How to Prepare for an NQ Lawyer Interview

Personal Career Management

Congratulations on becoming a qualified lawyer! It’s been a long road and now your formal training is complete, it’s time to land that permanent position. Whether you are applying for a role in the company you trained with or looking further afield, we asked leading career experts Personal Career Management to share their advice on how you can maximise your chances of success.

Preparation is key

Most candidates are under-prepared. They either think they can wing it on the day or focus only on the things they already know or do well and ignore any weaknesses that may be exposed.

Employers want to be impressed, but they also want to assess whether you present any risks to the company, so you must be prepared for a thorough due diligence review of your suitability for the role. Here’s our suggested preparation checklist.

  • Don’t make assumptions: Even if you’ve been working there during your training contract and think you know the company, you should treat this interview as if you are an external candidate. Study the job description and selection criteria carefully. Think of examples that will reassure them that you have the requisite knowledge, experience and personal qualities that are important for them e.g. client focused, resilient, collegiate.
  • Research the company: Garner as much information as you can through talking to people in the company wherever possible, but also through internet research. Find out all about the work of the department and the larger company, its portfolio, the client base, it’s financial situation and business challenges. Compare the company with its competitors. How do they differentiate themselves? In your research, you will uncover lots of helpful clues about the role, the company culture and additional information about the type of person they are looking for, which you can use to your advantage.
  • Craft your answers: You may not know exactly what questions may be asked, but it’s usually easy to anticipate the kind of questions that will come your way. There will be questions about your strengths, weaknesses, how you work with others and handle difficult situations. You will need strong real-life examples to illustrate your answers and you need to have them ready-made so that you can easily share them on the day. Make sure you prepare an answer to the “Tell us about you…” question which often opens an interview. Rather than a personal history, it needs to focus on why you meet all the elements of their selection criteria and your genuine enthusiasm for joining the company. If you make sure it is relevant, succinct and positive you will make a great first impression.
  • Prepare for hypotheticals: There may be questions about your expertise, often involving a hypothetical scenario for you to advise on. Make sure you are up to date on relevant impending legislation, regulatory issues or interesting case law which could help inform your answer. In interviews, they will not only be testing your knowledge, but also your critical thinking skills under pressure. They will want to see that you have taken into consideration the complexity of the scenario, which includes managing client relationships, business implications etc. Set yourself some hypothetical scenarios in advance and work through them, so that you develop a helpful structure for thinking these through which you can use during the interview.
  • Check practicalities: Always check what the format of the interview will be beforehand. Will there be one or several interviews, are there any assessments likely to be set, how long is it likely to last? Who is on the interview panel? Check them out on LinkedIn as this will help you feel in the interview that you are in some ways already acquainted, rather than meeting a stranger for the first time. Members of an interview panel are also likely to have different priorities, for instance a Partner will have a different perspective from the Practice Manager. Anticipate what these might be and what they will be looking for from you at the interview.
  • Practice out loud: Ideally, arrange a mock interview with a career coach or someone else you trust. If this isn’t possible, then record yourself on your phone and play the audio back. Rehearsing your answers will help you recall them more easily in the stress of the interview situation, helping you refine your answers and deliver them confidently.

Personal Career Management are very highly regarded career coaching experts, described as the “best in the business” by key industry players, writing best-selling career books and frequently appearing on television, radio and in the national press advising on career issues. Their career coaching specialists have worked with thousands of professionals with a wide array of different career challenges, including many in the legal field. Their mission is to help individuals love Monday morning.

For more information, click here to visit their website or call Personal Career Management on 0845 686 0745

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