Having created a strong impression with your well prepared and informative cv, you will hopefully secure an interview with your prospective employer.
An interview is a two way process which enables both parties to find out more about each other and to establish whether there is a mutual fit.
The key to performing well at interview is preparation, as this will ensure that you appear confident, knowledgeable and well informed.
HINTS AND TECHNIQUES
In advance of your interview it is essential to do the following:
- Research the organisation, department and where possible the interviewer thoroughly. Use every resource available to you including:
- Company Brochures
- Legal Press such as the Law Society Gazette, Legal Week and The Lawyer will provide you with an insight into any news relating to the organisation
- Annual Reports
- Legal Directories including The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. These are particularly useful when researching your interviewer
- If you have a job specification read it through several times, ensuring that you fully understand it
- Establish from your consultant why the vacancy has arisen, where the role will fit within the structure of the department/organisation and what format the interview will take
- As stated above, know your cv and be confident in discussing its entire content comfortably, answering any questions raised in relation to it
- Think about the questions you want to ask and prepare for those that you feel may be asked
- Give particular thought to competency based questions and be prepared to give examples of how you have dealt with specific situations you have encountered
- Ensure that you know exactly where the interview will take place and have planned how to get there and whether there are any parking facilities if required
On the day of the interview:
- Dress appropriately which will ordinarily mean a smart business suit including a tie for men. You will normally be advised in advance if an organisation has a dress down policy and do not require you to wear a suit at interview, but we would still recommend that you dress smartly and professionally avoiding jeans, trainers etc
- Take two copies of your cv with you. One for your own reference and another in the event that the interviewer has mislaid theirs
- Arrive with time to spare to enable you to collect your thoughts. If you are running late, telephone your consultant or the firm to let them know
- Whilst you are sitting in the reception waiting to be called into your interview, please remember that employees passing through may relay comments back to the interviewer in relation to you, so ensure that you are acting professionally at all times while you are on the premises
- Greet your interviewer with confidence, making eye contact and firmly shake their hand
- Maintain eye contact and speak clearly, avoiding the tendency to speak too quickly
- Smile and maintain positivity throughout the course of your interview
- Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying and think before responding to questions
- Maintain your interest in the role and organisation during the interview
- Avoid being negative about your current or previous employer as this may suggest that you are bitter or difficult to get along with
- Overall, try to relax and be yourself during the course of your interview
From an interviewers perspective, the purpose of the interview is not only to ensure that the candidate has the experience and knowledge to perform in the role, but also to assess their suitability and cultural fit for the organisation.
Try to avoid answering questions with a simple yes or no. Be prepared to expand on your answers, providing examples where possible to demonstrate your suitability for the role.
The following is a list of frequently asked questions by interviewers:
- What do you know about the organisation and department?
- Why do you want to work for this organisation?
- Which skills make you suitable for this role?
- What qualifications/experience do you have that will make you a success in this organisation?
- Tell me more about your current role and achievements
- Tell me about a project you have worked on and how you tackled any problems you encountered
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you cope with pressure and deadlines?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
- What motivates you?
- What are your salary expectations?
- How would your best friend describe you?
- How do you spend your spare time?
Hopefully the preparation you undertook in advance of your interview will enable you to answer the above questions confidently, but also have a think about any additional information you may require or questions you might have including:
- Do you need to know more about the firm in terms of its size, client base, specific projects they are undertaking and what their plans are for the future?
- What is their perception of the role you would be performing and where would this fit into the department/organisation?
- Do they have an appraisal system and if so, how does it work?
- How do they assess performance and what additional scope is there for ongoing training or education
- Will there be an opportunity to have any client facing responsibility or to become involved in the development and marketing of the department/organisation.
After the Interview:
- Call your consultant once you have gathered your thoughts in order to relay your feedback
- Consider whether there is any additional information you require to enable you to assess whether the role, department and organisation are right for you