Now the kids are back to school, are you beginning or stepping up your job search.  Job searching is time consuming and can be hard work but here are some tips on how make a success of your interviews – taking into account the changes that we are seeing in the interview process.

  1. Be ready to Skype: Lots of first interviews are conducted via video these days, so don’t be surprised if you’re invited to a Skype interview (or equivalent like Google hangout). Check your microphone and webcam connections, practise with a friend in advance to ensure everything works, and make sure you know the Skype ID of the person you need to connect with on the day (not just their name). Ensure you set up your laptop against a neutral background (not your messy bed) and dress appropriately (at least from the waist up!). You will need to get used to looking into the webcam (so that your interviewer feels you’re making eye contact) while also looking at the display showing your interviewers, so you can pick up their visual cues. This can feel a little alien at first, so, again, practise in advance is worthwhile.
  2. Properly research the firm you are interviewing with – don’t just on look at their website but also check out legal market publications for important updates or recent awards they may have won (The Lawyer, Legal Week, Law Society Gazette, and so on). It sounds obvious, but it can be easy to let this important job slip, especially if you have several interviews with different firms lined up.
  3. Remember your interviewer is likely to look up all they can find about you online (see our recent article for our tips on using social media), so make sure you also research the person who is interviewing you – using LinkedIn and general market research. You may find you have interests or experiences in common that could come in very handy when you are looking to make a good impression.
  4. Prepare responses to typical questions – provide detailed examples to showcase your skills, experience and achievements, and make connections with the job specification to show your fit with the job and the firm. Always try to provide practical examples to illustrate your experience and capabilities – this will prove particularly helpful if your interview chooses to follow a competency-based approach, which seeks to establish how you would behave in different scenarios. Typical questions in a competency-based interview would be:
    1. Describe how you would deal with…?
    2. Can you think of an example of when/how you…?
  5. Panel interviews are also increasingly common. Don’t let this phase you. The same approach goes for one or several people. Just remember to make eye contact with everyone – engaging equally with an interviewer that doesn’t speak as much as the others. Listen carefully but at the same time don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat or clarify a question – different voices and styles of questioning can be harder to follow, especially when you’re nervous.
  6. Be prepared for some level of testing – you might be asked to do some homework between interviews (prepare a marketing campaign, for instance), show examples of past work or engage in a practical assessment. Your recruiter should be able to help you with these requirements and point you in the right direction for showing off your best side.
  7. Have questions ready, not just so that you look interested and engaged, but so that you can glean important information that will help in your decision making (after all, with a successful approach to all the above, you may have several offers on the table). We don’t mean salary and benefits here, but questions perhaps around the firm’s development and future plans, career growth opportunities or how they perceive their own firm’s culture. The interviewer’s answers – even whether they are clear or opaque – could all help you decide if this is the right place for you.
  8. Most of all, be honest. Don’t try to second guess what the interviewer wants to hear, or you’ll find yourself getting caught up in knots trying to be someone you’re not. Be true to yourself, proud of your achievements and/or potential and, if you don’t have key experience/skills they’re looking for, don’t pretend that you do. Be upfront. If they like you, they may well be willing to give you training.

But most of all remember an interview is just as much about you finding the right company as it is about them finding the right candidate.

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