Interviewing for a position in a law firm can be nerve-wracking to say the least. With years of hard work behind you it’s funny that an hour or so of your life could be the deciding factor of where you end up. With such high stakes involved, it’s important that you make sure you are completely prepared for whatever might be thrown your way.
Take a deep breath, get out a notepad and pen and follow the next 7 steps to ensure you make that job yours:
1) Do your research
This is actually applicable to any job you’re applying for but it’s particularly relevant for legal jobs. There’s nothing more annoying for an interviewer than speaking to someone who has no idea what the business does, what they specialize in and what they’ve done in the past.
In fact, there’s nothing more impressive to an interviewer than speaking to someone who’s ‘clued in’ to what the firm represents in terms of their goals and ambitions, as well as having a thorough knowledge of their past achievements. Most law firms these days have company pages on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin; find out what they do behind the scenes and you’ll stand out from the flock with your extensive background knowledge.
2) Practice some mock questions
In my professional life I’ve noticed a general trend in interviews: all interviewers ask the same questions, just phrased differently. Whether you’re interviewing to be a crew member at Burger King or interviewing for a top 100 law firm, they’ll most likely want to know if you’re a team player, how you cope with pressure, whether you can think on your feet, et cetera, et cetera. Preparing and rehearsing the most common interview questions will not only make you sound better but will give you more confidence on the day.
3) Dress the part
Whilst many industries these days are becoming more casual in the way they dress for work, the legal industry is still quite traditional. Dust the cob webs off your best suit, make sure your hair is neat and tidy and, try to appear as professional as possible. No law firm wants to hire the guy with scraggly unkempt hair, a week’s worth of stubble and scuffed shoes.
4) Prepare for any outcome
Before I attended my first ever interview, my dad gave me one very important piece of advice: “Expect the unexpected”, and it has stuck with me. Don’t book other appointments immediately after you expect the interview to end. Don’t assume that all the questions will be strictly law-related. Don’t expect to find somewhere to park. Prepare for every eventuality down to the tiniest detail; you are a law graduate after all.
5) Plan your route
Another thing your interviewer will find annoying is you ‘waltzing’ in 5 minutes after the agreed time. From their perspective, if you can’t even make it to your interview on time, what can they expect from you if you actually worked there? It gives them a bad impression even before the first handshake so make sure you plan your route and leave plenty of time to get there.
6) Prepare an ending question
Every interview I’ve ever had has ended with, “so have you got any questions?”
Hint: Yes, you do have a question because you’ve already prepared one!
This is your chance to showcase information you’ve picked up doing your research (right?) and demonstrate how bright and inquisitive you are. Preparing a question beforehand will act as a safety net in case you can’t think of anything on the spot. You may think of something else more fitting during the interview but it never hurts to be safe.
Preparing for an interview can be very stressful and depending on the role you’re applying for, there can be a million things that need to be taken into account. Make sure you take the time you need to relax and have fun. I know it’s easier said than done but you won’t impress anybody if you show up to your interview wound up and tired.
There they are, 7 things you should do before your law firm interview. I hope you’ve found them useful!
Remember, no matter how much is riding on you getting the job, don’t forget to be yourself. Falseness will be picked up on immediately and people tend to hire those that they get on with, it’s human nature. Don’t over, or under sell yourself and don’t claim to have experience in things you really don’t. Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality as you may find that’s what seals the deal in the end! Ultimately, don’t forget that you’re also conducting an interview as well, if the job doesn’t seem right for you, it probably isn’t. This is your future we’re talking about, after all.