The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

of the open day. Clearly, this individual had been sleeping through the talks!” Further, don’t massively confuse things by answering “Why do you want to be a lawyer?” with “I don’t want to be a lawyer”! One recruiter from a US firm recalls this tricky encounter with an interviewee who was asked for an example of using their initiative: “The candidate talked about working in insurance, cold calling an elderly lady and essentially ripping her off by selling her all of the insurance under the sun! The initiative part related to making more money for the business without being asked to!” Don’t forget that ethics play a big part in a successful lawyer’s career. There are lots of old interview chestnuts that you can expect to be asked, so have an answer ready. These include (with less than ideal answers): what is your greatest achievement? (“Stopping biting my nails.”) What are your hobbies? (“Playing with my girlfriend.”) Why do you want to become a lawyer? (“I used to be a doctor, but I’m tired of having to use my judgement.”) Why are you applying to this firm? (“My zodiac sign is Libra, the symbol for justice.”) Having something positive to say about the town or city you are in is helpful – definitely don’t be like the candidate who, when asked why he wished to move to Norwich, replied: “This is Norwich?” And possibly not best to tell the partners interviewing you how very hungover you are. Outright rudeness will make you the stuff of legend at a firm or chambers, but won’t get you a job. One City firm tells how an interview was interrupted by the candidate’s mobile phone ringing (bad). The candidate answered her phone (very bad) and then asked for some privacy while she conducted her conversation (truly terrible). Another candidate, when asked why he had applied only to City firms, bar the northern firm interviewing him, replied: “You must have slipped through the net!”

The work of many lawyers involves a high degree of interaction with both colleagues and clients. This means that recruiters are looking for social skills and confidence. Nervousness at interview is understandable and all but the most callous of interviewers will allow for this. Dress smartly for an interview. As with your application, it’s best not to stand out for the wrong reasons: don’t wear anything too outlandish and do check everything’s done up properly! On your arrival, remember to be respectful. One junior tenant on a set’s interview panel went to the door to meet the applicant, who later described the tenant as “just a receptionist”. Once in the interview room, remember all that experience you’ve had of sitting on – not falling off – chairs and drinking glasses of water rather than pouring them down your front. Similarly, it’s best to wipe clean your specs if they’ve misted up (unlike one candidate who conducted his whole interview through a fog). And remember, the firm wants to interview you; if you bring your mother along, it is unlikely that you, or she, will get a training contract. Think about what you say, too: a candidate who claimed to have a lifelong love of shipping and the sea (in an application to a shipping firm) eventually revealed that this ‘love’ amounted to a one-week family cruise 15 years previously; while the candidate who admitted to informing herself of current affairs via the tabloids (because she found broadsheets boring) was ill-advised. It also pays to pay attention at all times – a recruiter at a large, full- service national firm shares this example of how switching off can lead to embarrassment: “Following a series of talks given by our lawyers at an open day, an attendee casually asked one of the speakers (a senior associate) if she thought she might apply for a training contract with the firm following the experience


Sign up to


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online