultivate a sense of how long a one-minute answer is.

[READ:When and How Law Schools Use Waitlists]

Use the prep time provided to plan out your responses, to keep them on topic and coherent. It’s best to aim to complete your response in about 45 seconds to give yourself a margin of error. The video recording may ruthlessly cut you off mid-sentence!

Avoid repetition or overly scripted answers. Instead, aim for a professional but conversational tone. Be sure to squarely address the question asked, even if you end up meandering to related topics.

In the end, rest easy. Unlike a job interview, you don’t need to stand out as the absolute best candidate. Law schools accept many of the applicants they interview, and they are just looking to make sure you can present yourself professionally and think on your feet.

More from U.S. News

Law School Direct Admission: What to Know

What Rolling Admission Means for Law School Hopefuls

Law School Letter of Continued Interest: What to Know

Law School Recorded Interview Questions: How to Prepare originally appeared on usnews.com

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