Articles From the Team

NQ Interviews – how confident should you be of your ability to do the job?

Job interviews for newly qualified solicitor roles are a very different beast from the ones you attended when you were gunning for a training contract. Back then, it was all about your academic prowess and how to demonstrate your potential and aptitude for being a lawyer, unless of course you’d got some particularly relevant paralegal experience under your belt.

Fast forward a few years and qualification is just round the corner and you find yourself back in the interviewee’s chair trying to bag your first qualified role, where you’ll be practising as a real life bona fide qualified lawyer.  ‘Practising’ being the operative word because, let’s be honest, we don’t turn from trainee solicitors into competent confident lawyers overnight, with the flick of a switch.

So what’s the best way to approach talking about your experience and why you’re the perfect person for the role when your experience essentially amounts to a 6-month seat?

It’s about self-awareness and it’s about balance...

What you’re trying to convey to the interviewer is that you’ve developed some skills and knowledge in this area, that you have a reasonable grounding from which to build expertise, and that you are confident getting on with certain tasks without supervision, but that you are aware of where you currently stand in your ‘learning journey’, and you know when you need to ask for input.

Here’s a few ways to do this:

  • Know your CV inside out and be able to talk in depth about the involvement you’ve had in the matters you’ve worked on
  • Talk about the work that you’ve genuinely enjoyed and why
  • Talk about the kinds of work you may have been exposed to multiple times and would feel confident getting on with
  • Be prepared to admit the aspects of matters that you would have liked to have had more involvement in, so that you can show that you know what your current knowledge gaps are
  • Identify what you want to / need to learn next in order to further develop your skills in these areas
  •  Identify what you are doing yourself to help build those skills, be that reading up on the relevant legislation, reading up on recent case law, asking to attend client meetings with your supervisor, asking for more of this kind of work
  • Identify what training needs you have that requires input by way of training courses and one-to-one mentoring
  • Talk about any networking groups that you’re involved with that are relevant to this practice area
  •  Demonstrate that you are taking as much personal responsibility as you can for your professional development
  • Talk about recent developments in the law that particularly interest you to demonstrate your genuine desire to develop expertise in this area

Basically the balance you want to strike is ‘I am not a wallflower who requires input for every single task I am given to do, but neither am I a loose cannon who thinks they know everything and who’s going to go off on a jolly of their own and endanger your client relationships’.

Nobody goes to bed one night a trainee solicitor and then wakes up the next morning a fully formed competent solicitor, but the best NQ interviewees are the ones who can demonstrate that they know how they’re going to get there.

At BCL Legal, we provide as much interviewing coaching as you need, for every interview that we arrange on your behalf. We have literally hundreds of years of recruitment and legal experience between us, and I doubt there’s an interview pitfall we haven’t encountered at some point along the way. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you with your NQ job search, please get in touch.

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