and other interviews. You don’t need to know everything, but you need to be able to give your opinion coherently and concisely. Reading the legal press is also essential, as candidates are likely to be asked about current affairs and the wider legal market.” On the day itself, arrive with time to spare. Being late is likely to be viewed as a sign of arrogance or rudeness, not confidence. Make sure you have a mobile phone and the number of the firm in case you are unavoidably detained, so you can let them know what’s happening. Don’t follow the example of the applicant from Leeds who turned up two hours late for an interview with a firm in London armed with several Harrods shopping bags, or the candidate who failed to show up for an interview without explanation, then rang the chambers a week later demanding to know why she hadn’t heard from them. Having done your preparatory homework and got yourself safely to the correct location, let’s take a look at the sort of thing you can expect when you get there. Assessment centres The selection process at solicitors’ firms and barristers’ chambers can range from a series of interviews to a half day of group exercises and tests, designed to test whether you have the skills for the job. Assessment centres usually take place at the organisation’s offices, but in the wake of coronavirus, firms and chambers have been holding them online too using facilities such as InsideSherpa. An assessment centre might include group exercises, ability tests, presentations and in-tray exercises. Some candidates may even be let go halfway through the assessment centre, with those left then having a final interview. One recruiter mentions an incident that occurred during the chambers’ assessment day: “We do an X-Factor style goodbye halfway through the day, inviting
When you are invited to an interview, the first thing you should do is pat yourself on the back. The process to get to this stage is highly competitive, so you have already shown that you are a good candidate for a training contract. Nerves will probably soon follow, too, and you are bound to wonder what you will be asked and what the process will be like.
Read on for advice on how to maximise your chances of success.
Preparation It’s your application that has aroused the firm’s/chambers’ interest, so reread it. Try to imagine some of the things which your interviewers might focus on (eg, what you have gained from your experiences in terms of skills and personal development). Caroline Lindner, global communications lead at Norton Rose Fulbright , advises: “Interviewers will want to test how the candidate can respond to unseen materials or topics, so expect to be taken out of your comfort zone and be willing to debate and discuss topical commercial issues which you may not know a lot about. After all, we are looking for agile minds!” Read the firm’s/chambers’ recruitment literature and browse its website. Read the trade press, such as The Lawyer , Legal Week and Law Society Gazette , as well as the law sections of The Times (if you can access a subscription) and Guardian , so that you are aware of current legal issues. If you can’t face trawling through the broadsheets, go to LawCareers.Net for its News section. Alix Balfe-Skinner, HR manager at Taylor Vinters is keen to emphasise the importance of research and preparation: “It is vital that students understand and know as much as possible about the firm they are applying to and the challenges and opportunities currently faced by the firm. This is often a key questioning area in training contract
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