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What a legal professional should never say during an interview

Searching for your next legal job can undoubtedly be tough.  From preparing your CV, to drafting covering letters and researching law firms to approach, it is a stressful process on top of your daily job.

After much hard work and preparation along the way the interview for the job of your dreams is finally here and all you have to now do is impress the interviewer, so don’t fall at the final hurdle.  With the right preparation and approach an interview can boost your confidence and even be enjoyable, but one slip up can turn the interview into a nightmare scenario and ruin your chances of working for this particular partner, team or even law firm again.  There are many things you shouldn’t say during an interview for a legal job, here’s just a few things not to.

When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions for them, the golden rule is to have some prepared.  Saying no shows a lack of interest in the law firm or company.  Prepare at least five questions to ask about the law firm, team or opportunity, so even if all your questions are answered naturally during the interview, you have others to fall back on.  This is NOT the time to ask about salary or benefits though.  As a rule, don’t ask about money during an interview – ask your recruitment agency for advice prior to the interview, or wait for the interviewer to open up the subject.  Raising the question of wages, salaries and benefits yourself makes it seem as if all you are after is money and is a definite no if you want to impress.

Remember that an interview is a formal setting.  It is an opportunity for an interviewer to find out about you – your experience, talents, goals, aspirations and personality.  Presenting yourself professionally is crucial.  An interview, for a law job or any other role, is not a casual conversation with friends.  You need to show you are there to find out as much as possible about the partner, firm and team, and to prove you are serious and the right person for the job.  Be friendly and polite, but don’t come across as overly familiar or casual during the interview.  Wear a suit, be clean shaven, arrive on time and show respect.

Don’t tell the interviewer your life story.  A common question at interview is for the interviewer to ask you to tell them a little about yourself.  This can mean where you were brought up, what you have accomplished and where you have worked.  It can also include a little about interests outside work, hobbies and extra curricular achievements.  Don’t dwell on these things though.  At a recent interview one candidate became so interested in talking about himself that the partners became bored and the interview lost focus.  Be succinct and don’t bring up personal problems or disagreements with a previous boss or firm – this can create a negative vibe and take the attention away from your strengths and the positives you have to offer.

With any interview, legal or non legal, the key is preparation, preparation, preparation…you only have one hour to sell yourself during an interview, so don’t fall at the final hurdle by making silly mistakes.

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