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Legal Interview Tips & Techniques

This comprehensive legal interview tips section is designed to provide you with some further insight into the procedures of an employer’s candidate selection process.

We also detail information regarding what you may experience during the interview stage along with a host of handy tips and suggestions on how to improve your chances of securing your perfect legal job.

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Legal Interview Tips – Viva la Difference

A lawyer is a lawyer? From the sole practitioner to the large City firm, will the interviews really be that different?

You have decided what specialism and type of legal employer is of interest to you [see Choosing a specialism and Does size matter?]. You have carefully prepared your application and received a letter inviting you for an interview. So what can you expect? Will the interview be a one to one meeting, or a meeting with a group of partners? Will it follow the traditional interview format, or does the employer use some different techniques? 

First steps...

Be alert to any more information that could be obtained prior to the day of the interview. You may have received a simple letter inviting you to attend an interview with “Ms Smith, partner, and Mr Jones, HR manager”. If the invitation didn’t specify who you would be meeting at interview then do some research. Make a phone call and ask to speak to the author of the letter or their secretary. No one will mind if you ask for some more information in advance of the interview. Find out who you will be meeting with and their position in the organisation. Check the internet to find out all you can about your interviewer. If you have some knowledge about your interviewer’s professional background it can make them seem a lot less mysterious and intimidating! 

Interview techniques

Medium and large firms

Larger firms will put a considerable amount of time, money and effort into ensuring that their recruitment process procures the best potential employees. Your interviewer will have received training in interview techniques and you may be interviewed by two or more interviewers. Interviews may follow a particular structure and all candidates may be asked the same series of questions. You may be able to find out more about their recruitment process from the firm’s website and recruitment literature. Larger firms may also use techniques such as psychometric testing and group exercises (particularly when recruiting trainee solicitors). You need to stand out and be memorable – in a good way! 

Government employers

From the Government Legal Service to the CPS, if you have only ever been interviewed in a business environment, the techniques used by the public sector may be new to you. Interviews may be quite structured with specific questions and a less conversational manner than in private practice. It is worth speaking to friends and colleagues who work in the public sector to discuss their experiences.

Small firms

Small law employers come in many forms, from the general practice sole practitioner to a niche commercial practice employing former City lawyers. So you will need to do your research thoroughly, but what is likely to be a common factor in the smaller firm is that a significant part of the interview will be to establish whether you are a person they would like to work with. Equally the interview is the opportunity for you to determine that your interviewers are people that you would like to work with - but don’t be too obvious they haven’t offered you the job yet!

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