Do your research
You will no doubt have done plenty of research on the firm before submitting your application. If you’re lucky enough to be invited for interview, you’ll need to go over that research and then some. During an interview, you will have plenty of time and opportunities to discuss (and show off) what you’ve learnt about the firm.
Make sure you understand what the firm’s areas of specialism are. Many law firms look the same on paper but when you delve a little deeper you will discover that each one has its particular niche, works with specific industries or has a particular type of client. Culture is another differentiator, and while it can be hard to gauge this from a firm’s website, guides such as The Legal 500 Future Lawyers can be a great way to find out what life is really like at the firm.
Read and re-read your application
You might have been asked to discuss a recent commercial news story or legal development in your application form. It’s very likely you’ll be asked about this in your interview, so be sure to reread your answer. You should also read around the topic so that you can discuss it in more detail.
You could be questioned on any answer or part of your application form or CV, so be sure you’re familiar with what you’ve written incase you’re asked to back up any of the statements you’ve made.
Be confident (but not arrogant)
You’ve made it this far so the firm clearly thinks you would be good enough to work there. The interview isn’t just to interrogate you, it’s also to find out what you are like as a person.
Confidence is key in the legal profession. Your interviews will be looking to see whether they would feel comfortable putting you in front of clients, and whether you are the type of person who can take initiative (within reason for a junior lawyer of course)! This means that you need to show them that you are confident in your abilities.
It’s normal to feel nervous in an interview, but if you speak confidently and back up your answers and ideas with reasoning or examples, you will do well. Just be sure not to let your confidence turn into arrogance – nobody wants to work with a cocky trainee!
A little goes a long way when it comes to body language. Sit up tall and don’t slouch. Start the interview with a strong handshake and make plenty of eye contact with each interviewer throughout.
Look at the firm’s recent cases/deals (and don’t just pick the most recent one)
Recruiters tell us that all too often interviewees mention only the most recently published deal or case firm’s on the website. There’s nothing wrong with this, especially if it’s a big deal that has made the news, or is particularly topical. However, ideally you should make sure you’ve read past the first page of firm news and have a couple more examples up your sleeve incase you’re asked to elaborate.
Always Prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. Asking insightful questions makes you look interested and engaged in the firm and that you’ve actually thought in more depth about what it might be like to work there. It doesn’t look great if you don’t have anything to say!
It’s normal to feel frustrated after an interview and dwell on all the things you didn’t get a chance to say. A good tip is to write down some of the questions you found difficult and think about ways to answer them if they come up in future interviews. A short follow-up email to your interviewers thanking them for your time is also a nice touch.