Interview Success

Interview (noun – a meeting of people face-to-face, in person or on-line, for consultation)

How to be a success at interview and make sure you are remembered


Get to know your prospective employer: This is the time to call on Google, Safari or whichever search engine you prefer.  You have a wealth of information at your fingertips, use them to find out as much as you can about your prospective employer, their modus operandi, their values and CSR policies, their staffing structure, accolades and position with the field, news reports etc.  Read everything you possibly can so that when you walk through the door, or press connect on-line,  you feel you already know and, more importantly, understand them.

Get to know your interviewers:  Linkedin – use the platform to look into your interviewer(s) background, to understand their career and how they have progressed.  See who they connect and interact with, and on which subjects of interest they respond.  Most companies have a dedicated Linkedin company page; read these for current news feed and pertinent issues which have affected their industry so you are fully up to date.


Yourself: think about your appearance and the first visual impression you want to give.  Make sure it  is the best professional version of you. The majority of our clients and indeed the wider legal profession prefer smart, including ties.  Better to err on the side of caution than regret a poor choice of outfit.

Your journey:   if you have a face-to-face interview, plan your route and timings.  Half an hour early with  enough time for some deep breathing exercises is much better for your nerves than arriving late, dishevelled and breathless.

Note, there is nothing worse than a late candidate and especially annoying for interviewers, especially if they have arranged back-to-back meetings.  You will be the one remembered for putting the whole day out of schedule.  Not a great start!

Check what type of interview will it be:

Dependent on the role you are being interviewed for, most interviews tend to fall into one of the following:

  • Informal ‘chat’
  • Formal ‘chat’ (or interrogation)
  • Test & competence

Informal chat:  Don’t be fooled.  Whilst this may be billed as a relaxed, convivial social exchange, it is also an assessment of your ability to build rapport and communicate effectively.  Your interviewer is ‘getting to know you’, trying to gauge what makes you tick, your motivational drive and whether you would be a good ‘fit’ for the team.  So don’t relax so much that you veer off subject.  Keep focused and remember although  ‘informal’,  your interviewer may chuck in some formal questions as well, so be prepared.

The Interrogation or ‘Formal Chat: The one you dread the most but the one you should actually dread the least.  A structured, question-based interview where the same set of questions are posed to each candidate.  Everyone starts on a level playing field, a fair place for all.Your interviewer is testing your knowledge and understanding of the role, of the company, of the skills required and whether you have applicable experience; and your ability to think on your feet.  Whilst you will not necessarily know the exact questions that will come up, you can prepare for the types of question that usually do.

Test & competency:  these are sometimes required to test particular key competencies required for the position.  You should be briefed as to what these may entail in order for you to prepare.  These can include English composition for communication purposes, IT understanding for general day-to-day operations and sometimes specific software competences such as Excel or SAGE.

So, how do we prep for any and/or all of the above?

Good preparation takes time and practice and should be done over days, not hours unless you were only advised at short notice.  You need to have digested a lot of information in order to feel equipped and ready for anything that might get thrown at you.

  • Know your CV, inside and out.  Your interviewer wants to know about you and if you must be prepared to talk about yourself.  Think about, and have a mental answer for, any questions they may raise – about any gaps in your CV (which there shouldn’t be), skills and experience listed (or not listed), why you moved jobs or why you enjoy football. What will be your professional answer.
  • Check your social media platforms – does your Linked-in profile mirror your CV, do your Instagram or FB profiles reflect you well?  Remember the interviewer will find out as much as they can about you (just as you will about them) This is the time to take down any posts that may not reflect you well.
  • Standard interview questions: Search engines can provide you with a long list of standard interview questions: ie. tell me about yourself, what are your key skills, your strengths/weaknesses, what motivates you, etc.  These standard questions only become tricky when you don’t prepare properly and the key thing here is to have an example.  If you are going to say you are an excellent team-worker or manager, give an example of how you can evidence this. Did you get positive feedback or even promotion?  If you communicate well, how can you prove this?  Have you delivered presentations or pitches, been successful in winning work from a hard-to-reach client?
  • Skills-based questions.  The job description should detail the skills required, so read it, know it and understand it.  Do you have the skills they are asking for and again, think about how you are going to verbalise and evidence this.
  • Thinking on your feet – the toughest one.  Nerves kick in and the head goes empty.  Scenario-based questions are the hardest…. What would you do if…?  How would you respond if…? Sorry, but practice is the only answer here.
  • If you are really unsure of a question, or can’t give the response you would like to, ask if you can come back to it at the end, giving yourself further time to ponder over your response.
  • Questions for your interviewer at the end.  Have a few ready in your head to pose which haven’t already been covered.  It could be about working practices, their personal progression or chambers’ CSR values and approach to staff well-being.  This is a great opportunity for you to engage further, to prove you are enthusiastic and that you really want the position and to work for them.
  • Practise, practise, practise – in front of the mirror, in front of a friend, record yourself on your phone  and look at the playback,  start responding to interview questions in your head.  Yes, you will feel a bit daft but exercising your brain this way will prepare your memory enormously.

Remember it is difficult to remember everything.  Make notes on the above and have them with you on the day of the interview.  Whilst you may not be able to use them during the interview itself, they are great for a quick glance over before you go in, to refresh that memory and also good to have a quick look at the end, to make sure you have covered everything.


The Big Day itself:

Deep breathing exercises help to slow down a slightly raised heart rate.  Remember to smile and introduce yourself.  Don’t forget, your interviewer is just a normal person who has probably been in your shoes.    Remember, they thought your CV or application, was good so they want to know more about you and your abilities – go sell yourself.  The very best of luck.


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