Trainee Blog Post – “How to Prepare for Training Contract Interviews”
It is never too early to start preparing for training contract interviews. You might say that the preparation starts from the moment you decide that a career in law is the one for you: the long evenings spent reading your administrative law textbook, the Saturday mornings volunteering at your local pro bono centre and the extra curriculars that you are delicately balancing alongside those things. The end stage of that preparation begins once you have poured all of your blood, sweat and tears into the training contract application and to your delight (and relief!), you receive the email that you have been waiting for, inviting you for an interview.
In this blog piece, I have set out my five top tips for preparing for training contract interviews.
- Research the firm
This may sound obvious but my number one top tip is to research the firm inside out in order to gain a good understanding of its practice areas, values, major clients and matters that the firm has been involved in. It shows that you are genuinely interested in the firm that you are interviewing with and are not simply taking a scattergun approach to your applications.
- Preparing for competency-based questions
When preparing for competency-based questions, it is helpful to pick examples that you can mix and match for a variety of scenarios. For example, you could keep the same answer in your back pocket for “can you give us an example of a challenging situation you were once in and how you overcame it?” as “please give us an example of a time when you showed resilience.” That way there will be less information for you to remember when you are in the pressured environment of the interview room.
- Commercial awareness
Commercial awareness: two words that are drummed into you from day one as a law student. Your potential future employers will want to assess whether you have an understanding of the business of running a law firm, and also how technology and innovation can improve the service to clients so it is a good idea to choose a few current hot topics to read up on that genuinely interest you. If you can tie your chosen topics in with the firm’s practice areas then that’s even better!
- Prepare yourself for the unexpected
It’s impossible to completely prepare for all eventualities and questions that may come your way in an interview. Try not to panic when you are hit with a curve ball (we’ve all heard those horror stories of interviewees being asked which kitchen appliance they would be and why) – take some time to think before you answer. I guarantee what might feel like an eternity to you whilst you are structuring a considered response in your mind will only be a few seconds to your interviewer.
- Be yourself
It’s easy to focus your efforts so much on competently answering the interviewer’s questions that you forget to show your personality in the interview. Law firms are looking for trainee solicitors who will not only be at ease with clients but will also fit in with the culture of the firm and their future colleagues, so give your interviewer a flavour of what makes you, you.