It’s the final step, nail this and you’ll have a summer full of experience for your CV. Make sure you get it with these vacation scheme interview tips.
Long hours of completing applications, copious amounts of coffee and the dreaded emails telling you that you have been declined will all be worth it when you finally make it to the next stage of the process, the vacation scheme interviews. These interviews can be seen as quite difficult, as more and more law firms are recruiting future trainees straight from vacation schemes. They may be even more competitive than training contract interviews, as some aspiring solicitors can have two or three vacation scheme interviews for one summer. Take a look at the following tips and advice to help you succeed in that vacation scheme interview so you can spend two weeks at the law firm you have always wanted to work for.
Prepare to Succeed
It has been said time and time again, but it is of upmost importance to do your research on the firm. The interviewers want to know why you are there in front of them and why you want to work for the firm. They do not, however, want to get the impression that you have fired off countless numbers of vacation scheme applications, merely hoping for the best. The Human Resources team and solicitors interviewing you will want to know how much you know about what the firm does. Take time when doing your research. The firm’s website is the best place for information, however think of looking elsewhere like in the Law Society Gazette, or follow legal news in broadsheet newspapers. Another good place to find out what the law firm is doing is by looking on their Twitter. Law firms are increasingly using social media to market their brand. If you follow and interact with them on Twitter, you will be able to get up-to-date information on cases or developments within the law that the law firm has contributed to. The end result of this is demonstrating to the interviewers that you have potential, and that you would make a good addition to the firm as a future trainee.
Before the interview, make sure you re-read your CV and covering letter. In addition, if you had saved your application you can also go through your answers. The worst thing to happen at a vacation scheme interview is for someone to ask about one of your answers in your application and then for you to not know about it. Bring a copy of everything, so you can re-read things on the way to interview.
Dress to Impress
A vacation scheme interview is no fashion show, however, that does not mean that you shouldn’t dress appropriately. Wear a suit or dress, no matter the circumstance. It is no coincidence that the American legal drama ‘Suits’ is named after an item of clothing. Wearing something smart can put you in the right mindset and give you confidence. Therefore, absolutely no trainers or jeans. Make sure your shirt has been ironed, and your suit well pressed. Ladies please do not wear super short skirts; it gives off the wrong impression. Clean shiny shoes would not go amiss either. Something that people may not think about are accessories and coats. Wear a smart coat and do not go too heavy with the jewellery. A simple necklace and earrings are classic, big gold chains are not.
Regardless of whether this is your first ever interview or you are already a dab hand at it, you will probably be feeling nervous. If you do not like interviews, always the best thing you can do is to prepare. Get as much practice as possible! Ask you friends, family, university careers team or lecturers to interview you. The more you practice, the less nervous you will be. Also get people to ask you a variety of interesting questions, not just the standard “why law?” Yes they will most definitely ask you that question, however you do not want your answers to seem too rehearsed. Once you are in the interview, remember to be confident and to be yourself. No one wants to work with someone who is arrogant. Interviewers are looking for someone who will fit into the firm. Also smile, lawyers are not going bite! They may do in court, however the ones interviewing you want you to succeed, so keep calm and do the best you can do.
You need to make a good impression and you need to make them remember you. Interviewers will have seen a countless number of people who are all itching for a place on the vacation scheme. A great number of law firms are recruiting future trainees straight from the vacation scheme, so you need to stand out from the crowd. If you have a good bit of work experience or you are President of the Law Society, play on that. Tell them about it, elaborate and make sure you are passionate about what you are saying.
Have a good night’s sleep and plan your route to the interview. Get there early. As Shakespeare said it is “better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” Smile and be friendly to everyone; especially the receptionist as they may give feedback on you. Breathe and go in with a smile. Believe in yourself; you can do it. Good luck!