In the second of his three-part series, Senior Recruitment Consultant on our Legal, P&I and Insurance desk Tom Brooks gives his advice to solicitors on the interview process.
Your CV wowed the client and you’ve been invited in for a chat. Interviews can be daunting at the best of times, but even more so if you are someone who has either not had one in several years, or in a lot of cases not had any since that first job all those years ago.
They have seen your CV already, they know your experience, and now they want to get to knowYOU.
Let’s start with the method of interview because quite often the ball is in your court when it comes to this. I.e., you are given the option between Video and Face to Face interviews. Video Calls are of course much more convenient in terms of availability, but, it is always better to go for the face-to-face option if available for two reasons. Firstly, you simply cannot replicate a face-to-face meeting via video and secondly, you’d probably have to then do the face-to-face meeting after anyway, so you can skip a step this way.
Some interview processes involve personality profile assessments. Sometimes called tests, these are nothing of the sort and there is no right or wrong answer, so there is no need to panic before doing one.
Sometimes there are legal case study tests to do, often involving reading an example case or document and then having a discussion based around that during the interview. From experience, these will always be accurately tailored to the role you are applying for and designed around example cases on your CV to test how you would respond to them.
It is quite common for an initial interview for Solicitors to be more of an informal meeting, for example over a coffee. These, however, should still be treated as an interview as the fundamentals are the same – they are trying to get to know you and you are trying to get to know them. This point is relevant for all interview scenarios – they are a two-way process. It is as much about them getting to know you as a candidate as it is you getting to know them as a potential employer and company.
Example questions you could ask:
- What is the structure of the wider team, direct reports etc.? (especially if interviewing for an in-house role)
- What is the likely progression and what is expected within the first 6 months? (If not clear from the role profile or prior discussions)
- Where do you see me fitting in?
- How would you describe the company culture?
- What do you personally like most about working for this organisation?
- If interviewing for an in-house role, it is good to ask what their stance on renewal of practicing certificate is.
- If you are interested in extra studies or training, ask if they offer anything in that regard.
Make sure you go in with as much information as possible about the company, the role and the individuals you are meeting. Being as prepared as possible will hopefully help you to be as relaxed as possible. This in turn will help ensure your personality comes through and you are presenting yourself in the best possible, most accurate light.
Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Don’t rush! If you are running late through traffic or public transport issues, please call ahead. If you are calling us and the consultant you are dealing with is not available then there will always be someone on hand to relay the message to the client. It is far better to arrive 5/10 minutes late with notice than it is to arrive bang on time but having to rush to get there.
I have genuinely had someone rejected for turning up to an interview looking, and I quote, “like they had run through a hedge and then done it again for good measure.” Another was rejected for looking “scruffy” due to top button undone and tie wonky. Remember, first impressions are so important.
But what should you wear? Smart? Smart Casual? It is better to overdress than underdress. But if you are ever not sure, we will ask for you. In fact, this goes for anything you aren’t sure about; we will try to get the answer for you prior to the interview to avoid any hidden surprises. The new consensus going round tends to be ‘dress to your environment and role’. And if in any doubt whatsoever, the traditional “suit and tie” approach is still very much valid.
Do not be afraid to speak about yourself and your achievements. Be proud of them! This includes cases you have been involved in. Remember, this is a chance for you to show off all about you. I know this does not come naturally to some people, but no one can sell youlike you can! Be careful not to overstate the transferability of your clients. Be proud too of your extracurricular achievements and hobbies. Again, this all comes down to showing who you are as a person beyond the CV.
If asked about salary or expectations during the interview, do not feel like you must answer there and then. It is perfectly acceptable to say you will go away and give it some further thought.
It is true that the style of interview will vary from client to client and we will always be on hand to assist with every part of the process. The next article will talk about the hopeful offer stage and how to avoid any common pitfalls and hurdles!
If you should you need any further advice or pointers, then please get in touch either by email, [email protected] or call the office +44 1702 480142.
You can also connect with me via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-brooks-b08096b5/