legal careers guide

8. Preparing for interviews

This Step looks at how you can prepare for interviews to maximise your chances of success.

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Before your interview

  1. Check the invitation – is there a requirement to do preparatory work?
  2. Research - the recruiter, competitors, the market, legal news and current affairs.
  3. Re-read your CV or application form - are there any gaps that the interviewer is likely to ask about? Think about what you have to offer the recruiter and what your main strengths are.
  4. Look at the professional codes of conduct.
  5. Plan what to wear - keep it formal.
  6. Book a mock interview with one of our career advisers - check whether the employability service has any further information on the firm or chambers.

General tips for interview success

  • Speak clearly and slowly (if you are nervous, you are likely to speed up).
  • Provide a logical structure. For example: “I think there are three main issues... Firstly…Secondly… and finally…”
  • Think before you speak - it is perfectly acceptable to pause before answering in order to collect your thoughts.
  • Although you need to prepare for questions, remember that you are likely to need to think on your feet and it is good to show that you are not over-rehearsed.
  • Be interested and engaged - show you are listening by referring back to something an interviewer has said.

Activity – Interview Checklist

Central to your interview preparation is knowing about the recruiting organisation. Download our checklists below to help you identify key information for each recruiter.

Interview checklist for barristers

Interview checklist for solicitors

Frequently Asked Questions

Congratulations - now is the time to invest in formal clothing. Even if your interviewers have a relaxed dress code, the law is a conservative profession so it’s wise to be cautious with your outfit choice for your interview.

For women, it’s best to opt for a plain, dark suit, low heels, tidy hair, and nothing too excessive by way of makeup, nail varnish and jewellery. For men, much the same: conservative suit, shirt and simple tie with smart polished shoes.

In a smart bag, take the following items:

  • the correspondence you’ve received from the firm inviting you to interview including the address, phone number and contact name
  • your mobile phone (switch it off before the interview starts)
  • a notepad and a couple of pens, plus a note to remind you of any questions you wanted to ask the firm
  • a copy of your application/CV and covering letter, so you can refresh your memory before you go in (obviously this is not to get out mid-interview).

It is difficult to ensure that you’re well prepared for an interview without coming across as over rehearsed. The firm will want to make a judgement on the ‘real you’ and this can be difficult if your answers seem scripted.

Don’t stop preparing yourself for interviews, but use these tips on the day:

  • try to relax
  • listen to the questions you’re being asked and tailor your answers to those questions
  • show that you are listening and thinking on your feet by occasionally repeating back part of the question to the interviewer in your answer
  • when asked if you have any questions of your own, try and relate your questions to something the interviewer previously said. For example: “I was very interested when you mentioned… how do you see that developing in the future?”

If you’re studying with us, you can book a mock interview session with a member of our careers team. Remember that you’re doing something right to be getting asked to interviews and the practice you’ve had so far is invaluable for improving your technique each time.

If you have accepted a place or are a current student of ours, look at the Employability Service information on ELITE (our student portal) to see if there is any information on the firm.

For additional information look at:

  • the firm’s website
  • firm listings and information in the main client directories like Chambers and Partners
  • the legal press for recent activity such as The Lawyer or Legal Week
  • an online search of the people interviewing you, if you know their names.

Search for the firm in the ‘Find a Solicitor’ section of the Law Society’s website – this will tell you the firm’s areas of work, as well as the number and names of their partners.

Search the archives of The Law Gazette for the firm or for articles relating to the areas of work they undertake.

Look at other high street firms working in similar areas of law as their websites may give you an insight into the type of clients that there are in the local community. Be on top of the key issues facing high street firms.

Ring the firm - either the graduate recruitment department, if there is one, or the person who interviewed you. Apologise for bothering them and ask for an update on the situation.

Next step: 9

Go to step 9 in the Student Employability Programme.

Next step

Employability

Find out how to make the best start to your career through our Employability and Careers Service.

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