If you’ve got an interview for a firm or are in the process of applying for one you have come to the right place!
General things to know
Usually, interviews either take place with senior associates or partners, and depending on the firm you will be interviewed by either one or two people. Normally this is so that one of them can ask the questions and the other can write down your answers/comment on how well your answer was. However, some firms find one person is enough (for my particular interview I was only interviewed by one person).
The writing down part can be a little off putting (it definitely took some getting used to for me!) but if you’re going to be a lawyer you need to come prepared for any situation and I can assure you that adequately preparing for your interview is the best way to help calm your nerves. Even if the person is writing things down, try to maintain eye contact as much as possible.
The first step I did to make sure I was really prepared was learning as much about the law firm as I could!
By this, I don’t just mean reading the law firm’s website back to front. Trust me, they know what their website says, they are more interested in what other people are saying about their firm! Has the firm recently been mentioned in any news? Has it been commended or awarded for something recently? And how does this relate to your role in the firm? If the firm came won an award for technology but consistently ranks tier 5 for banking and banking is what you’re interested in, it might not be the firm for you. You can find out what tier different firms departments are at Chambers Student.
Practice answers to the questions you will 9/10 times always get asked.
Why are you interested in our firm?
Why commercial law?
What skills will you bring to our firm?
What is a strength/weakness of yours you have developed/are working on?
Tell me about a commercial issue that interests you.
Make sure you are switched on about the latest business and commercial news.
I have often heard of scenarios where people are asked about a commercial issue that appeared in the news that week, so make sure to read The Financial Times on the week of your interview. I enjoy reading the Financial Times so this was something I normally read, and as a lawyer you will need practice at sifting through and retaining large amounts of information so this is quite good practice for this.
If the firm you are applying to specialises in a particular area of law or has a renowned Tier 1 department (you can find out what Tier each department of the law firm you are applying for is on Chambers Student) then make sure you know a bit about that area.
Be prepared to be challenged on your views, and asked about how you deal with criticism.
A large point of the interview is to see how well you justify your points of view, and how you would deal with feedback and criticism. If you know you’re someone who takes criticism really personally, that’s ok, just make sure you work on dealing with it and understanding that a large part of being a trainee is learning from your mistakes and that feedback is really vital to the learning process of being a lawyer.
If you’re struggling to get to interview stage, take a look at these blog posts I wrote on applications.
Make sure you apply to a range of different firms, because it’s about finding the firm that’s a fit for you, and that feels you are a fit for them. This can take a number of applications so don’t be disheartened by rejections.