I recently attended a dreaded BPTC scholarship interview, and lived to tell the tale! What follows is an outline of my experience at Lincoln’s Inn, whilst I fought tooth and nail to convince them to pay for my BPTC.
I got the train into London in plenty of time. I would recommend this, as if you’re not familiar with the big smoke, it can be pretty overwhelming finding your way around the place. I found the place I needed to go to for the interview and burned it into my memory for future reference. Again, I would recommend this as it takes out the stress of frantically searching for your interview room minutes before you start. Then, I settled myself down in the Member’s Common Room in Lincoln’s Inn itself (I am a student member and I hoped that simply being there would make me feel more like a barrister).
Then came crunch time. The inevitable ‘dead man walking’ experience as you take one step after another into the unknown. I found my way to the reception area and was signed in by the genuinely friendly Lincoln’s Inn staff. I was sat with the other wannabe barristers who had an interview in the same time slot as mine and we partook in nervous small-talk until we were picked up for the interview itself. Nothing quite compares to watching your brothers-in-arms being called off to their respective fates before a panel of senior barristers only to be the last one left, awaiting your fate. Then it was time to shine.
I was welcomed into the interview room by one of interviewers and introduced to the panel. My panel consisted of two QCs and a senior barrister. I gave them my photograph, (they asked for one from every candidate so they can remember you after the interview) accepted a glass of water and then it began.
I was asked various questions about my application. Firstly it was the standard stuff: what grades I am getting etc. Then it got more interesting. One of the interviewers asked me to talk about an interesting topic in a moot I took part in. I was then asked several follow up questions, I assume to see how good I was at thinking on my feet. If you are ever faced with this in an interview, I would recommend talking about something you have a genuine interest in. If you are discussing something that you have enjoyed learning about then you will be better at discussing it with others.
Then they asked me about various other things on my application. In hindsight, I think they were picking things that seemed weak and gauging whether I had done anything to improve it since I entered my application. (It is at least three months between submitting the application and making the interview so I would HIGHLY recommend bolstering your CV in this time) When I entered my application, I had applied for mini-pupillages but not yet got any. They asked about that in the interview. If I had had no luck getting any, I would have had to explain that and I’m sure it wouldn’t have helped. Luckily, I had squeezed two into the days before and had one the next two days.
Before I knew it, I was asked whether I had any questions for them. I cannot stress how important I think it is to ask questions when prompted. I asked something along the lines of “What do you find most challenging about being a barrister?” I did this because I think it’s important to get a good idea of the challenges of a career at the Bar so I can prepare for them. They answered the questions and I listened intently. I would highly recommend using active listening techniques like nodding and smiling.
Then it was over. I was led out of the room and was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
What I learned from the whole experience was that BPTC scholarship interviews aren’t actually that scary. Here are some brief final words to prepare you:
- Know your application. Know your weaknesses and prepare to mitigate them.
- Don’t be scared.
- It will be over before you know it.