Articles From the Team

Positioning yourself for an NQ role

In our recent series of NQ talks, we sought to address a number of key areas to consider as you come up to qualification in September.

Key subject matters included a market overview of contentious, transactional and insurance disciplines, CV and Interview tips in addition to our most commonly asked questions by trainees.

In the instance of a lot of the larger firms in Manchester, jobs lists have started to emerge and trainees now need to identify where their preference lies amongst the jobs that are on offer. Unfortunately not all departments are seeking to recruit and you may find that your firm is not able to offer you a role on qualification that you want. Equally there remain firms that are, at best, tentatively looking at their requirements, but will make no decision until much later in the summer.

In either instance, it remains increasingly important to do whatever you can to stay ahead of the game.

BCL Legal as one of the largest dedicated legal recruiters outside of London and with a substantial number of years experience both within private practice and recruitment, continue to measure the pulse of the market and can provide you with an overview of which firms will be recruiting where you can seek to increase your chances of success.

Your CV

Internal processes do not often require a CV, as your experience and reviews within that will be the foundation on which you will be assessed. Looking externally is of course very different and the first thing that a recruiting firm will see about you will be the information contained within your CV. Your CV is a chance to secure an interview and as such it is imperative that you move with your best foot forward. Whilst we will always spend time discussing your CV and tailoring it to any specific firms or requirements, as a starting point, bear in mind the points below.

• Structure – keep it simple and aim to have 4 key section areas including Education, Legal Experience, Relevant  Non-Legal Experience (usually paralegal experience) and Interests; • Content  – It is important to add flesh to the bones. Look to provide specific examples of cases/work you have been involved in, keeping it clear in a bullet point style. Identify the type of clients you have worked with and the sector areas  that they are involved in. Whilst firms want to understand the technical aspects of what you were doing they also need to know the wider context. Each kind of client, from OMB/SME to PLC’s has complexities and difficulties – firms want to know what you have been dealing with. • Business Development – firms continue to look to their junior lawyers to play a pro-active role in marketing themselves and the firm to the market and to clients. As such highlight any areas where you have been involved from breakfast meetings to specific client events. Also include CSR initiatives you have been involved in. • Make it personal – external interests can be an important area as you are most likely to find some level of common ground with your interviewer, whether it be a passion for the violin to a football club rivalry. Technical capability is great but firms are still looking for a personality fit.

As ever the BCL Legal website is a fantastic tool in providing insight and the proforma CV gives an excellent example of the content

Your Interview

It is impossible to cover all eventualities here as there are a great deal of variables depending on the firm, the interviewers and the role itself. We will of course talk to you at length regarding what you can expect and how the interview will unfold.

The first thing to say is that an interview is nothing to be afraid of. A healthy degree of nerves is to be expected, interviewers tend to expect it and will aim to do their best to try to allow you to settle in. Remember that you have already won part of the battle in having been selected for interview. It is a two way process and in getting there the firm has outright indicated its interest in you. Treat that as the positive it is.

The most common type of interview will, at the first stage, be CV based and will entail talking through your experience to date.

As your CV is the window to your experience it is fundamental to your success that you know your CV inside and out. Lines of questioning can  be based around what you were doing on a particular case, transaction or project and what you learnt (both in terms of commercial experience and technical experience). Equally, the firm will expect you to have a real interest in the role and the firm and it is not uncommon to be asked “what do you know about us/the role?”. We will obviously be in your corner for preparation prior to any interviews but naturally you can aid your cause by doing your own preparation on the firm’s website and partner profiles.

Again, common questions that we have come across over the years are neatly summarised on the BCL Legal Website -


Despite the variety of firm’s timing during the NQ process your early registration with us can make the difference between success and failure. We are already handling roles across disciplines where firms are willing to consider September qualifying trainees.

As such the sooner you talk to us the sooner we can set wheels in motion to finding you that perfect job.

Get ahead on the Career ladder

Search our Jobs Today!

Search Jobs