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The legal job interview — Tips to make the most of it

The interview is your chance to shine. So make sure it doesn’t become a missed opportunity. All it takes is a little preparation – and you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes. After all, no matter how witty, bright and suited to the job you are, if you haven’t done your homework no-one will be impressed.Most interviews last about an hour – and while there may be a panel of interviewers, for a first meeting it’s more likely to be one or two.

Know where you're going

It may sound simple, but make sure you know exactly where the interview is. Allow at least an extra 10 minutes’ travelling time – if you’re early you can always ask the receptionist to announce your arrival later. Leave time to read the file of press cuttings many law firms have in their reception if you can too. It’s also a good idea to chat to the receptionist – ask her how long she’s been there and what she thinks of it. The Partners might well ask what she thought of you before or after your interview.

Find out as much as you can

Always check the job title and the full names of the interviewers before the meeting, and also of your main point of contact (if they’re not one of the interviewers).

A little extra research goes a long way too. The firm’s own website will tell you about their work and clients, and many have archive sections which can help with much of the background. Use the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners websites to look into specialist areas of law, recommended individuals at the firm and the percentage split of work across the practice, as well as competitors and recent updates. The week before your interview, also check the trade press – The Lawyer, Legal Week and the Law Society Gazette and any business related journals – for the latest information.

And of course, if you know anyone that currently works there make sure you speak to them if possible.

Make an impression

Appearance is important – smart suit, polished shoes – and carry any bags or files in your left hand leaving your right free for a firm handshake. Take a copy of your CV to the meeting and read through it beforehand so you’re ready to answer questions on it, especially any particular areas of law you’ve shown knowledge of. Also, use your interests and hobbies section to develop a rapport when you’re asked about them. (You’ll find useful tips of how to put your CV together here).

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