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Try not to bring your negative experiences to interview

The vast majority of lawyers that I am working with - in helping them find their next career move- are looking for what I would describe as positive moves, i.e., nothing is bad where they are, it is more about looking for the next career move/ opportunity. But of course there are always a few who I am helping who have had or are having a bad experience.

I have advised lawyers, who, for example have been let go/ made redundant or have even been fired to take a bit of breathing space before entering recruitment campaigns. If you have left under a black cloud – of your making or not – it comes across at interview. I was recently contacted by a senior lawyer who is under normal circumstances a generally uplifting and positive person. Unfortunately for them the CEO of a business that he had moved to sucked the life out of him and didn’t treat him (as well as many other employees) with a lot of respect. Finding himself on the market I advised him to take a break, let some time pass and once you are able to be less subjective to what was obviously a disappointing and upsetting situation only then agree to interview.

In the same vain if you are unhappy in your current role do not focus on the negatives at interview. A recent example conveys this well. A lawyer moved from one companyto another and wasn’t happy for a number of reasons. Put simply, the role of a lawyer in her current role was very different to that of where she came from culminating in far less autonomy than she previously held, even though this was meant to be a more senior role.

When interviewing recently she listed all the points she didn’t like about her current role… in what she hoped was an open and honest way of saying – if you are like this then there is no point in me moving here, but if you agree with my way of thinking (about how legal should be delivered and the role I would like to play) then this could be a good match.

The feedback from the HR contact was pretty much “why did she focus on all the negatives of her current role – if she had just said that she was ready for a new role we would have been interested!”

My suggestion to the lawyer going forward was to try and frame the negatives in a different way.

For the lawyer looking to move,  it was all about her making sure that she doesn’t find herself in the same situation again. But for the client it came across as too negative.

Next time the lawyer simply needs to ask questions that will give her the peace of mind that this  company/ Head of legal is more in line with her thinking than the current one. In this way she could have made sure that her current issues wouldn’t be replicated again and the client would have been none the wiser of her current negative situation.

For more information contact Mark Levine at BCL Legal.

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