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Top tips for making the most of that job interview

The interview for the job you’ve been working so hard to train for is your chance to shine. So make sure you make the most of the opportunity. All it takes is a little thought and preparation – and you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes. Because, no matter how personable, smart and well suited to the job you are, if you haven’t done your homework it will show, big time.  In our experience, most interviews last about an hour and while there may very well be a panel of interviewers, for a first meeting it’s more likely to be just one or two.

Know where you're going to

That may sound like stating the obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people make this mistake. Make sure you know exactly where the interview is and allow at least an extra 10-15 minutes’ travelling time to get there. If you do get there early, there’s no harm in asking the receptionist to announce your arrival later. Plus, if you can, leave enough time to read the file of press cuttings many law firms have in their reception. It’s also a good idea to have an informal chat to the receptionist – ask her how long she’s been working there, what she thinks of the place etc. After all, you never know, the partners might ask what she thought of you before or after your interview.

Find out as much as you possibly can

Before the interview, check the job titles and the full names of the interviewers and also of your main point of contact. Also, check out the firm’s own website to find out about their work and clients, many websites have archive sections which will help you with background detail and knowledge. And of course, if you know anyone that currently works there make sure you speak to them if possible.

Make full use of the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners websites. Look into the firm’s specialist areas of law, recommended individuals and the percentage split of work across the practice and familiarise yourself with competitors and recent updates.

As near as possible to your interview, also check the trade press – The Lawyer, Legal Week and the Law Society Gazette and any business related journals – for the most current information. Don't forget to check the profiles of your interviewers on LinkedIn and view the firm's most recent tweets on Twitter.

Make a good first impression

Look the part, after all a smart suit and polished shoes speak volumes. Remember to carry any bags or files in your left arm, leaving your right hand free for a firm handshake. Take a copy of your CV to the meeting and read it through beforehand so you’re primed to answer questions on it - especially any particular areas of law you’ve shown knowledge of. Also, use your hobbies and interests section to develop a good rapport when you’re asked about them. (You’ll find useful tips of how to put your CV together here).

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