7 Steps to Success at Your Legal Job Interview
- August 20, 2019
Whether you are a Child Care Paralegal or a Senior Conveyancing Solicitor, an interview is potentially the start of a new level in your career and a step nearer achieving your aspirations. So, it’s essential to get it right.
You’ve already made a positive impression with your CV, or perhaps a direct application or covering letter – so that first hurdle has been crossed.
The interview, be it over the phone, over a video call virtually, or face to face, is a chance to bring all of those points to life – and it’s essential to put your best foot forward and create a positive first impression that increases your chance of the job offer.
Here are our top seven steps to success…
1. Plan Ahead
Give yourself plenty of time to do your research. Learn all you can about the law firm and the job you’re applying for.
Don’t just look at the facts and figures; see if they have an online newsletter and sign up for it and follow them on social media. You may spot an interesting snippet of information or news story that you can bring into the interview.
Find out what specialisms they have, and what their plans are for future scaling.
These easy hacks will show your knowledge and demonstrate you are keen to work for their law firm.
2. Work with Your Recruiter
It’s also a good idea to work closely with your specialist legal recruiter. They will be able to discuss the role in depth with you and point out any gaps in your skillset that need addressing.
They can also help you assess your value and the strengths you bring to the role, such as soft skills, as they will have in-depth knowledge of the law firm you’re hoping to join.
3. Create a Cheat Sheet
Interviews are stressful enough without adding to the anxiety.
This top tip is useful in keeping you calm and avoiding any last-minute panic. You can use the notes app on your phone to list all the essential things about the recruitment job you need to remember.
- address of the interview
- contact number
- interviewer’s name
- time of your interview
Add three or four main points you want to make during your interview, some brief notes on your answers to competency-based questions and anything else that you think you might need.
You will then have all the information to hand for last-minute revision – allowing you to walk into the interview with confidence.
4. Be on Time
Being on time for an interview is crucial to setting yourself up positively in the eyes of the hiring manager. It says you are a reliable professional and conveys respect.
Conversely, being late for an interview is a no-no. It leaves a lasting impression and will not go down well with the hiring manager, trust me.
To minimise problems on the day, make sure you know where you are going for the interview and how you’re going to get there. Ideally, do a practice run and time yourself.
Everyone knows that hold-ups on the roads or public transport can affect us all.
If the worse happens and you are delayed, phone and apologise as a courtesy. Keep calm and provide them with details of how long you will be (if you know) or ask to reschedule.
It won’t hurt to follow up with a polite email later in the day to reinforce your apology. Good manners cost nothing but can convey a good lasting impression.
5. Harness Your Anxiety
Even with the experience of presenting at conferences or making court appearances, interviews can make the most experienced solicitor or paralegal nervous.
An excellent confidence technique is to “make friends” with your anxiety, says mindfulness teacher Charlie Morley. Acknowledge its presence, but don’t let it overpower you.
Try channelling all that adrenaline by changing your thought patterns – so you view your nervous energy as excited energy. You’ll still feel charged but in a positive way!
You may also consider doing some basic breathing exercises before you go into the interview. I’ve found this NHS exercise helpful.
Finally, positive thought can work wonders. So, picture yourself having a positive outcome and landing your dream legal job. It will boost your confidence levels and give you that extra push to sail through the interview.
6. Know Your Value
Your value to the company goes beyond your knowledge and skills in your specialist area of legal practice.
That doesn’t mean to say that these are not a priority; of course, they are paramount to the job, but your soft skills are also relevant.
Ask yourself what you bring to the law firm that is your USP. Are you a great team player? Do your ethics match those of the law firm? Are you a good culture fit?
If you have relevant testimonials, referrals or letters of recommendation from satisfied clients, take them with you to show the interviewer.
7. Watch Your Body Language
Interviews are not just about talking the talk. You may know all there is to know about your specialist area of family law or litigation and have a first-class degree, but your body language can still let you down and scupper your chances of success.
Body language is more important than you might think – in fact, Mehrabian’s findings are that:
- 7% of meaning in words that are spoken
- 38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
- 55% of meaning is in facial expression.
Avoid fidgeting, crossing your arms, making wild, distracting hand gestures, or slumping in your seat.
Eye contact is the fastest way to build rapport, but at the same time remember not to stare your interviewer out!
Three to five seconds of eye contact works perfectly. If you have more than one interviewer, give the person asking the question 60% of your eye contact when answering and share the remaining 40% across other panel members.
Finally, smile. It’s a fact that smiling will make you feel more confident and you will appear friendly.
The interview is your opportunity to sell yourself and prove your potential value to the employer. So, adopt a pleasant manner and follow these tried and tested interview secrets to get your dream legal role!
If you’re reading this article because you are looking for the next move in your legal career, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, your transition can be smoother and quicker.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.