You want the right job within the right company along with the best career development path. Naturally you also wish to secure the fairest package in return for your efforts and expertise. This can be a daunting process, not to mention time consuming and just a little stressful.
We have worked with many legal professionals throughout our careers and when I set up my Surrey based staffing agency, specialising within Legal recruitment one of my chief aims was and is, to add a superior quality of service to those of you we work alongside. Delivering the same level of value to both our Paralegals and our Senior Partner candidates.
From salary and market insights to our knowledge of your ideal firm’s interview and recruitment process, we’ll take the time to support and guide you so that you can focus on the most important part, which is of course succeeding at interview.
It is common knowledge that more than 80% of job seekers do not prepare for an interview. A scary statistic in my mind, however great news for those that do.
So, knowing this let’s consider some of the things that can help a candidate to succeed. You’ll find below some of our simple and effective industry insights, techniques, hints and tips for those of you who are in need of a confidence boost or gentle reminder as to how to go about things.
Please note that although I have written this guide specifically for legal professionals, it really can be applied to anyone and everyone looking to open doors and create career opportunities for themselves.
- Preparation makes for perfection – Preparing for your interview will put you in the top 20% of candidates, therefore it significantly increases your chances of success.
It’s critical to research both the firm and interviewer/s with whom you will be meeting.
Research all online platforms available that offer information, news, company insights and the corporate history of your potential employer.
Really take time to research the firm’s Partners, Department Heads, competitors and where they sit within the marketplace so that you can speak confidently about your knowledge of their practice and equally importantly, answer their questions on why it is you wish to work for them.
It’s a good idea to bullet point your notes to read over and help you to prepare to the best of your ability. These notes can also be taken to interview as a prompt, but be careful not to make this too lengthy as it should be designed to help not hinder.
- Remind yourself why it is you are perfect for the position – Refresh and familiarise yourself with both your CV and the job spec.
Often candidates are already busy, studying or working in full time jobs. We might have asked you to consider a number of positions, you may have seen a number of job specs, applied or interviewed elsewhere. It’s surprising how often we come across candidates who have not looked at their CV since they first wrote or refreshed it.
Therefore it is extremely important to read over your CV so that you are fully acquainted with its content. It is imperative you know your own background inside out. Remind yourself of your specific skills, experience and achievements against the requisite of the job description.
Being confident about your ability, expertise and relevance for the position, whilst backing this up with concise facts and figures, will mean you pitch yourself perfectly for the role and hopefully knock out the competition.
Once again it’s a good idea to bullet point your notes and add these to your others.
- Practice makes perfect – Role play or rehearse likely interview questions and how you will best answer these to help ease any nerves on the day, boost your confidence, pitch and overall presentation.
It’s a good idea, in your mind or with someone else, to consider all the standard, typical and tricky interview questions that could be thrown your way.
Help gather your nerves and confidently portray yourself by practicing your answers. Always structure your response to best sell your strengths in accordance with the interviewer’s requirements and consider how you’ll best overcome any of their objections.
- Be ready to back up your study and previous career decisions, confidently talking about the skills you have acquired, their relevance to the role, and all your achievements and awards.
- Be prepared to answer reasons for leaving – It’s never a good idea to answer negatively or critically. Instead, focus on what you were hoping to achieve by leaving, rather than what you wanted to leave behind.
- Consider your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll look smarter for having already prepared and assessed this. Be sure that you can evidence these strengths and that you have taken action to overcome your weaknesses.
- You’ll most likely be asked your career goals, both short and long term. Be sure to relate these to the position, using the research you have already prepared.
- Questions to ask at interview are just as important as the answers you give. Is this employer right for you, now is the time to ask? Prepare a short list of discovery questions so you can be confident of wanting to accept a job offer if it comes your way.
- Closing the deal – It’s always a good idea to tell the interviewer why it is you are keen to be given the opportunity and recap on why you feel you are the perfect fit for them. Use your bullet pointed notes to help prepare for this and be confident enough to ask them for their thoughts on you, as well as their next hiring steps.
- You can’t bottle enthusiasm as my old boss used to say. This is your one chance to shine, so be sure to overcome any of their objections and dazzle them with your capability, confidence and enthusiasm.
- First impressions always count, present yourself well – Self presentation and punctuality at interview are crucial.
I always strongly advise candidates to arrive 15 minutes early for interview and be dressed to impress.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so carefully consider your outfit, smile and handshake. You want to be confident and always courteous. Concentrate on portraying yourself to the best of your abilities.
Be sure to know exactly where you are going and how you will get there, allow plenty of time to travel and overcome any unforeseen delays.
Arriving 15 minutes early for interview will help calm any last minute nerves, you’ll have time to gather your thoughts and composure. You could also use this time to take in your surroundings and perhaps gain an important insight into your perspective employer.
- Performance wins the pitch – Focus all your efforts on walking in and winning the job offer!
Be yourself, you’ll feel much more at ease this way and it’s important to present yourself genuinely. Only then can you and the interviewer truly assess if you are right for one another. Do you have the right skills and personality to gel with their existing team and company culture for the long term?
Stay positive and focus on your sales pitch. It’s important for you to sit comfortably and confidently, relax your shoulders and practice your all-important smile and eye contact and always converse positively and professionally.
Don’t discuss money until prompted. I always advise our candidates to wait as long as possible before raising this subject. You will have much more influence once you been offered the job.
Where possible, I recommend you allow your recruiter to negotiate any financial package on your behalf. As long as you have been open and honest about your current package and expectations, we’re best placed to help and save you from any tricky or awkward negotiations.
Following the interview – There are some important steps to follow in order to increase your chances of success.
- Make notes immediately following your interview and truly consider what went well, what you feel you could have done better and what you might do differently at interview next time.
- Which questions were you confidently able to answer and which questions did you find tricky?
- What impression did you get from the interviewer and what do you think they thought of you? Do you want the role? Can you see yourself working for this firm for the long term future? Did the interviewer discuss his or her next steps, be it future interviews and / or offers?
- Call your recruiter to relay all this information to them. We will have been willing you on and waiting patiently to hear from you. We are keen to know your thoughts and feedback to best position you for this or future opportunities.
- A good recruiter will always follow up on your interview, reiterating your interest with any additional information necessary to help the firm make a favourable decision on you.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you and you now feel ready to begin preparing for a successful interview. Of course, if you would like any further help or 1;1 coaching and support you need only ask.