Articles From the Team

Words of wisdom for NQs (from an experienced top tier interviewer)

In the lead up to the Leeds 2020: NQ Talk, I thought I'd re-share some wisdom that came from one of our key speakers* a couple of years ago: an informal talk on what interviewers look for in an NQ (and how they test for it). It was a popular talk, to say the least, and it highlights the value** of attending NQ events.

Below are some of the most useful insights from the talk (over and above all the obvious things like knowing your CV inside out, looking smart and well presented, having a firm handshake and preparing for competency-based questions).

Discretion – an underrated quality

Unless it's in the public domain, never refer to a matter by name on your CV. If you can Google it, you're safe. If you can't, refer to it on a no-name basis.

Speaking of discretion… don’t slag off your current firm (no matter how awful your training contract has been). Instead, emphasise what you've gained from it, what you'd like more experience in, and what you’re looking to build on in your next role.

If you lack discretion now, how discrete will you be as an employee?

Remember the acronym MAD

Made a Difference. Instead of just trotting out the aspects of a deal or a case you were involved in, try and think of something you did that made a difference. For example, you came up with a new way of dealing with a specific aspect of discovery, which was then adopted by the team.

Practise conciseness

When talking about the experience on your CV, briefly discuss: what the matter was about, the objective, the issues and how it was resolved.

A good little tactic is to imagine you’re briefing a partner on a call they're about to make; they need the salient points. Do this for each element of your CV.

Follow up

Follow up the interview with a nice email thanking the interviewer for their time and providing your contact details in case they have any further questions. Hardly anybody does it, but it makes you stand out. You'd do it after meeting a client for the first time. It's the polite thing to do.


Don’t be afraid to put slightly more unusual interests on your CV; beyond the usual ‘travel’, ‘cooking’, ‘keeping fit’, ‘keeping up with current affairs’ etc. Show that you’re a human being with quirks and eccentricities (within reason of course).

*Louise Dobson (Legal Director, Litigation at Addleshaw Goddard LLP).

**We like to change it up each year. This year we've got a special guest speaker, Charlie Lumley from St James's Place Wealth Management, who will guide you through wealth management for lawyers. This is in addition to the market overview we do each year: what to expect during NQ season, including where the roles will be and what to expect in terms of process (from both a private practice and in-house perspective).

If you'd like to sign up to our Leeds 2020: NQ Talk and Wealth Management for Lawyers, please do so here.

For other locations, keep an eye out on our social media channels!

For more information please contact BCL Legal or email us at

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