Northwestern Starts Video Interviews

A video interview example from Kira Academic

A video interview example from Kira Academic

These days, Northwestern University’s School of Law seems to be innovating everywhere. Last month, the school hosted a panel that examined how to make significant curriculum shifts to keep up with a shaky legal market. And if you’ve already applied to the school for the 2016 admissions cycle, you might have noticed something new and unique.
Today (Oct. 15), the school announced they would be the first law school to offer video interviews in their admissions process. The school officially opened the video interview portal in September and a few audacious applicants have already stepped in front of the camera. To be sure, early feedback does not bode well for the camera-shy.
“Anecdotally, we have heard the questions are difficult and there is not enough time to really think of a good answer,” Northwestern School of Law Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Johann Lee said in a prepared release from the school. “However, in real life, you have less than a minute to answer similar questions. The actual responses have been quite strong thus far.”
So the school will press on until the portal is closed in March. The law school will join the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management and a slew of other business schools including Yale’s School of Management, to use Kira Academic technology for the video interview. And being out of the country or ‘unavailable’ is no longer an excuse.
“Philosophically, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to conduct an interview,” Lee said in the release. “One of the main reasons cited by applicants for not doing an interview is availability both on-campus and off. The video interview basically gives us unlimited capacity for applicants to conduct interviews at any time and location at their convenience—thereby, removing the hurdle of availability.”
While the video interviews will not be required, according to the release, Northwestern Law “strongly encourages” all applicants to participate in an interview in one form or another. Applicants still have the option to participate in traditional interviews — either on- or off-campus — with the school reporting that about half the applicant pool participated in an interview last year.
After applying, prospective students will be given the option to register for a video interview. Within 72 hours of registering, applicants will be emailed a link with further instructions. The video interview can happen anytime and anywhere, as long as there is reliable internet access and a computer with a functioning webcam and microphone.
After a one-minute introduction from Dean Daniel Rodriguez, applicants will be asked a series of six questions. In the prepared release from Northwestern, these three questions are given as examples:

  • What relationship do you see between your own failures and successes?
  • Tell me about a time when you were criticized, criticism that gave you pause and how you were able to move on with the work you needed to do.
  • Think of a teamwork situation you were in where everyone could not agree. What, if anything, did you do to facilitate better understanding of each other?

Once a question has been asked the interviewee will be given prep time and a time slot  to answer the question. In all, the interview should take about 30 to 45 minutes. Applicants have the option to take practice interviews as many times as they want, but will only have one take on the actual interview.
Unlike Northwestern’s Kellogg school, which use the video interviews in lieu of (or in addition to) essay questions, Northwestern Law will use the technology as the actual admissions interview, in addition to essays.

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