How to succeed in an interview

Preparing for an interview is obvious, and totally necessary if you want to make the right impression and ultimately land the next step in your career.  Competition between solicitors is ubiquitous no matter the practice area so you need to manage the process carefully making sure you are detailed and focused so you achieve the job offer at the required salary level.

Interviews should not make you nervous, because with the right preparation you will be confident and excited to discuss your skills and experience whilst also gaining further insight into the company and vacancy. 

The following tips are based on collating data of over 1000 candidates that have made mistakes when going for interviews.   With this information, you can be one step closer to receiving your desired job offer.

Pre-interview preparation

Tip 1

Research the company and the interviewers thoroughly.  The first place to begin is reading their website and their profiles on LinkedIn.  Do you have anything in common with the interviewers?  Go further and find out what other companies have written about them.  For example are they a new hot firm listed in the legal 500.  Glassdoor is an interesting site where previous employees can write reviews about their experience working there. 

The idea of this exercise is to be prepared to answer the question, what do you know about us? and for you to have a number of questions to ask based on the research you have done.  The interview is a two-way process, so you want to interview them as well.

Tip 2

Make the journey to the place of the interview beforehand.  You might think, I have sat-navigation on my phone so I don’t need to do this, but its sod’s law that the road layout has slightly changed or road works has meant that you need to find a new entrance.  Knowing exactly how to reach reception can save you time particularly if you are already running late due to delayed train or bus.

Tip 3

Know why the company is recruiting and what they are looking for.  Sometimes your recruiter or the company itself has provided you with a job specification.  If this is the case then identify the key skills and competencies they are seeking and prepare your answer to, why should I hire you? If however, you are not entirely sure why they are recruiting and what they are seeking then call the hiring manager and ask them.  You are more likely to gain a deeper insight into the position that needs to be filled which will not be in the job description.  For example, you can ask, how many people are on the team and where does this role fit? Your answers to their questions will be more focused if you can match your experience and personality.  It’s a call that could put you top of the list.

The Interview

You have been shortlisted because on paper the interviewers are convinced that you have the skills to do the job.  They now need to double and triple check this, plus be satisfied that you can fit in and commit.   

Tip 1

Be smartly dressed and confident.  This means conforming to the professional colours of blue, grey & black.  It’s possible that the firm you’re interviewing at has a relaxed dress down policy.  Despite this, it’s advisable to dress conservatively for your interview. If you have done your pre-interview preparation then you ought to feel confident so be prepared for any question. It’s the interviewer’s prerogative to put you under some stress to see how you react.  Always stay composed and respectful.  Simply answer the question in a positive way. 

Tip 2

Build rapport, sell yourself.  This is the crux of an interview.  Even if you turn up late with sweaty hands you could still turn it around if you perform exceptionally well.  To build rapport effectively you must be a good listener, mirror and match their body language and have good eye contact.  Selling your skills and experience may not come naturally but this is precisely what you have to do. To sell your skills is really explaining how you can add value to the team and you’re basing this on your past and current experience and how you can grow into the role. 

Tip 3

Answer questions fully giving examples.  Even if a negative question is asked, such as where does your weakness lie, you need to answer it positively by demonstrating that you’ve turned this weakness into strength.  Give real examples unique to you.

Post Interview

Tip 1

Thank the interviewers for meeting you be email.

Tip 2

Ask for feedback.  Of course, this won’t be necessary if you were offered the job.  Ideally, you want to have a telephone conversation to find out how you can improve.  If it was a close call between you and another candidate will they consider you for the next suitable position? This will save them time from interviewing another set of candidates.

Tip 3

If they gave you instructions on the next steps, then follow it.  So, for example, they may have told you that they will be interviewing for the next few days, therefore, be patient and wait.  Don’t be a stalker.

Do’s

Make sure your phone is off and out of sight

Make sure you are on time

Have a number of questions to ask

Give examples to demonstrate your skills that are unique to you

Make sure you understand what is required to perform well in the role

Don’t

Men – Don’t where white socks, black, or silk shirts or cartoon character ties

Ladies – No low cut tops or short skirts

Make sure your hands are not wet

No jokes even if you appear to be getting on well

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