February 28, 2022
Commercial awareness is a skill that is sought after in candidates throughout the legal sector. In this blog Lucie Brooks-Francis highlights nine easy ways that you can demonstrate your commercial awareness during an interview.

Don’t recite facts – make sure you learn the information

Anyone can do a quick Google Search to find 10 hot commercial awareness facts to retell during an interview, but the ability to recite facts is not a skill often sought after in legal applicants.

In order to demonstrate commercial awareness as a valuable skill, it is important to not only learn facts, but dive into the details and learn background information to support the effective understanding of the information.

This strategy will enable you to more effectually raise and discuss topics in an interview which will in turn improve your ability to demonstrate the skill of commercial awareness.

Go deeper with your research

Being able to discuss commercial topics is the key to easily demonstrating your understanding in an interview – but how can you take this to the next level?

Don’t conclude your research at your first source, always go one step further. For instance, company website news is always a good early step to build up your contextual understanding of a topic.

Social media also provides a unique opportunity to dive into updates in a quickly accessible and comprehensible format, make sure that you follow companies across their social platforms to discover what they are publishing about a topic. Platforms like LinkedIn also promote an understanding of updates on a more individual where you can discover more about a topic from those directly involved!

Research reported cases and deals

Commercial awareness is all about current and future happenings that are or may have an impact on the commercial sector. To stay on top of this it is important to research reported cases and deals.

Again, company websites are a good starting point; you will discover the most company-relevant movements and updates that can form the foundation to your research.

It is also beneficial to sign-up to commercial awareness newsletters. This will ensure that you will consistently stay in the know on the biggest headlines and be made aware of events that may be brought up in an interview.


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Make sure your research is updated before the interview

There is nothing more embarrassing, not to mention discouraging, than bringing up outdated information in an interview! Not only does outdated information reflect poorly on your research skills, it also may invalidate the opinions and arguments you had prepared to discuss pre-interview.

The best way to ensure your information stays up-to-date is to keep a list of the topics you are researching and preparing pre-interview so that you can quickly and easily complete final research.

Do your own analysis

Being able to do your own analysis and raise unique points when discussing a commercial headline is an important skill that will make demonstrating valuable commercial awareness skills easy.

A simple way to make this analysis effective to to use a SWOT analysis framework which enables you to assess internal and external factors that would impact a business. Having a simple framework to break down topics will make understanding topics and articulating points in an interview scenario more coherent, while also exhibiting successful communication skills.

Find out more about using SWOT to analyse commercial headlines.

Consider other parties’ point of view

Demonstrating commercial awareness in interviews also means demonstrating your ability to formulate and analysis arguments. Much like in an essay, arguments are always stronger when they consider the counter points – and being able to understand, articulate and rebuff these counter-arguments will demonstrate the sought-after skills behind your commercial awareness.

In cases, look at both prosecution and defence arguments and how these interacted with each other. When researching deals try to find the points raised in negotiation and how these influenced the conclusion. For other types of headlines, it is always important to look at how these are interacting with the market, who these topics most affect, and any opinions published.


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Remember your sources and be ready to justify opinions

Your ability to remember and reference sources will support the strength of your points while also effectively acting as a demonstration of your level of research. Don’t feel like you have to cite as thoroughly as academic work, a simple “During my research —- raised that…” will suffice.

Also, don’t feel the need to reference every point; this will make it substantially harder to remember other (more important) information while potentially watering down your point. Instead, try to select which references you cite based on their effectiveness in demonstrating your skill and understanding – for example, citing that you read something on BBC News may not demonstrate the same research skills as referencing a journal or a company-specific resource.

Answer the question

Interviews can be a nerve-racking experience, and this can affect how well you articulate when asked questions. To eliminate some of the overwhelm when responding to commercial awareness related questions, it may be beneficial to break down topics pre-interview and use an answering framework you are comfortable with.

Some people use the STAR method to answer interview questions – answering the question through response to Situation, Task, Action and Result. Others try to use the ‘Conclusion First’ method for more argumentative points, answering questions through a process of citing the conclusion and then discussing the reasons from both sides that landed the result.

There are many answering techniques – the important thing is to find one you can more naturally use to support your interview performance.

Ask the right questions

Questions are a good way to demonstrate your commercial awareness while developing your understanding for a company. The most effective way to do so is to ask headline specific questions – for example, “How is your company responding to —-?” or “I have noticed this pattern in response to —-, has this affected the long-term plans for the company?”.


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