Sunday, 7 August 2011

Interviews: another perspective

The following piece is by Lawyered_87, poached from the cathedral that is Roll on Friday with permission. I thought it was rather spiffing, hence the poach.

By Lawyered_87 on Roll on Friday on 7 August:

I was one of those candidates that was lucky enough to get invited to a lot of interviews at good City firms but never seemed to be able to break through that "glass ceiling". This had happened since I started applying 3 years ago. So I have a lot of experience with interviews and I've come to one conclusion: you cannot wing anything, ever.

I managed to get a t/c recently and I totally changed my approach for that interview and I feel this new approach helped me get it.

I treated the interview as if it was an exam. So a few days (or even a week, it's up to you) all I would do is get into a routine of getting up early and going to sleep early, and throughout the day I'd "revise". This would consist of:

- reading everything I can about the firm (its website,, lex100, student chambers and partners etc.)
- keeping up to date on current affairs (BBC News, Lawyer 2B, Legalweek etc.)
- watching BBC News 24 whenever having breakfast and lunch
- practising verbal reasoning tests (if you had to)
- And the most important one - looking at every possible question that can be asked at an interview and coming up with at least some answer to them or one example.

That last part is really important. I know it's virtually impossible to know what could get asked at interviews; they'll throw you a left-fielded question you may not have anticipated. You deal with those wildcards the best you can. But there are some questions that are very common; there are great resources on-line that give for example 100 interview questions that could be asked - so I went through each one and asked myself what I'd say if I was asked them. It's a tiresome, tedious and boring process - but when you realise the potential dividends of getting a t/c through this preparation, it's worth it!

I'd also practice actually answering some questions out loud - privately in my room of course! The very act of speaking about yourself and bigging yourself up is so unnatural, that the more you do it the more natural it'll be. You can also practice structuring your thoughts/answers in your head and speaking a little slower, as nerves on the guy can make you speak too quickly and wildly.

For each potential interview question, I'd try and come up with 3 good points I'd always reel off. So, for example, "Why do you want to be a solicitor?" - for this I'd have 3 points I'd rely on; it makes you sound confident and certain. Competency questions, I'd always have one example but a second one just in case I needed it. So, for example, "tell me about a time you used teamwork?" - I'd have a good example for this, and then go through STAR structure (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

You'll see that preparation is key. When I began to have so many dud interviews, I started to realise that I wasn't preparing for them enough - and it's silly to not prepare for them. Because at the end of the day the mere opportunity to get an interview is a lot more than a lot of applicants get at all! An interview is an opportunity for you to shine and if you don't put every effort into it you've just robbed yourself of a great opportunity that others would kill for.

The added bonus of good preparation is that it makes you more comfortable, which relaxes your nerves on the day.

So be focused. Stay sharp. Prepare. It'll pay off in the end, believe me.

1 comment:

  1. The best practical info and advice I've read.