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Searching for your next legal role can take time. From preparing your CV, to researching law firms and speaking to recruitment consultants, it can be tough to fit in during your day job. However submitting even the perfect CV for a role in a busy market does not guarantee securing the role. Don’t sit back and think your job is done as there will undoubtedly be other candidates ready to impress at interview snapping at your heels. Preparation is key, right up until an offer is made and deal finalised. A few recent instances of potentially good interviews turned bad have highlighted this more than ever.
My first advice is to remember that an interview is a formal setting and presenting yourself professionally is key. Sounds obvious, but be smart, punctual and show respect. In a busy market when a candidate has good experience for the role, many can become lazy and think they have secured the role before walking through the door – this is never the case. You need to show you are there to find out as much as possible about the partners interviewing, team and firm, to prove you are serious. As well as knowing your CV, make sure you have done your research and can talk credibly about why you want to work for this particular team. Also take the chance to ask questions – have some prepared even if you think you know everything, as saying nothing shows a lack of interest. Prepare at least three questions to ask about the firm, team or opportunity, so even if all your questions are answered naturally during the interview, you have others to fall back on. The caveat being to avoid asking about salary or benefits – leave this to your recruitment consultant, it’s far better to show you are interested in the role on offer than salary or package available. This can be discussed later when an offer is made and negotiated on your behalf.
Enthusiasm is key. Showing enthusiasm and commitment for a role without coming across as too much is a difficult balance to strike, but essential. Recent feedback on a candidate with exceptional experience for a role they were interviewing for, was that they just didn’t feel that the individual wanted the role enough. There was no energy, enthusiasm or spark conveyed at interview, so the firm instead recruited a candidate with less experience but who showed they would work incredibly hard to bring their experience up to speed and develop quickly. They simply showed they cared and wanted the role more. Try to achieve this balance without coming across as arrogant or over confident, tricky but if achieved is the key to success.
Desperation is another turn off. Be succinct during interviews and don’t bring up personal problems including depression or disagreements with a previous supervisor or firm – this can create a negative vibe and take the attention away from your strengths and the positives you have to offer. Always focus on your positive attributes and interest in the role you are interviewing for, not problems elsewhere at work or home. This advice continues post interview. Use your recruitment consultant as a buffer but never let the firm show if you are desperate or have no alternatives. Patience will go a long way, processes can take time – especially when partners are busy, but rest assured that if you’ve done everything you could have at interview they will be in touch with positive news.
So with the right preparation and approach an interview can boost your confidence and be enjoyable. However, it’s your one and only chance to sell yourself, one slip up can ruin your chances of working for this particular interviewer, team or firm again. Be professional and above all be prepared – don’t fall at the final hurdle by making silly mistakes.