Interviews can be daunting and when it comes to preparing for an interview with a law firm, it can be confusing to know where to start. This is particularly true when they are scheduled at short notice. A week is a long time to research a law firm, but when balancing work, study or personal demands, that may leave only a few hours in practice. As such, using the time you have effectively is key to outshining the competition and achieving an offer.
Where to begin?
A great starting point is the job specification itself, after all this is the firm explaining what they are searching for in a hire. This is them outlining their need, so this can help you to understand what that need is and how you can help meet it.
Look at each of the criteria that they outline. Consider how you meet them and then think about some scenarios you have encountered in your past where you’ve exemplified them.
Once that is done, you can think about how to discuss these situations within a STAR format. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result and helps to evidence your capability for a role. The questions you are asked are likely to relate to the competencies the firm is seeking, so having answers prepared within a STAR format will allow you to provide a powerful answer.
Remember times you’ve exhibited the competencies that are outlined in the job spec. If you can’t think of any in a work situation, then think if there are others you can use from a personal or educational setting. Perhaps you rallied a football team when they were a goal down and clutched victory or maybe you gained commercial awareness from developing a side hustle.
There are people with no professional experience who have won out in interviews against those with far more because they were able to demonstrate their competency against the specification more articulately in their answers.
Start by explaining the challenging situation you found yourself in. Then describe what it was you were trying to achieve from the situation. Then say what action you took and finally the outcome and how you found success from the challenge.
Know the firm
Research the firm thoroughly. Understand their practice areas, learn their values and see if they have any recent cases in the news. Do you know who will be in the interview? Research them – see if they have been in the news recently or worked on any cases. This research will be key for helping you answer questions about why you want to work there and will help you present yourself in a way aligned with their culture.
It will also help you come up with good questions to ask in the interview that elevate you above other candidates. Asking them the specifics of a case an interviewer worked on or the importance of a recent ruling on their practice will showcase your knowledge and interest.
Know the sector
Look at the news for recent events that have happened that are relevant. What are the recent events that might impact their practice? Is there any legislation being proposed in Parliament or coming into effect that will have a bearing on their work? Many law firms will write commentary on legislative and regulatory developments, so see if the firm you’re applying to has published anything – if not, look at competitor law firms to see if they have written on any relevant practice areas.
Make sure you have thought about your appearance on the day. Wear smart clothing and make sure it has been ironed. Have it prepared the day before so there is no last-minute panic. Have a good bedtime routine beforehand and try to keep yourself relaxed for the interview. The more at ease you are, the more personable you will be.
Being prepared will help you feel calm, other things can include exercise and meditation.
Lastly, remember that you are interviewing the firm as much as they are interviewing you, so try to build a rapport, enjoy the conversation and think about what you want to know to see if this is somewhere you want to be.