Aspiring solicitor? Tips for success in your trainee interview
You’ve been invited to interview for a training contract – congratulations! After years of study, securing a training contract is one of the trickiest hurdles you’ll face in your journey to become a fully fledged solicitor. It’s important that you get it right.
So how should you prepare for the big day? Anna Wilson, Executive Partner, shares her tips for maximising success in your trainee contract interview.
Research the firm
This is a given for any interview; but simply memorising what the firm does and how it operates isn’t going to make you stand out.
Instead look for details of recent cases the firm has been involved in (regional and legal press or the firm’s website are good starting points) and undertake some background research on the person, or people, interviewing you.
Having a solid understanding of the firm’s values, structure and wider activities (such as charitable and pro bono work) will help you assess whether this is the right firm for you and will also help you prepare a list of questions to ask your prospective employer.
Be commercially aware
Whether you’re a paralegal, trainee solicitor or Senior Associate, it’s important that you have a basic understanding of how a business operates.
Your interviewer won’t expect you to know the ins-and-outs of working in a law firm – especially if you’ve never worked in one before.
But having a basic understanding of how a firm operates and demonstrating some knowledge of factors such as departmental structures, compliance requirements and regulatory frameworks will help you tackle some of the more technical questions you might be asked.
Brush up on your legal knowledge
There’s no such thing as too much research – so before your interview, make sure that you brush up on your legal knowledge.
Reacting intelligently to questions will demonstrate to the interviewers that you can handle complex ideas, form reasoned opinions and deliver logical arguments – all important skills for budding trainee solicitors.
Be in touch with current affairs
You’re not expected to have a detailed knowledge of current affairs, but being able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of current affairs – and especially those that involve UK legal issues – will be a huge bonus.
Try to think like lawyers – who are the main parties, what are the key issues and what are the possible implications in law?
Try reading a newspaper or watching the news for a few weeks before your interview to enhance your understanding of relevant current events.
Stand out from the crowd
Having excellent academic credentials will get you an interview; but standing out from the crowd will get you the job.
The firm is looking for you to practise law, but you’ll also need to build, develop and nurture relationships with clients and colleagues. Don’t be
afraid to let your personality shine – pay attention to your body language, focus on what makes you unique and be vocal about what you can bring to the firm as a trainee.
Good luck for your interview!