Impressing at the Interview
Interviews can be stressful but the best way to allay interview fears is to prepare.
Before the interview consider the following:
- How did you come to specialise in this area of law?
- What type of firm do you want to work in? commercial firm, a specialist or full service firm or a high street firm?
- What interests you about this opportunity?
- What can you offer the firm?
You should find out as much as you can about the firm before you arrive. The legal sector is renowned for the amount of information that is available online so visit their page and information gather. Doing this will help you get a feeling of the ethos of the firm, what they’re about and where they have come from. Do their goals align with yours? What sectors do they operate in and how do they sell themselves to their clients?
Prior to the interview we will give you as much information as possible, for example It is essential to research who you will be meeting. You can use the Law Society ( http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ ) to find out when they qualified and what their specialist areas of practice are.
That research should also include knowledge of who their competitors are, all of this helps the interviewer build a positive impression of you. The purpose of your preparation is to ensure you are making the right choice, and can be confident at interview.
Typical interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why did you decide on a career in law?
- What do you consider your strengths/weaknesses?
- Why do you want this job?
- What are your main achievements to date?
- Have you ever had a position of responsibility?
- How do you manage your time?
- How well do you work under pressure?
- Give examples.Where do you expect to be in five years' time?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What do you know about this company?
- Are you flexible to move/travel?
- Are you applying for other jobs?
- Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a personality conflict with a colleague.
- Tell me about a time you handled a stressful situation well.
- Tell me about a time you built a rapport with a difficult person.
- Describe a time when you worked with a colleague to finish a project on time.
- Give an example of a time when you showed initiative.
- What's the biggest challenge you've ever had?
- Give me an example of a time when you were particularly creative in solving a problem.
- How would you go about generating business for the firm?
- What's your view on? (current affairs question)
- Have you any questions to ask me?
Essentially these questions are designed to test a few core competencies such as: your drive and initiative, influencing skills, personal qualities, analytical skills, flexibility, technical skills and your organisational skills.
Some of the above are going to be more difficult to answer than others. For example the question “tell me about yourself” is open ended so your answer needs to be concise, ideally you would give a brief overview of your career to date, talk about your recent experiences and any major achievements, it’s also acceptable to ask them if they would like you to expand on anything in further detail.
The question "Why do you want to work for us” is a very common (and important!) one; and is something you should have thought about in your preparation. Think about what the firm stands for, what values it has and what their vision is? Ideally these should match your own personal values. When preparing this think about their reputation, history, vision and the career development opportunities. Try to emphasise what you can do for them should you be offered the opportunity.
At the interview
Remember that the profession you have chosen involves a good deal of client contact and the solicitor/client relationship requires the client to place their complete confidence in the solicitor.
You must put an interviewer at ease and convince him/her of your professionalism to give them the confidence you can manage their clients.
Areas the interviewer will note at interview:
- Your appearance - ‘business smart’ is essential at any interview.
- Whether you are a serious, committed candidate.
- The sort of temperament/personality you reveal.
- Whether you are articulate and able to think on your feet.
- How you will get on with the rest of their staff.
- Whether you would fit in to their particular organisational structure and culture.
- Whether your responses correspond or conflict with those on your CV or application form.
- Whether you use your initiative.
- Whether you display intellectual, analytical and reasoning ability.
- Your attitude to working alone or under supervision.
- How you seem able to cope with pressure and deadlines.
- Whether you are organised and able to manage your time.
- How self-aware you are.
- Whether you have a sense of humour.
- Dress smart.
- Walk through the door smiling, make eye contact with your interviewer(s), and offer a firm handshake.
- Sit upright. Leaning slightly forward indicates interest and engagement. Also hold you hands together - this stops you fidgeting and also appears attentive and interested.
- If there is more than one interviewer present then try to address your answers equally to each of those present.
- Do not let your eyes wander around the room to avoid appearing uninterested and disrespectful. Be succinct and to the point whilst also ensuring you sell yourself.
- Do not attempt to fill silences while the interviewer is looking at your CV or a list of questions in front of them.
- Listen carefully to the questions you are asked in their entirety and answer them precisely. Remember that this is what your clients will expect of you as a solicitor. Remember to adapt your pre-prepared answers to the precise question asked.
- If you do not understand something you are asked or told, ask your interviewer(s) to explain.
- Feel free to ask a couple of questions yourself, and think about them in advance.
- Thank your interviewer(s) for seeing you, shake hands and smile. Remember to say goodbye.
At the end of the interview, the interviewer will commonly ask if you have any questions. This is a good opportunity for you to show off your interest in the job and the firm. Avoid asking questions that have been answered for you in the course of the interview. Do not ask anything you should already know from details they have sent you, or about salary, holidays, etc.
Good topics to ask about are:
- The organisation - strategic goals, challenges they are facing, why do the interviewer(s) enjoy working there, most significant recent developments in the firm/organisation, etc
- The working conditions - opportunities, career development, how is performance evaluated, etc
- The process - what happens next, have they seen any other candidates for the role?
After the interview
Call us with your interview feedback, it is essential that we have your thoughts before we speak to the client.
- Think about what you have learned and your impressions of the employer. The interview is your opportunity to decide if you want to work for them.
- Reflect on the interview. Make a note of the questions they asked. Were you satisfied with your answers, or could you do better next time? If there is anything that you think of subsequently please do let us know as we can discuss this with the client.