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Interviews – Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Forgive the above cliché but in today’s difficult job market it couldn’t be more accurate. I have been recruiting for private practice law firms in the Midlands for over 9 years. In this time I have arranged literally thousands of interviews, helped with the preparation and taken all the feedback. Generally speaking, lawyers approach the interview in the right way but that isn’t to say I haven’t seen my fair share of disasters!

Taking that into account I thought I would offer my insight into how to best approach a meeting that could fundamentally change your career:

Do your research:

There are almost too many reasons why this is vital but this is mainly about you familiarising yourself with the firm, the interviewers, and the role. Try to make sure you have had sight of a job description so you know exactly the competencies required for it and you can then demonstrate why you are the right candidate for the role. Always have a look at the firm’s website, partner profiles and clients they act for as you may be able to draw some synergies with own experience. You can also search on the legal directories and on google or linkedin. Doing this demonstrates that you are enthusiastic and genuinely interested in the role but it should also give you some confidence ahead of the meeting.

Know your CV:

Most interviews will be based around the experience that you have gained to date and this information will come to the interviewer via your CV. It’s important therefore that you know exactly what they know about you so that you are prepared to discuss it. I would recommend reading through your CV the night before or even taking a copy with you to the interview.

Invest enough time:

There is often a link between the time that you invest in preparing for the interview and the result. This is a very important meeting and you should invest your time accordingly. I tend to compare it to a very important client pitch, the more effort you put in the more likely there will be a positive result.

Prepare to be adaptable:

The solicitors that I have successfully introduced to law firms have, for the most part, been very flexible in their approach to the interview. Interviewers will be looking for fee earners who are technically competent but it is just as important that they feel that you are a strong cultural fit. This is a difficult skill to master but those who are able to adapt their approach and build rapport with those interviewing them are those who secure the opportunity.

Dress to impress:

Another cliché, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is another crucial element of the interview, you can lose the opportunity in the first 5 minutes of an interview if you don’t make a solid first impression. Interviewers will be looking at the first impression that you will make to the team and, more importantly, to clients. It would be very hard to secure a role if you turn up to an interview looking unprofessional and uninterested.

Have confidence:

It is easy to say and I do appreciate that interviews can be uncomfortable situations but try to put that out of your mind. Take confidence from the fact that you have been selected for interview, many other candidates will not have made it this far.

The interview is your opportunity to secure what could be your ideal role and so you should invest time in trying to achieve a positive result. The legal recruitment market is improving and there are more and more roles arising which should give you more opportunity to test out your interview technique.

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