A key part of your preparation for a legal interview should be thinking about the kinds of questions that you are likely to be asked and how you would answer them. Here’s a look at some of the more difficult questions you could come across and how to approach them.
This is always a really difficult question to answer in an interview given that you are applying for a job and do not want to highlight your flaws! The trick is getting the balance right between picking a weakness that is realistic but that does not undermine your overall chance of success.
It may sound obvious, but make sure not to pick a flaw which is a key skill or strength required for the position. For example, saying that you do not work well under pressure is not going to go down well at a busy, international law firm.
However, you should also avoid going too far the other way and picking a weakness which does not sound genuine. For example, saying that you are a perfectionist is not really a flaw!
Remember that law firms are looking for candidates who are self-aware and able to grow within the firm. Answering this question well is a key way of demonstrating these qualities.
Try and pick a weakness that is realistic but that would not undermine your overall job performance. For example, sometimes I find it difficult to say no and it results in me taking on too much work. Definitely talk about how you are working to improve to demonstrate that this is a flaw that you are trying to overcome.
Remember that firms invest a significant amount of time and money in their successful candidates. They are consequently looking for individuals who will progress within the firm and ultimately prove to be an asset. Saying that you would like to work at a think tank in five years time is therefore not the answer they are looking for.
Spend some time researching the specialisms of the firm, the opportunities that there are within these departments and the particular areas that interest you so that you can give concrete examples of where you would like to be within the firm in five years time.
This is a question that puts you on the spot and is ultimately testing your ability to speak diplomatically. While you might have had a previous employer that you could not stand or thought was completely incompetent, it is not a good idea to talk about them in this way during your interview as it may well reflect badly on your own character.
You can talk about a previous employer’s skills as a manager and what it taught you without attacking them personally. The key is to be as positive as possible, no matter how much you want to offload about how awful they might have been.
Remember that they’re here to meet you – and most likely won’t get the chance to meet your former employers – therefore the only person visible in a negative account will be you. And who wants to leave an interviewer with a vision of you and another employer screaming at one another?
Anything you politely suggest about your manager – for example, having a different way of working – should be immediately followed by a positive outcome of these differences, e.g. you find it easier to adapt to different colleagues’ varying work styles.
This question is intended to assess your values and attitude as much as your achievements. Remember that your interviewers have already read your CV and application form and are now trying to get to know you as a person and see if you would be a good fit for the firm.
It is therefore worth thinking about an example outside your formal education which you think demonstrates your personality.
This is also a really good opportunity to stand out from the other interviewees, so find an achievement that’s very much specific to you and couldn’t be easily repeated – led your netball team to a national competition? Youngest person to ever become president of your student’s union? Started your own blog that now has thousands of users a week?
This is your time to show what makes you the special person the company needs.
Words: Hannah Capstick
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