How to impress in a face-to-face interview
28th September 2015
Despite the advancements in technology and social media such as Skype, the traditional face-to-face interview is still the most common way employers conduct interviews. Face-to-face interviews are also more advantageous for candidates than a Skype interview or a phone interview, as candidates have more opportunities to impress the interviewer.
The only downside is that face-to-face interviews can be a nerve-racking experience. As an interviewee you don’t want to accidentally say the wrong thing because of the high pressure of the situation.
To help you along the way we have compiled a list of tips to help you nail a face-to-face interview and get that dream lawyer job you have always wanted.
The old saying that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” could not be more true when it comes to a face-to-face interview.
It is vital that you check you have everything you need for the interview a few days before your interview, for example, a printed copy of your CV. If you are changing jobs you should think of an answer as to why you are quitting your current role, as a question about this subject is highly likely to crop up.
It is also worth thinking about what other questions you could be asked and to then jot down some potential answers.
Buy some new attire
In a face-to-face interview you need to dress to impress and for interviewees that could well mean either buying a new suit for men, or a new dress/trousers and jacket for women.
Stowers are classic and modern Savile Row tailors who create suits perfect for every occasion; including interviews.
Ray Stowers, the Director and Co-Founder of Stowers, shares some advice about the types of suits lawyers should consider buying.
He says, “Never underestimate the importance in business of a good fitting suit.
“If you wear a suit every day for work then ideally you should have five suits in your wardrobe along with maybe a blazer or jacket to wear as a smart/casual option. A suit should be worn once or possibly twice per week depending on the individual, the suits will last a lot longer and have time to recover.
“Always buy classic style suits for work as they won't go in or out of fashion. Never a modern or over fitted suit, after all it is your working ‘uniform’ and you are a representative of your employers.
“Also buy a classic good pair of shoes that are polished and well kept. Good shoes will complement and enhance your appearance and complete your outfit, shoes should be an accessory and not just a necessity. The wrong shoes will ruin even the most expensive suit.
“As Polonius said in Shakespeare’s Hamlet ‘spend all you can afford on clothes, but make sure they're quality, not flashy, since clothes make the man’.”
To find out more about the Stowers experience check out the video below.
According to an article on the Guardian, female lawyers have a choice of trousers or a skirt. If women opt for wearing a skirt, then the general rule is that the hemline should not be more than a biro length above the knee.
Sticking to black, navy or brown skirts or trousers is best, but if your interview is in the summer, then lighter plain colours are worth considering.
This article about the suit to match the lawyer also shares some other useful information about buying a suit.
It is also worth considering choosing some accessories to go alongside your new outfit, such as jewellery, belts, watches and cufflinks.
Be on time
Make sure that you are not late to your face-to-face interview. Being late is definitely out of the question as it looks bad to any potential employers.
Candidates should not arrive too early either as sometimes it indicates how unoccupied you are. Getting to an interview 10 minutes before is perfect.
Speak with confidence
Diane Windingland, the owner of the Virtual Speech Coach blog and author of 12 Ways to Be a Confident Speaker, has shared some tips that candidates can take into their interview, especially if the interviewee has been asked to do a presentation.
1. Be passionate. Speak on something you are passionate about. If you don’t care, why should anyone else? Also, if you are passionate about something, people are much more forgiving of “imperfections” in speaking. And, frankly, you will probably care less about being perfect.
2. Focus on the audience. A lack of confidence often means that you are thinking about yourself.
3. Know your material. Confidence may be more important than knowledge, but knowing your material will give you credibility and even more confidence! Plus, if you are passionate about a subject, you probably already know a lot!
4. Practice AND rehearse.
5. Stand and move with power and purpose. If candidates have to present something during an interview then Diane says “Stand tall. Don’t sway, cross your legs, or pace. Set your feet about shoulder width apart (one foot slightly in front of the other for stability) and then only move from that position on purpose. Gesture naturally, leaving your arms at your side when not gesturing.”
6. Smile. Give your audience the “I really like you smile” before you even start, and then beam your smile during appropriate parts. Smiling at your audience will relax them and you!
7. Project your voice, imagine speaking from your belly button. You want to speak conversationally, but likely louder. Speaking a little more loudly will make you feel more confident and make it easier for your audience to hear you.
8. Plan for worst-case scenarios. Imagine the worst things that might logically happen and decide how you will deal with them if they do happen.
Highlight your strong areas
During the interview candidates need to highlight their achievements, even if you feel that you are repeating yourself.
Unless you are asked, you should not mention your weaknesses, but if you are questioned about this then answer the question truthfully without giving them a huge list.
Listen to the interviewer’s questions
Too often candidates don’t listen to the questions they are being asked or interrupt the interviewer. This is something to definitely avoid and candidates should instead keep quiet until the interviewer has finished asking their question.
Ask your own questions
At the end of the interview do not be afraid to ask some questions of your own. Good questions to ask would be about the next steps of the interview, or some questions about the company or the role. These all demonstrate that you are really interested in the job.
Even if the role is for a temporary or interim legal job, you should ask questions about the role and the length of the contract if this has not been discussed.
Image Credit: Stowers, Diane Windingland, Benson Kua (flickr.com), EDHAR (Shutterstock)