Interviewing for a training contract can be a very stressful process. For many applicants it is the first job interview they have had in a while and naturally an interview is a daunting event. There isn’t an exact science for performing well in interviews and to be honest each interview is different.
The one thing that is necessary is preparation. Adequately preparing for an interview will ultimately give you the confidence you need to perform your best. Below are a few tips which will help you for any interview that have been tweaked to especially help those who are preparing for their training contract interviews:
- Be yourself
Training contract interviews are as much about personality as they are academic ability. The partners who interview you will have already decided whether they think you are smart enough to do the job. They now want to know who you are, what motivates you and most importantly, whether they want to work with you. Most trainees do have times where they are required to work long hours within a team and so partners are looking for candidates who have a personality and an opinion. Being yourself on the interview ensures that the partners who interview you will get to know your personality and are able to decide whether you are a good fit for the firm. It goes without saying that you should not be too relaxed but if you are stiff and dry you probably won’t do well.
- Answer questions in 3’s.
As you expect, partners will ask a series of questions about you, your CV, your studies, and your application. They will want to know why you want to work for the firm, why you want to be a solicitor and why you want to work in the legal industry. While getting ready for the interview, you should try to think about what questions/topics will come up in the interviews and prepare a three-point answer for each question. You should not robotically recite pre prepared answers at your interviews but having three solid points to your answers will make you look confident and knowledgeable. Most importantly, it will prevent you from giving an answer that lacks direction and is long winded.
- Know your application.
Your application is the first thing that a partner will look at before he/she interviews you and will be the first port of call for any questions he/she is going to ask. Know your application inside out. Remember what you have written in your answers, remember what you have written about your experience/ activities and be ready to explain your application in detail. It will only be embarrassing if you get asked a question about something on your application which you cannot remember or explain! Be ready to elaborate on the statements you have made about the firm in your application as these may come up in the interview.
4.Have questions ready
Although it doesn’t seem like it, an interview is a two-way process. It is an opportunity for you, as an applicant, to learn about the firm, to learn about the partners and an opportunity for you to ask as many questions as possible about how your training contract will be structured and how the firm treats its trainees. If you get the training contract, it will hopefully be the start of a very successful career at the firm and so you should take the time to figure out whether a firm is the right firm for you. Take some time to think about the things you would like to know from the partners at the interview. Your questions can be general or can be firm specific but either way, having pre-prepared questions will make you look proactive interested in your career.
It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to preparing for an interview. I always suggest that you start by looking at the firm’s graduate recruitment material. Review what the firm says and thinks about itself and think about how those characteristics are in line with your personality and your ambitions. After that, look at the firm’s news section on its website and then move on to websites such as The Lawyer, Chambers and Partners, Lawyer 2b etc. Additionally, when you have an interview coming up, make sure you watch the news and keep up to date with current issues. Again, this might come up as a topic in your interview and you may be asked for an opinion.
Applying the points mentioned above to your interview preparation should hopefully make you feel much more confident and comfortable about your interview. Remember, an interview isn’t about being grilled or caught out but you need to be prepared. The most important piece of advice is that you should be yourself. Partners interview many candidates and can easily pick out when someone isn’t being genuine.
Natalie A Carter
Reed Smith, London