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IS THAT WHAT I LOOK LIKE?!?
Videotape Offers Shock Therapy for Interview-Challenged
BY MARTHA NEIL
Sit up straight. stop drumming your fingers. If only you could see what
you look like.
Job applicants will ignore Motherís advice at their
peril; law firm interviewers are likely to notice. And they are likely to
be turned off by habits that signal inattention or a lack of
Thatís why career counselors are more often
videotaping mock job interviews to let lawyers and law students see
themselves as others see them"or, more accurately, as potential employers
"You can tell someone, ĎYouíre fidgeting.í But when they see it
themselves, it really makes an impression," says Janet Mosseri, career
director at Nova Southeastern Universityís Shepard Broad Law Center in
Fort Lauderdale. The school offers videotaped mock interviews.
"We do video feedback of practice job interviews with virtually every
lawyer who comes to us for career counseling," says Stephen Rosen. A New
York City career counselor, he heads Celia Paul Associates, an
outplacement consulting business.
When the videotape is replayed immediately after the mock interview,
clients are typically surprised to see how they present themselves, Rosen
says. Usually, he adds, clients will say something like, "Oh, my god, I
canít believe I look like that. What I am going to do?"
It isnít only bad habits, however, that videotaped interviews can help
solve. Many applicants donít understand the techniques that can transform
an interview from an interrogation into a dialogue between equals, Rosen
says. Learning those techniques is crucial, he adds. An interviewer is
more likely to hire an applicant who is easy to work with.
"No matter how good somebody is at job interviews, they always get
better by these because they get instant feedback," Rosen says of the
Florence Rostami agrees. After more than a year of sending hundreds of
resumťs and achieving only a few disappointing interviews, she heard about
a low-cost career counseling clinic that Rosen offers through the
Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
Rostami credits the clinic with helping her to win a three-month
internship with a major New York firm.
The videotaped mock interviews made her realize she had come across as
"a bit philosophical." She says she also gained a sense of how to
emphasize her abilities.
THE WINNING EDGE
Rostami prepared extensively for the internship interview and, she
adds, at several key points was able to resurrect the hiring partnerís
flagging interest"once speaking knowledgeably about a case he had worked
on, and another time pounding the desk lightly to emphasize her interest
"This is something I learned from the clinic," she says. "The more you
are in charge of an interview, the more successful you will be."
Watching oneself on videotape can also help a lawyer develop trial
skills and hone the ability to interact successfully with clients, experts
And thereís another reason job applicants need to sharpen their
on-camera skills. Some legal employers are opting to put the actual
interview on camera, considering applicants via live television hookup or
videotaped job interviews.
Mark Brickson, career director at the University of North Dakota School
of Law, says the time it takes to travel across his state can make such
interviews appealing to employers.
He cites the state supreme court as an example. Just getting from the
law school in Grand Forks, at the eastern edge of the state, to the
centrally located state capital of Bismarck, where the North Dakota
Supreme Court is headquartered, is a four-hour drive.
Even if the students could make it to their interviews, not all the
justices could, so the sessions are often videotaped, according to
"That," he says, "was the basis upon which they may have been hired."
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