So you’ve landed an interview for a training contract. Now it is time to get into that room and show them why they should take you on for two years, and then give you a job.
Interviews can be a terrifying prospect, but with some preparation you can make sure to maximise your chances and stay cool on the day. After reviewing your application, the interview is their way of getting to know you better and judge if you would actually make a good addition to their firm. To that end, they will broadly be assessing you on three levels.
Those interviewing you want to know that you really want to be a lawyer and that you want to work with them in particular. This means you need to do your research on the specifics of that firm before, which of course you should have already done when you applied. Make sure you show knowledge of the work they do and have good reasons for wanting to work there.
To display evidence of your motivation, this would be the time to dig deep and bring up any legal work experience you have done and any extra-curricular legal activity you did during your degree. If you did a vacation scheme with the same firm, they are likely to bring that up, so make sure you can demonstrate how you profited from your time there. Think in advance about what you did well during that vacation scheme and areas on which you know you could improve upon - self-awareness around your own strengths and weaknesses shows maturity and humility - two valued qualities. 5 top tips for your training contract application.
To demonstrate motivation, you also need to show that not only are you interesting, but that you're also interested. This means asking questions; the interview is a chance for you to get to know the firm as well. Questions also let them know you are genuinely interested in the work they do. Try to tailor them to the interviewer, perhaps asking about the trainee experience to the recruiter and saving questions on individual cases for a partner.
Learn: What is a training contract
2. Commercial Awareness
If you are applying to work at a commercial law firm, then you had better have an idea of what actually goes on in business. However, commercial awareness can seem like a maddeningly vague thing to grasp.
In essence, you need to understand the role that commercial law plays in the world and what factors affect it. Find out what areas of business the firm operates in, then start getting better acquainted with the goings-on in those areas, while making sure you don’t get caught out with the jargon. A start on this is being aware.
Find out more - watch this clip from Communications Consultant Gwyn Day on how to demonstrate commercial awareness.
You can also subscribe to our weekly Commercial Awareness update, summarising the essential political and business stories of the week.
Law firms want to see what skills you possess beyond academics. Required competencies may vary a little, but most lawyers rely on things like communication, resilience, teamwork, persuasiveness, people skills, lateral thinking and problem solving.
Try to have examples to-hand of occasions when you have shown these sorts of skills; for example, they may want to know about a time when you have been in a leadership position, or worked in a team. Part-time work at university, or society activity can come in useful, giving you a good bank of experience to draw from.
Finally, while keeping all of that in your head, remember to relax, if you can. They also want to get a sense of what it would be like to work with you, so remember to be punctual, polite and have a personality.
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Good luck - and let us know how you get on...