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How to prepare for an interview in the legal sector
10th March 2014
Few sectors are as competitive as the legal sector, particularly in the City. With sometimes hundreds of candidates going for the same job there can be a huge amount of pressure when it comes to the interview process, so how do you stand out?
Yes, the legal sector is an immensely competitive industry, and that doesn’t stop once you’re in, with many constantly striving to get ahead, but it is also one that can be hugely rewarding with great financial benefits. To give yourself the greatest possible chance of attaining the job of your dreams, ensure you are working with one of the leading legal recruitment agencies in London who will help you find the best opportunities out there and have a read of this guide to brush up on interview questions and techniques.
When it comes to interview tips the main thing to remember is that interviewers are just people and that they are looking for someone who can fill the job vacancy to the best of their ability. If you can convey that you are passionate and have the ability to be the best candidate for that particular role, the interview will be a success; it is only when nerves kick in to an extent that could impact on your professionalism that an interview can go badly. Generally, the best way of preparing for an interview is to think about the questions beforehand and let your capabilities shine through. Nerves can be a good thing, as they can show that you care about the position - just try not to let them get the better of you and hold you back.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you have prepared or believe you are right for the role, as there can just be someone who is better suited for the position - it may be a cliché but if you have tried your best, there is nothing more you can do except learn from the experience.
When it comes to the interview itself ensure you are punctual: try to aim to be five to 10 minutes early, but no earlier. Also, remember that employers were once in your situation so try to let your personality shine through. If they have a candidate they can identify with, you can make yourself more memorable and they can better see you as a good fit for the office environment.
How to prepare for an interview
The more prepared you are the less nervous you will be which will reflect well in the interview. One of the best ways to prepare is to research the firm. Interview questions will undoubtedly cover what you know about the firm and the job position you are going for so don’t be caught out. This also shows that you care enough about the position to do your homework and will give the impression that you will give this degree of dedication to the role should you be offered the position.
Ensure you have laid out your clothes and CV the night before so you are not in a rush that can make you late and cause nerves, and try to remember that body language is important. Walking through the door smiling and enthusiastic is always a good first impression to make and if you are dressed smartly and seem attentive and interested they are more likely to give you a chance - so practice body language in a mirror before the interview itself. All law careers have their own specifications so revise the job specification listed in the job advert and note down your own personal qualities that match each aspect with an example of where you have demonstrated this quality; if you can do this, you can demonstrate that you are perfect for the role.
Another good method of preparation alongside knowing the company and its history well is to prepare for the interview questions. It doesn’t matter what type of role you are going for, whether it is in-house legal or a locum solicitor job, interview questions tend be based around the ‘why should I employ you?’ area, so bear this in mind with all of your answers. By preparing answers to the following questions you are more likely to make the intended impression on your interviewer, so jot down some rough answers to them beforehand.
- What drew you to the legal profession?
- Why do you want to work at this firm?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- What can you bring to the role?
- What is the most difficult problem you have had to deal with in the past and how did you overcome it?
- Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
- Why did you leave/are you leaving your last role?
These are just some of the most commonly asked interview questions, and while you obviously can’t prepare for every eventuality, it helps to know the basics. If you have the best and the most original answer for the questions that interviewers ask most, this can make you memorable and can show the interviewer what you have to offer that is different to any other candidate.
Once they have asked the interview questions it is now your turn. Always try to prepare a couple of questions to ask at the end, as this can show your enthusiasm for the role and also offers another chance for the panel to see your personality and what it is in particular that drew you to the position. Good topics include the future of the firm and what their goals are, career development opportunities and the interview process, and what happens next.
Try not to overthink the interview and just assess what went well and what didn’t go so well for future reference but ensure you don’t dwell on it.
If you are rejected, it may not hurt to email the company in question for feedback- this shows you genuinely cared about the position and could put you in good stead to get another interview with the firm in the future.
Image Credits: TATSIANAMA, BlueSkyImage (shutterstock.com)