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Our Top 20 Law Firm Interview Tips

You’ve secured the interview, and now you want to find out how to impress. Read on for our 20 law firm interview tips...

 Congratulations on securing a law firm job interview! That’s the first step out of the way. We’re not saying it’s going to be easy from here, but we’ve written 20 top law firm interview tips to help you feel confident and ready for the next step.

1.     Utilise the job description

A job description isn’t just there to see if you fit the role before you apply. You should use the job description to your full advantage. It’s likely that lots of the questions you will be asked will be looking for you to demonstrate one of these essential skills. So, scour the job description, identify an example of when you have shown this trait and plan an answer out that tells a story. Hopefully you’ve got a few of these in your CV anyway so it’ll just be a case of practising how you will best show off these skills.

Some key traits that law firm interviews will be looking at you to demonstrate are commercial awareness (more on this below), time management skills and resilience. We’ve written a detailed blog post on the top personality traits law interviewers are looking for.

And after you’ve look at the job description, it’s time to…

2.     Research the law firm

…Research the law firm. One of the next most important steps. Not only are your interviewers checking off your resume, ensuring you fit the skills for the business, but they are also ensuring you’ll fit their culture and ethos too. And this means finding out about the company’s values, day-to-day working life, social aspects, cases and more. Not only will this show that you’ve done the research on the firm and are keen to work there, but you can also double check that this role will also be the right fit for you and your life.

We’d recommend researching:

  • The law firm’s story – when were they founded, where do they have offices etc
  • Who their competitors are
  • Big, valuable or notable cases the firm has been involved with
  • What areas of law they specialise in
  • Values
  • Corporate social responsibility initiatives
  • Things they are doing differently to competitors

3.     Get commercially aware

It will look slightly strange if you state you are interested in an area of law, but don’t know anything going on in that industry. One of the key skills of a lawyer is being commercially aware. This helps you to know what new legislation is coming into play, support you in achieving the best outcome for a client, and will aid you in identifing what areas of law interest you. Make sure you are aware of current legal news stories, issues and legislation to show off your knowledge.

4.    Think positively about previous employers and your reasons for leaving

 As with any interview, it doesn’t look good if you start making negative remarks about your previous firm, previous job or previous employer. Therefore, think about all of the positives you’ve learnt from each role and state why you’re looking for a new role without slating previous positions!

5.     Prepare for the interview to start, before the questions start

If you’re back to interviewing face-to-face, don’t forget the interview starts as soon as you walk in the door. Make sure to greet everyone with a smile, a handshake if offered, and maintain a professional manner from the start. Practice your handshake before you go to your interview.

6.     Think about what you are going to wear

Make sure to dress appropriately, whether your interview is in person or not. Not only will you look right for the role, but your outfit might also help you to feel more confident. Make sure you’ve tried it on first though and that it feels comfortable. You don’t want to be spending hours in an outfit you hate!

7.     Look up your interviewers (and connect with them afterwards!)

Not only should you research the firm and its competitors, but look up your interviews too (if you know who they are). Find out what areas they specialise in, what their backgrounds are, whether you have anything in common, and what awards or accomplishments they have. This will be great for making sure your answers are relevant, but also in making you feel more comfortable too.

8.     Prepare the questions you will ask

Not only are you showing off your skills and experience, but you’re also trying to find out whether this law firm is right for you too. Prepare the questions that you’re going to ask your interviewer to see if they align with your values and ambitions too.  

Questions could you include:

  • Why did you choose to work at X firm?
  • What do you like most about X firm?
  • What skills and traits make someone successful in this role?
  • What makes X firm unique?
  • What interactions do solicitors have with one another?
  • What challenges face the firm/industry right now?

9.     Do a mock interview

Get a family member or friend, or if you’re going through a recruitment company, your recruiter, to help you with a mock interview. Identify bad habits, practice your answers and get feedback on where you can improve.

10.  Record yourself

Alternatively, record yourself. Yes, we know that this is one of the last things on your mind -  who really wants to watch a recording of themselves?! But it can be helpful to look back and see your body language, tone of voice and how you are coming across. If there are any issues, or things you want to do differently, you can rectify this now.

11.  Think about specifics

Think about examples you can give, remember specifics but keep it succinct too.

12.  Review your application

Remember what you wrote in your application, CV and cover letter and review this before the interview, so you are prepared to answer questions. One thing law firm interviewers love is examples. If you’ve included specifics in your CV and cover letter about projects you’ve been involved in, modules you’ve enjoyed and dissertation topics, work experience, hobbies and more, be prepared to answer questions about these. 

13.  Show clarity 

Make sure you think about how to structure your answers so it shows your ability favourably and so the interviewer can follow what happened.

14.  Show that you're happy to work the grind

It’s unlikely that you’re going to become a Managing Partner overnight and there’s no problem with being ambitious. But in your interview, you need to be able to show that you are happy to do the grunt work before you make your way up. Be prepared to show this in your interview and make sure you understand what a trainee solicitor does.  

15.  Look up legal directories and jargon busters

After your law degree, you are probably all too familiar with the jargon and language used within the law and law firms. But make sure you refresh yourself on expressions, acronyms and key terms.

16.  Research the firm’s competitors

It’s likely that you’ll be applying to some of them too if they specialise in the area of law that you are interested in. So, make sure you understand who the firm’s competitors are and any notable cases they are working on too.

17.  Look at different specialisms

You might have been set on criminal law for as long as you can remember, but if you are applying for a large firm with multiple specialisms and are interviewing for a trainee position, don’t close the door to finding a new love.

 In your interview, make sure you come across as open-minded and take the feedback and advice of your interviewer on board. There’s nothing wrong with showing you have a strong interest in one area, but if there’s no room in that department, you need to show that you are open to other departments too.

18.  Prepare how to answer interview questions

We’ve also written a blog post on 14 law firm interview questions and how to answer them. This is a great way to prep for the interview, make you feel more confident and get those all-important examples ready.

19.  Get a good night’s sleep 

And finally, the night before, try to relax as much as possible and get a good night’s sleep. Our top tips for relaxing the night before include:

  • Work out your travel arrangements a few days before
  • As mentioned above, practice your answers, and think about the examples which show you have the desired skills, and
  • Try on your outfit to make sure it fits, looks smart and feels comfortable.

20. Think positively

Positive thinking will help you feel more confident. Remember, that the skills you’ll learn from interviewing can be as important as being successful in the interview. If you don’t get this first job, or second, or third job, don’t panic. There are lots of ways into a law firm and jobs you can apply for.

Ready to excel at your next law firm job interview? 

If you now feel ready to take on a law firm job interview, why not head to our jobs page to find out what vacancies are currently available?

If you have any top tips for preparing and excelling in a law firm interview, let us know in the comments below.