It's the top of the world as we all know it (so we're speaking about zoom)

Almost everyone, including me, who has spent a lot of time at every level of competition policy debates, be it high school or college, is likely to have a weakness for REM’s 1987 song “It’s the End of the World,” the way we do know (and I’m fine). “This niche popularity is based on the almost certainly apocryphal rumor that the lyrics were inspired after a member of the band went through a few rounds at a high school debate tournament. The connection would make sense because the cavalry of horrors by Michael Stipe in one Dream speaks, which can best be described as a verbal fever dream, similar in text and tempo to what you can hear in the “tournament of lies” in high school and college campus every weekend.

Unfortunately, what used to be reserved for tired students and college old rock bands is now on the front page or, for most people, in the app version of every newspaper in the country. A look at the general state of affairs in the United States at the middle of 2020 raises the question of whether we are actually all a portrait hidden in a locked room and the sins of an outdated and outwardly happy alternative in the United States records. The murder of another African American, George Floyd, by the Minneapolis police, or in this case by the Minneapolis police knees, has sparked the biggest public protests in the last half century of American history. In fact, these protests against racial injustice and police killings have spread all over the world, with the clear message that unfortunately is ignored by part of the population – Black Lives Matter.

In addition, Americans are suffering from the worst economy since the Great Depression. Unemployment is expected to remain at a high level for the foreseeable future. And so that we don’t forget, as many Americans seem to have done, there is COVID-19, which kills hundreds of Americans every day.

At the beginning of this year I mentioned to a colleague that my topic for 2020 was: “It will only get worse.” The forecast is usually not my strength, see e.g. For example, the 2016 presidential election and every NCAA Men’s & # 39; s College basketball clip that I have graduated from elementary school where I have Kansas as a later national champion – I turned out to be more forward-looking in 2008 although there were six in 2020 Months, I think I might have thrown it out of the park.

It also doesn’t seem like I’m alone in my pessimism, as “It’s the end of the world as we know it” is again listed in the iTunes and Billboard Top 100. Given these extraordinary times, is this obviously the point of talking about zoom? Yes, the discussion about the intricacies of a video conferencing platform seems a bit out of place when the world is on fire, both figuratively and literally. Given that COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be resolving due to collective boredom, we’re all going to zoom in for the foreseeable future.

Like many failed media experiments, I recently turned to the video and recorded some tips for zoom interviews for Vanderbilt law students. Only those enrolled in VLS will have the rare opportunity to see me in a buttoned shirt in 2020, but I can give Above the Law readers some tips that will hopefully help you get your next zoom -Interview highlight.

The ubiquity of zoom in our pandemic era is so great that no less an authority than the legendary fashion designer Tom Ford used the pages of the New York Times to give tips on how to look best on a computer screen. These historical books that you promised to finally reach during quarantine – but instead played 30 Rock on Peacock – are great for lifting a laptop so the webcam is higher than your head and can be pointed at your eyes. Ford also noted that lighting is key. Therefore, a lamp in the background or even a selfie light attached to the computer is vital to ensure that you can be seen during your interview. A bit of face powder was the last suggestion, but I would say only follow this advice if you know what you’re doing. Legal employers are looking for future lawyers, not amateur clowns.

Surprisingly, the fashion designer didn’t discuss what people should wear when making zoom calls. Simply put, dress for a video interview much like a face-to-face interview. This means not only the part that is visible on the screen, but also the right clothing from head to toe. Although I can understand the desire to combine a shirt and tie with mesh shorts, employers are known to ask candidates to stand up during video interviews to ensure they are dressed so that the interview is taken seriously. Even if an employer doesn’t engage in an admittedly bizarre ritual, there’s a good chance you’ll have to get up in the middle of the interview to see your entire outfit. I have to use both hands to count the number of times I have had to stand up during a zoom meeting since inserting COVID-19 to take in / care for / handle one of my children.

While personal clothing is important for a zoom interview, it is equally important to be clear about what the rest of the camera will look like for the interviewer. In the absence of sporting events, assessing the zoom backdrops of total strangers appearing on television has become a major American pastime. Ideally, strive for a professional look that is a little more personal than a typical waiting room in a doctor’s office, being careful not to go too far in the opposite direction. Trying to secure long-term employment is not the time to provide pictures of your trip to Niagara Falls as a virtual background. Also, avoid the hostage video look, as it is difficult for an employer to determine if they want to hire a candidate if the interviewer spends the entire zoom call recognizing whether secret messages are being hidden in the hopes of the Liberation.

For the interview itself, eye contact is critical in an actual interview, and so is an interview with Zoom. However, keep in mind that your webcam is not directly on the face of your interviewer. Find out where your webcam is and direct your gaze there when you answer questions. Next, use the mute button liberally. Do not turn on your audio when you first connect it and only leave it on when you are speaking. You don’t have to expose your interviewer to your neighbor’s lawn mower or other background noise. Although the mute button should be used frequently, this does not apply to your video option. Avoid turning your video off unless absolutely necessary and notify your interviewer if you need to turn it off for a moment.

While every in-the-webcam frame is visible to your interviewer, it doesn’t include everything in the room. Take advantage of this and have some notes right off the screen that you can refer to. The notes can be as basic as some facts about your interviewer or how to pronounce the employer’s name. In a typical interview, you may be taking notes, and since you are in front of your computer, the natural instinct is to want to add some notes as the conversation progresses. Avoid this instinct. The sound of your input is likely to be picked up by your microphone, and these staccato keystrokes can be remarkably distracting. Opt for the proven paper-and-pen method.

Treat the consequences of a zoom interview like a personal interview. Many thanks to those who took the time to meet with you, even if they did not speak during the video conference.

Look, I understand. Things are pretty bleak at the moment. Everyone hurts. Adapting to the Zoom interview etiquette can literally be the least important thing in the world right now. But since American official policy on COVID-19 appears to simply give up doing something about it, Zoom will play a massive role in the job prospects for the law courses of 2021, 2022, and maybe even 2023. They have musical talent and can be a college Find a rock band that you can join before they become meteoric rock stars. It’s probably worth perfecting your video interview technique.

Nicholas Alexiou is the director of LL.M. and alumni counseling and associate director of career services at Vanderbilt University Law School. Hopefully he will respond to your emails at

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