Interview Preparation – Top Tips
- March 20, 2022
Look the part.
Dress to impress regardless of the level of the role that you are going for. Make an effort and dress in a suit or if you don’t have one, your smartest interview clothes. (Remember 1st impressions count)
Know where you are going.
If you don’t know where you are going it never hurts to do a dry run prior to your Interview, failing this make sure that you leave plenty of time to get to your destination. It is better to arrive early and go over your research than to turn up late and flustered.
Know you target audience.
Research the company that you are going to interview for and use any additional knowledge that your consultant may have gained to improve your chances to blow them away!!
Don’t rely on the interviewer being a mind reader.
Ensure that you sell yourself to the best of your ability; the person interviewing you may have had nothing to do with short listing you and has only seen your CV 5 minutes ago, not having time to digest it. Use this opportunity to sell yourself into the job.
Smile!!! Be happy to be there.
Employers are not just looking for excellent skills but someone to fit into an existing team, smiling will help overcome your nerves and show the employer that you are a happy, enthusiastic individual that they should have on board.
SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
• Why do you want to join our organisation?
• What would you do if …….. happened? (hypothetical questions)
• Describe a situation in which you dealt with confrontation (for example a difficult customer).
• Describe a situation in which you influenced or motivated people.
• What other roles have you considered/applied for?
• Describe yourself in three words.
• Describe a situation in which you used your initiative.
• Describe a situation in which you solved a problem.
• Describe a situation in which you took responsibility.
• What are your hobbies?
• What was your biggest setback? Or how do you deal with adversity?
• Describe a situation where you had to plan or organise something.
• What is your usual role in a team?
• Describe a situation where you had a difficult decision to make.
EXAMPLE ANSWERS FOR QUESTIONS
Please note Clayton Legal does not advise that these are the correct answers to the questions listed but are a guide on how they may be approached.
Why do you want this job?
One of the most predictable questions and very important! You need to demonstrate that you have researched the employer and tie your knowledge of them into the skills and interests that led you to apply. Try to find some specific features on which the employer prides themselves: Their training, their client base, their individuality, their public image, etc. This may not always be possible with very small organisations but you may be able to pick up something of this nature from the interviewer.
Describe a situation in which you lead a team.
Outline the situation, your role and the task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it. Try and keep the examples work related and as relevant to the role you are applying for as possible.
Describe a situation where you worked in a team
Most jobs will involve a degree of teamwork. The interviewer needs to assess how well you relate to other people, what role you take in a group and whether you are able to focus on goals and targets.
Outline the situation, your particular role and the task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it.
What are your weaknesses?
The classic answer here is to state a strength which is disguised as a weakness, such as “I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “I push myself too hard”. This approach has been used so often that, even if these answers really are true they sound clichéd. Also, interviewers will know this trick. If you feel they really apply to you, give examples: you could say that your attention to detail and perfectionism make you very single-minded when at work, often blotting out others in your need to get the task done.
A better strategy is to choose a weakness that you have worked on to improve and describe what action you are taking to remedy the weakness.
Don’t deny that you have any weaknesses – everyone has weaknesses and if you refuse to admit to them the interviewer will mark you down as arrogant, untruthful or lacking in self-awareness, This question may be phrased in other ways, such as “How would your worst enemy describe you?”
Who else have you applied to/got interviews with?
You are being asked to demonstrate the consistency of your career aims as well as your interest in the job for which you are being interviewed. So if you have applied to one large Law Firm it is reasonable to assume you will be applying to them all.
What you can certainly say in your favour, however, is that the present employer is your first choice. You may even answer the question by explaining you have yet to apply to any other organisations for this very reason. Perhaps your application to the other firms is imminent, depending on the stage you are at in the recruitment cycle.
Give examples that are:
• Relevant – related to the business you are presently being interviewed for
• Prestigious. They will reflect well on the firm interviewing you
• Consistent. Not from lots of different job areas or employment groups of less interest to you than the present opportunity
• Successful so far. Do not list those firms who have rejected you.
What are your strengths?
This allows you to put across your “Unique Selling Points” – three or four of your key strengths. Try to back these points up with examples of where you have had to use them.
Consider the requirements of the job and compare these with all of your own attributes – your personality, skills, abilities or experience. Where they match you should consider these to be your major strengths. The employer certainly will.
For example, team work, interpersonal skills, creative problem solving, dependability,
reliability, originality, leadership etc., could all be cited as strengths. Work out which is most important for the particular job in question and make sure you illustrate your answer with examples from as many parts of your experience, not just university, as you can.
This question may be phrased in other ways, such as “Tell me about yourself” or “How would a friend describe you?”
Have you got any questions?
At the end of the interview, it is likely that you will be given the chance to put your own questions to the interviewer.
- Keep them brief: there may be other interviewees waiting.
- Ask about the work itself, training and career development: not about holidays, pensions, and season ticket loans!
- Prepare some questions in advance: it is OK to write these down and to refer to your notes to remind yourself of what you wanted to ask.
It often happens that, during the interview, all the points that you had noted down to ask about will be covered before you get to this stage. In this situation, you can respond as follows:
Well, that seems to have covered everything: is there anything you would like to ask me?
Thank you! I’d made a note to ask about your appraisal system and the study arrangements for professional exams, but we went over those earlier and I really feel you’ve covered everything that I need to know at this moment.
You can also use this opportunity to tell the interviewer anything about yourself that they have not raised during the interview but which you feel is important to your application:
Don’t feel you have to wait until this point to ask questions – if the chance to ask a question seems to arise naturally in the course of the interview, take it! Remember that a traditional interview is a conversation – with a purpose.
Examples of questions you can ask the interviewer
These are just a few ideas – you should certainly not attempt to ask them all and indeed it’s best to formulate your own questions tailored to your circumstances and the job you are being interviewed for! Make sure you have researched the employer carefully, so that you are not asking for information which you should be expected to know already.
• I see it is possible to switch job functions – how often does this happen?
• Do you send your managers on external training courses?
• Where would I be based – is this job function located only in …?
• What is a typical career path in this job function?
• Can you give me more details of your training programme?
• Will I be working in a team? If so, what is the make-up of these teams?
• What are the possibilities of using my languages?
• What are the travel/mobility requirements of this job?
• How would you see this company developing over the next five years?
• How would you describe the atmosphere in this company?
• What is your personal experience of working for this organisation?
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.
Whether you are building your legal team or are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.