Interviews For Legal Jobs Need Not Be Stressful

Job interviews are stressful for nearly everybody, especially if they involve the first step on a career path such as that for a trainee solicitor, but there are lots of techniques to help you with interviews for legal jobs.The law is such a formalised profession that having spent three or more years learning at university or college preparing to join the world of work, it will come as a shock to the system after the more casual world of further education to think about how to make the right impression with a potential employer.Even if you managed to get a first job without too much trouble, you may now be ready to progress in your career, perhaps into a specialisation, a bigger firm or to take a more responsible position.There are also job interviewees who unexpectedly find they have to make a career change, perhaps through redundancy or a geographical move to another part of the UK, which means they need to brush up on techniques to come over as confident and competent, especially in today’s competitive environment.The legal profession is not the only one with a reputation for correctness in appearance and behaviour and when applying for a professional position in many offices, including finance, banking and public bodies, there are a number of aspects to consider if you want to give yourself the best chance of landing that coveted position.Planning and research are the most important tools you can employ in making the most of the short time an interview takes. Some employers deliberately set aside only half an hour per candidate for a first round so you don’t have long to show why you should be given further consideration.Obviously, you will be dressed as smartly as possible but, without being so over the top as to be uncomfortable, then you can be more confident and natural. Dark suits are still the norm but they don’t have to be black – grey or navy are quite acceptable.Research where you’re goingBe 100% sure of where you are going and how to get there. Far better to be half an hour early and wait in a nearby coffee shop than ten minutes late, arriving sweaty and anxious. If possible, visit the building beforehand to check the layout and see if you can gather clues about the firm and its business.Is there bustle or is it quiet? How many employees are there? If there’s interaction with the public, do people smile when entering or leaving the premises? Is there a positive vibe about the place?With the internet, you can do a lot of research about the law firm, business or other organisation which is recruiting and this should pay dividends at the interview. Libraries will have reference material, too, so that you will be prepared with knowledge on the past, current and future activities of the firm.If you know who you will be meeting, try to find out something about him or her from a professional point of view and, if you are unsure of how to pronounce any names, ask the receptionist when you arrive.As regards the job vacancy itself, don’t go to the interview with preconceptions unless every detail of the post has been specified in the advertisement.If it is a trainee position: Who will be supervising your work? Will there be other trainees? If so, how many and will they be at the same stage of responsibility? What is the structure of the firm and what career progression can you expect?After the basics have been explained, either volunteered or because you asked, look for more details of what will be involved on a day-to-day basis and where your education or experience will be used.Don’t forget about your other life-skills at interviews for legal jobsAlthough young people, in particular, may not be able to offer a huge amount of relevant experience, there may be other areas outside of work, such as IT competence, amateur dramatics or charity interests, which could show life-skills and abilities that would be of use to a potential employer.If you don’t seem to quite match the job description, think beforehand how you could turn this to your advantage by pointing out how your talents could be used. Be prepared for the usual interview questions, which most people find intensely irritating to answer.These include: Tell me about yourself; why do you want to be a lawyer; why do you want this position; what are your ambitions; what are your strengths; what are your weaknesses; what will you contribute to our law firm.Some of these answers will be covered generally in your cv and this will give you an opportunity to expand on them. The others are not necessarily trick questions but you need to practise and prepare to give sensible answers.Another question which needs a ready answer is ‘why did you leave your previous job?’ Presupposing you did not leave under a cloud, give an honest but positive reply. In many professions, especially in one geographical location, gossip about companies and individuals in a particular field can be enhanced by Chinese whispers at every repetition.Even if you are desperate for a job, any job, don’t reveal negative issues such as this and, equally, if, having seen the dreary solicitors’ office or taken a total dislike to the senior partner you couldn’t bear to work in the place, do your best to secure the situation – after all, you don’t have to commit until you have replied to an offer in writing.The main advice, however, for anyone who is facing the big interview for a legal job (or another career) is: smile, be confident and one day you will get the position you deserve.

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